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February NewsWire: #UnionStrong ULFA - AUFA - UOITFA, National Solidarity, Federal Legislative Update, New Equity Toolkit, Academic Freedom, Events

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on February 28, 2022. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue

  • #UnionStrong: ULFA on the picket line
  • AUFA going strong on the picket line
  • UOITFA successfully wraps up job action
  • Solidarity as other staff unions move towards strike votes
  • Federal legislative update - and how you can engage with Parliament
  • CAUT launches new Equity Toolkit
  • First-ever conference on academic freedom and the law
  • Upcoming Events

#UnionStrong: ULFA on the picket line

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) is on its third week of job action.

For the first time in its history, University of Lethbridge academic staff took to the picket line on February 10.  ULFA says that faculty compensation is 10 to 15 per cent behind that of comparable universities—and this does not account for inflation.  Other issues on the table for the 500 members of ULFA include protection of benefits and collegial governance.

“We won't fix this [salary erosion] in a single year, but this is a problem that needs to be addressed, and it gets harder to fix the longer it's neglected,” said ULFA chief negotiator Locke Spencer.

AUFA going strong on the picket line

Academic staff at Acadia University are entering their fourth week of a strike. A government appointed mediator is stepping in to try help the university and faculty members settle the dispute.

The Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) is seeking to increase the number of tenure-track faculty to meet rising student enrolment, make hiring and working conditions gains for precarious and Indigenous faculty, and keep salary improvements in line with cost-of-living increases.

AUFA members are frustrated with the Acadia Board of Governors’ unwillingness to “recognize that decent working conditions guaranteed by a fair and equitable contract are paramount” to sustain the university’s “strong academic programming,” said AUFA President Andrew Biro.

AUFA members have been without a contract since July 2021. They voted to authorize a strike last November, with 94 per cent voting in favour.

UOITFA successfully wraps up job action

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) announced on February 24 that both parties had ratified a collective agreement, ending the UOITFA’s first-ever job action.

Ontario Tech’s 280 full-time faculty walked off the job on February 10.

Acting UOITFA president Kimberly Nugent said that workload was the primary issue.

“A lot of us supervise undergraduate and graduate students [including] capstone projects, thesis research, graduate research, and this requires significant one-on-one support, both directly and indirectly,” Nugent said, describing these additional tasks as “invisible work.”

“This is not, right now, recognized as part of our teaching workload, and it’s becoming unsustainable.”
UOITFA and the university administration announced they reached a tentative agreement on February 20 after mediation over the weekend.

Solidarity as other staff unions move towards strike votes

2022 is shaping up to be an exceptional year for academic staff job action across the country.
The year started with a successful, two-week strike that resulted in Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) ratifying a new deal.  It was the first academic staff strike in Alberta’s history.

Turn-out for strike votes has been high, with strong mandates for job action. Members of Association des professeurs et bibliothécaires de l’Université Sainte-Anne may be next, with a strike date for later this week.

Meanwhile, CAUT Executive and Defence Fund members joined picket lines in Wolfville, NS, Lethbridge, and Oshawa this month to show solidarity with striking unions.

Federal legislative update—and how you can engage with Parliament

CAUT is stepping up its advocacy work with Members of Parliament and House of Commons committees, including the following:

  • The new Science and Research Committee will soon begin a new study on how to best attract and retain top talent at Canadian universities, colleges, and trade schools, and support research and innovation.
  • The Citizenship and Immigration Committee is currently studying Canada’s recruitment and acceptance rates of international students.
  • The Official Languages Committee is studying “urgent issues relating to the application of the Official Languages Act in Canada”. Members who have concerns about access to education in a linguistic minority context or other official language issues, may want to share their perspective with the committee.

If you would like more information or would like to share your experience and expertise, please contact Andrea Stuart at

CAUT launches new Equity Toolkit

CAUT is pleased to announce the launch of an online Equity Toolkit, accessible at The toolkit is a hub for associations to address and advance equity in the academic workplace.

The site includes case studies, links to relevant data, bargaining advisories, and articles on strengthening the academic staff association to address equitable compensation for academic staff.

"Our profession prides itself on producing accurate knowledge of the world but we cannot do that if we are excluding groups of people who bring different perspectives on how the world and our profession, works," said Momin Rahman, co-chair of CAUT’s Equity Committee.

This toolkit is a living resource and more will be posted in the coming months—including resources specifically addressing issues of marginalization and exclusion faced by Black and Indigenous people, People of Colour, people living with disabilities, and members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
For more information, contact Director of Political Action and Communications, Justine De Jaegher at

First-ever conference on academic freedom and the law

Over 150 participants took part in Canada’s first major conference focused on academic freedom and the law, held on February 10 and 11. Hosted by the Harry Crowe Foundation, the event brought together legal practitioners and academics from across Canada to explore the legal protections for and limits to the exercise of academic freedom.

Unlike most other countries, including the United States, academic freedom in Canada is not enshrined in the legal system or in legislation.

“Collective agreements and MOUs remain the strongest source of academic freedom,” said Adriel Weaver, a lawyer with Goldblatt Partners.  “The faculty associations must look to their collective agreements, as the vast majority of those agreements protect academic freedom.”

Mary-Elizabeth Dill, also a lawyer with Goldblatt Partners, noted that Canada does not have “robust jurisprudence” because of the “strong push to mediate and reach consensual outcome between the parties.”

Upcoming Events

Forum for Chief Negotiators
March 18, 2022

The Forum for Chief Negotiators is an important opportunity for chief negotiators to discuss key issues arising in the workplace and at the bargaining table, and to share strategies and experiences with colleagues across the country. Questions about the Forum should be directed to Justine De Jaegher, Director of Political Action & Communications, at