Two academic staff associations—the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA)—are entering starting the week on strike, after negotiations broke down late last week.
UOITFA members walked off the job on Thursday after negotiating for nine months and almost 30 sessions at the bargaining table. They key issue for the more than 280 faculty members at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa is workload. “Overworked, burned out and on strike” – the posters being carried by striking staff sum up what drove the majority of UOITFA’s member to support strike action.
Kimberly Nugent, the acting president for UOITFA, said this is the first strike by faculty in the University's history, adding that their concerns are not new.
"Our workload concerns predate the pandemic, COVID-19 only exacerbated them," Nugent told CBC News.
She said Bill 124, Ontario legislation that caps wage increases for some public sector workers, prevents any talk of more money; so the faculty is targeting the "invisible work that's just started to grow and become unsustainable."
University of Lethbridge academic staff also took to the picket line on Thursday. ULFA says that faculty compensation is 10 to 15 percent 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.
CAUT Executive and Defence Fund members joined the picket lines in both Lethbridge and Oshawa on Friday to show solidarity with the two unions. UOITFA and ULFA are the third and fourth academic unions to take job action in 2022.