Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on January 26, 2022. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.
In this issue
- #UnionStrong: historic victory in Alberta
- UOITFA moves closer to a potential strike
- Feb 1st strike deadline for AUFA
- CAUT: make Laurentian accountable
- Unions take action to protect members against Omicron
- Upcoming events
#UnionStrong: historic victory in Alberta
Concordia University Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) members ratified an agreement on January 14 that will improve working conditions and increase salaries of CUEFA members. The deal was reached after a two-week strike, the first job action by an academic staff association in Alberta.
“The new agreement was made possible because of the determination of the academic staff association and the solidarity of students, community supporters, allies and other unions and associations,” said David Robinson, CAUT executive director.
Over 1,350 individuals and organizations across Canada rallied behind CUEFA and called upon the university administration to make “long overdue improvements” to the working conditions of academic staff. In addition to salary gains, the new agreement improves workloads for CUEFA members and preserves their ownership of their intellectual property.
UOITFA moves closer to a potential strike
The University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) is approaching a January 31st strike deadline. Earlier this month, UOTIFA requested a “no-board” notice from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development which set the wheels in motion for job action.
“Our priority has always been to try and settle these issues at the bargaining table and avoid a strike,” said Past UOITFA President Kimberly Nugent. “However, if a strike is the only way to convince President Murphy and the Board of Governors that they need to take action, then we are willing to strike.”
UOITFA says the main issue is an erosion in the quality of education resulting from the high student-to-faculty ratio and warns that its members are struggling with burnout. Other unions and associations in Ontario, including CFS Ontario, CUASA, and CUPE 3902, have issued statements of solidarity.
Feb 1 strike deadline for AUFA
The Acadia University Faculty Association has set a strike deadline of February 1.
AUFA President Andrew Biro says that the Board of Governor’s latest proposal would erode some of the union’s previous gains. AUFA is concerned that despite six straight years of budgetary surpluses, Acadia’s offer will strip part-time faculty of any job security and remove commitments to hire a minimum number of tenure-track professors and librarians.
AUFA is prepared to take job action to safeguard Acadia’s high-quality post-secondary education and is calling on the Board to avert a strike by committing to “meaningful negotiations”.
CAUT: make Laurentian accountable
CAUT was in Ontario Superior Court last week as part of an effort to compel Laurentian University to hand over documents that may shed light on the University’s current financial crisis.
CAUT told the Court that it supports a motion known as a "Speaker's warrant" passed in December by the Ontario Legislative Assembly to force Laurentian to release relevant financial documents by February 1. "We are concerned about the lack of financial and governance transparency," said CAUT General Counsel Sarah Godwin. "Laurentian must be accountable for the public funds it has received.”
In court, Charles Sinclair, counsel for the Laurentian University Faculty Association, said his client also backed the Speaker's warrant. "This is of great concern to LUFA and its members, who have suffered a lot in this process, and who have a profound interest in finding out what happened to put Laurentian in this position [and] seeing to it that this never happens again."
On February 1, 2021, Laurentian filed for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), and subsequently laid off almost 200 faculty and staff.
Unions take action to protect members against Omicron
In response to the highly contagious Omicron COVID-19 variant, universities and colleges across Canada delayed the start of the winter semester or pivoted back to online classes. In some cases, academic staff associations advocated directly to their provincial governments.
The BC Institute of Technology Faculty & Staff Association (BCITFSA) took the extraordinary step of sending a letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, asking her to “instruct BCIT to make health and safety decisions in the interest of the entire community” and not compel faculty and students back into the classroom.
Les syndicats des professeur.e.s (SPUL) et des chargé.e.s de cours (SCCCUL) of Université Laval issued a joint statement calling on the Quebec government to delay the start of the winter semester until the end of January, arguing that faculty and teachers need more time and preparations to make the transition.
CAUT has tracked the winter semester return-to-campus and has made the information available to members and the public in its Institutional Re-Opening Plan Database.
Harry Crowe Foundation Conference 2022: Academic Freedom and the Law
This conference will explore the legal foundations of academic freedom, as well as the legal limits placed on it with a view to strengthening the protections for academic freedom in Canada. Please share this notice with your members and plan to join us online February 10-11, 2022.
The registration link and the conference agenda are available at: http://www.crowefoundation.ca/events/. For further information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.