Back to top

Guidelines for an ‘ALERT': Measures for Response to Threats to the Collective Rights of the Profession and/or to the Collective Bargaining Process at Canadian Universities and Colleges


The CAUT may invoke an “ALERT” when it decides that there is a serious threat to the collective rights of the profession and/or the collective bargaining process at CAUT member associations. The decision to invoke an “ALERT” shall be made on a case-by-case basis by the Executive Committee of CAUT. The Executive Committee shall make its decision based on legal opinion received, and after due deliberation, having consulted the provincial association(s) and the local association(s) involved.

Some examples of a serious threat are:

  • an extreme form of bad faith bargaining;
  • an employer seriously inhibiting the free collective bargaining process;
  • a government seriously inhibiting the free collective bargaining process at a university;
  • an employer or a government clearly acting to undermine or to abrogate the existing collective bargaining rights of member associations of CAUT;
  • an employer or government failing to abide by a decision reached through a process which is binding on the parties.

The above list is not inclusive because it is difficult to foresee in each instance what constitutes a threat to the collective rights of the profession and/or the collective bargaining process at Canadian universities. The following paragraph offers some guidelines for the differentiation of “good faith bargaining” from “bad faith bargaining”:

The duty to bargain … contains two (broad) requirements: a duty to bargain in good faith, and a duty to make reasonable efforts to reach a collective agreement… The requirements of “good faith” and “reasonable efforts” are procedural ones designed to ensure no more than that the employer recognize the union as exclusive bargaining agent, and that the parties engage in a full, free, honest, and rational discussion of their differences. Within these requirements, the parties remain free to bargain hard and steadfastly disagree… Some symptoms of (bad faith bargaining) are: surface bargaining, direct dealing with employees, attack on the credibility of the union, attempting to dictate or negotiate the composition of the union’s negotiating committee, insisting upon illegal or improper demands, threatening an illegal lockout, misrepresentation, failure to disclose relevant information, abusive and insulting conduct, refusals to discuss, reneging or changing position, failure to meet, insisting upon a bargaining process that is time-consuming, repetitive, and serves no useful purpose, sending a negotiator to the table without any real authority to negotiate, etc.”

Normal hard bargaining, even when there are difficulties in reaching an agreement, would not constitute a reason to invoke an “ALERT”. Similarly, not every case of “bad faith” bargaining would warrant the invoking of the “ALERT” process. In such circumstances, CAUT provides other forms of help such as assistance from the CAUT staff, from the other member associations, and the CAUT Defence Fund.


The Executive Committee and the Executive Director shall take appropriate actions to carry out the “ALERT” as expeditiously as possible. The “ALERT” shall follow the procedures described below:

  • When a faculty association requests action from the CAUT by informing the Executive Director;
  • alternatively, should the Executive Director become aware of a serious threat to bargaining, they shall consult the faculty association;
  • the Executive Director shall consult the Executive Committee and the Executive Committee shall decide, by a majority vote, whether the “ALERT” process should be invoked.
  • During the decision-making process, legal advice will be sought when necessary.


Once the decision to invoke an “ALERT” has been taken, the following measures shall be undertaken:

  • CAUT shall take all measures necessary to publicize the events which led to the invocation of an “ALERT”, and provide all possible support to its member association.
  • CAUT shall encourage every faculty association to offer all possible support to the faculty association facing a threat to its collective bargaining rights.

Should these measures not resolve the situation, CAUT may decide to impose censure.


Once the parties have resolved the matters at hand, the Executive Committee of CAUT shall publicize the removal of the “ALERT”. The Executive Committee shall take due care to communicate with any institutions or bodies which had been advised of the “ALERT” according to the modalities above.

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 1996;
Approved by the CAUT Council, April 2004; Reviewed, no changes, April 2009;
Editorial Revisions, April 2014;
Reviewed, no changes, June 2022.

1 See CAUT Bargaining Advisory “Recognizing and Responding to Bad Faith Bargaining” 1999
2 See CAUT Policy Statement on Procedures Relating to Censure.