Canadian Association of University Teachers

The Latest

(Ottawa – January 31, 2023) The Canadian Association of University Teachers is criticizing the University of Lethbridge administration for cancelling a planned talk on campus.

In a letter issued today to the University’s President, Michael Mahon, CAUT says the talk by Dr. Frances Widdowson should have been allowed to proceed.

The decision to cancel the event “raises serious concerns about the University of Lethbridge’s commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom,” the letter states.

CAUT notes that while many profoundly disagree with Dr. Widdowson’s views, a university should “welcome controversial speakers and vigorous debate, not seek to restrict discourse or speakers.”

CAUT is the national voice of more than 72,000 academic and professional staff at 120 colleges and universities.

-30-


Dear President Mahon:

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is deeply concerned about your decision to cancel a planned talk on campus by Dr. Frances Widdowson. Your actions raise serious concerns about the University of Lethbridge’s commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom.

The foundational role of a university is aptly captured in the University of Toronto’s Statement of Institutional Purpose:

Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research. And we affirm that these rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself.

Dr. Widdowson certainly does raise disturbing and provocative questions. While many profoundly disagree with her, a university should welcome controversial speakers and vigorous debate, not seek to restrict discourse or speakers.

The University of Lethbridge owes its academic community an assurance that it will not act in ways contrary to its foundational purpose of supporting, fostering, and defending freedom of expression and academic freedom.

Sincerely,

David Robinson
Executive Director

Author: gagne
Posted: February 1, 2023, 1:24 pm

(Ottawa – February 1, 2023) Laurentian University filed for insolvency protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on February 1, 2021. Two years later – after job losses, program cuts, and plummeting enrollment – the people most affected are speaking out about the personal costs of a corporate bankruptcy process.

Dr. Valérie Raymond, a former professor in the French studies department, was informed she would lose her full-time, permanent position days before giving birth to her first child.

“The stress, anxiety and fear that this loss brought on at that point in my pregnancy are indescribable,” she said. “The CCAA process the university used robbed my family of our financial security when I not only I lost my maternity leave, but also was denied the appropriate severance pay that was owed to me.”  

Born and raised in Sudbury, Dr. Raymond is now back at Laurentian, working as a contract employee. “I found it very difficult to go back to this same institution that destroyed my career and denied me my approved, paid maternity leave,” she said. “I returned because I’m still passionate about teaching and this French-language program is so important to our community. I’m teaching the same courses as before, only at a much lower pay grade, without any health benefits for me or my family and, of course, without any job security.” 

“Faculty at all stages of their careers have paid dearly for the callous choices made by Laurentian’s former leadership,” said Fabrice Colin, President of the Laurentian University Faculty Association. “The effects continue to reverberate through the community and economy in Sudbury and across Northern Ontario. And, even though we were promised change by the federal government, we have yet to see action. The CCAA must be fixed before this happens to another community.”   

Rather than lose his job outright, Dr. Frank Mallory, a former chair of the biology department, was pressured to retire.

For the sake of his students and his children, he accepted. “At the time I was supervising seven graduate students. I’m still working for free so that my remaining two students can complete their studies,” he said. “I had four young children, so I needed the benefits promised if I retired, even though it meant giving up my salary, my life insurance, my sabbatical, and free tuition for my kids.”

In response to the situation at Laurentian, the Liberal government promised to exclude public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA. Two years later, that change has yet to materialize.

In early December, NDP MP Charlie Angus introduced a private member’s bill (C-309) in the House of Commons to remove all public institutions from the CCAA. Earlier, Senator Lucie Moncion proposed a bill in the Senate (S-215) that would exclude public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA. CAUT has urged the government to make a similar commitment in Budget 2023.

“The CCAA is a corporate tool that was never intended to be used by public institutions like Laurentian,” said David Robinson, executive director of CAUT. “We now know that the university administration had other options, including provincial assistance, but chose instead to let their staff and students pay for the cost of gross financial mismanagement.”

Author: gagne
Posted: February 1, 2023, 1:06 pm

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on January 31, 2023. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue:

  • Dalhousie Faculty Association ratifies new collective agreement
  • University of PEI Faculty Association: Every legal avenue
  • Members at Memorial head to the picket lines
  • Strike at Cape Breton University
  • State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession survey

Member News

Dalhousie Faculty Association ratifies new collective agreement

The Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) has ratified a new agreement following their conciliation meetings in early January.

In mid-December, there was a strike vote and 82.2% of the DFA membership participated in the vote. Of those who voted, an overwhelming 92.2% voted in favour of striking if a satisfactory deal couldn’t be reached at the bargaining table, a statement by DFA said.

One of the central issues has been salary. The DFA noted that over a three-year period, the board offered less than the increases negotiated by Acadia, l’Université Sainte-Anne, and the Nova Scotia Civil Service.

The DFA is the certified bargaining agent for more than 1,000 professors, instructors, librarians, and professional counsellors at Dalhousie University.


University of PEI Faculty Association: Every legal avenue

The University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA) has been in negotiations for a new contract since April. Outstanding issues are mental health benefits, the number of full-time faculty, and salary.

In August, the UPEIFA sought conciliation to clear the impasse between the two sides. However, a statement released late last year by the association said that Minister Bloyce Thompson dragged out the appointment of a conciliator well past the legislated 10-day timeline.

According to Dr. Michael Arfken, UPEIFA president, “as the conciliation process enters its fourth month of government intervention with no end in sight, it has become increasingly clear that the provincial government’s actions are substantially interfering in contract bargaining and creating the conditions for an extended labour dispute at UPEI.”

The CAUT Defence Fund is supporting the UPEIFA in a legal challenge to the government’s ongoing interference in collective bargaining.

“The UPEI Faculty Association is prepared to use any and every legal avenue to preserve the educational quality of our institution and to build a better UPEI,” a statement from the association said.


Members at Memorial head to the picket lines

More than 800 faculty members at Memorial University began striking on January 30.
Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) members had voted overwhelmingly to strike if a deal wasn’t forthcoming by the end of the month.

“Because of the administration’s unwillingness to negotiate, it appears that no more can be achieved until after our membership demonstrates its strength on the picket lines,” the MUNFA stated in a notice to members. “Despite MUNFA members delivering a historic strike vote on Jan. 18, the administration’s positions on crucial bargaining issues have moved only marginally in more than a year.”

The association representing faculty, librarians and counsellors at Memorial is striking on several key issues including job security for contract faculty, workload, collegial governance, and salaries. 

“Memorial’s instructors are already amongst the lowest paid in Canada. The employer’s proposal is designed to drive salaries lower still,” said a report from MUNFA prior to job action. Read more here.


Strike at Cape Breton University

Cape Breton University Faculty Association members are on strike to achieve a fair contract.

“We recognize that it is a difficult situation for everyone, especially the students. But we are ready to walk the picket line if that’s what it takes to get an agreement we can accept,” CBUFA spokesperson Peter MacIntyre said.

Money remains the main issue at the table. During conciliation, the association reduced its salary demands, but the administration’s counter-offer will still leave members falling behind the cost of living. By contrast, the senior administration gave themselves a 10% raise this year.

The recent report “Culture of Entitlement” from the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers shows that senior university administrative salaries have increased 84% over the last 10 years in Nova Scotia. Over the same period, faculty salaries have grown by only 17.5%, less than 2% per year.

On Our Radar

State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession survey

How do you really feel about your job? CAUT wants to know.  

Given the significant changes over the past two years, CAUT wants to better understand academic staff experiences and attitudes towards the job, the workplace, and the post-secondary education sector. The State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession Survey will help identify current issues and needs of academic staff at universities and colleges. 

We would like to hear from associations and their members to help us determine how best to serve the CAUT community.  

Please take a few minutes to participate in this anonymous survey. Thank you in advance for your time and input!  

Only three more days to participate in this survey! 

The deadline for completion is February 3, 2023. 

Complete the survey

Job opportunities

AcademicWork.ca

View all job opportunities

Author: gagne
Posted: January 31, 2023, 7:21 pm

(Ottawa – January 30, 2023) Faculty, librarians, and counsellors at Memorial University have taken to the picket lines today after contract talks broke down over the weekend.

“Because of the administration’s unwillingness to negotiate, it appears that no more can be achieved until after our membership demonstrates its strength on the picket lines,” the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) stated in a notice to members. “Despite MUNFA members delivering a historic strike vote on Jan. 18, the administration’s positions on crucial bargaining issues have moved only marginally in more than a year.”

The association says a fair deal is needed to protect quality education.

“Students are paying more and more to attend a university that offers less and less.” says MUNFA. “Overworked and vulnerable instructors cannot provide students with the education they deserve.”

For more information and to show support, visit the MUNFA website: https://munfa.ca/2022-bargaining/

Author: gagne
Posted: January 30, 2023, 3:19 pm

(January 27, 2023)  In a letter to the President and Vice-Chancellor of Simon Fraser University, CAUT is raising concerns about interference in the Research Ethics Board (REB). At the direction of SFU’s Vice President Research and International, several members of the REB, including the Chair and Deputy Chair, have been non-renewed without justification, contrary to university policy, and without Senate’s approval. CAUT is of the view that this represents a serious interference by the Administration with the independence of the REB, undermines widely established principles of collegial governance, violates SFU’s own policies and practices, and potentially threatens academic freedom and research integrity. 


January 27, 2023

Dr. Joy Johnson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, B.C.
Canada V5A 1S6

Dear President Johnson,

I am writing about recent developments concerning SFU’s Research Ethics Board. It is my understanding that, at the direction of SFU’s Vice President Research and International, several members of the REB, including the Chair and Deputy Chair, have been non-renewed without justification, contrary to university policy, and without Senate’s approval. CAUT is of the view that this represents a serious interference by the Administration with the independence of the REB, undermines widely established principles of collegial governance, violates SFU’s own policies and practices, and potentially threatens academic freedom and research integrity.

Based on existing policy and practice, it is our conclusion that the VPRI has no authority to make decisions about the composition of the REB. The University’s policy on “Ethics Review of Research Involving Human Participants” is unequivocal about Senate’s role: “The Research Ethics Board (REB) derives its authority from the Senate,” (5.2.1). Further, Schedule A of the policy requires that all potential REB members be “subject to a Senate ratification or decision vote,” (1.5.3). The VPRI’s decision to unilaterally make decisions about the non-renewal of members of the REB is a clear breach of the policy and represents a blatant undermining of Senate’s power.

Moreover, I note that the proposed new Standard Operating Procedure for the REB would grant the VPRI the explicit authority to remove and appoint members. While the VPRI’s appointments would still be subject to ratification by Senate, the proposed process takes away Senate’s direct role in choosing from and electing members to the REB.

This administrative interference into the composition of the REB is a serious matter that should be particularly concerning for SFU given prior experience. In the mid-1990s, the University was embroiled in a protracted controversy involving research ethics and academic freedom. A former graduate student was subpoenaed to provide information about one of his research subjects. Divulging this information, however, would be contrary to the strict guarantee of research confidentiality he provided participants in his research protocol that the University Research Ethics Committee had approved. The University and the ethics committee declined to assist the student in challenging the subpoena. A review of the case released in 1998 concluded that the Administration had put concerns over legal costs and its reputation ahead of its primary obligation to defend academic freedom and research integrity.

The outcome of that case led to a series of important changes that were designed, amongst other things, to ensure the independence of the REB from administrative influence and pressure. It is unfortunate that, with the latest developments, the Administration seems to have forgotten the lessons learned. In doing so, it is inviting a repetition of the past.

I urge you to immediately restore the composition of the REB so that Senate can decide upon renewals. Any changes to the Research Policy or REB procedures must be discussed through the proper process and under the authority of Senate.

Given that this matter implicates important principles of collegial governance and academic freedom, I will be referring the case to the CAUT Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee which, subject to any additional information you may provide, will review and consider appropriate actions to take.  

Sincerely,

David Robinson
Executive Director

cc:   
Dr. Kumari Beck, President, Simon Fraser University Faculty Association 
Dr. Peter McInnis, President, CAUT
Dr. Alison Hearn, Chair, CAUT Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee 

Author: gagne
Posted: January 27, 2023, 8:24 pm

(Ottawa – January 27, 2023) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is offering its full support to members of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association who have gone on strike to achieve a fair contract.

“We recognize that it is a difficult situation for everyone, especially the students. But we are ready to walk the picket line if that’s what it takes to get an agreement we can accept,” CBUFA spokesperson Peter MacIntyre said.

Job security and pay remain contentious issues according to a statement from the CBUFA. During conciliation, the Association reduced its salary demands, but the administration’s counteroffer will still leave members falling behind the cost of living. By contrast, the senior administration gave themselves a 10% raise this year.

“The union’s proposals are fair and reasonable,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “We urge the administration to come to the table and negotiate a deal that addresses the concerns members have about job security and compensation.”

CAUT is the national voice of 72,000 academic staff at over 120 universities and colleges. 

Author: gagne
Posted: January 27, 2023, 6:31 pm

Members of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) authorized a strike if a deal isn’t imminent by the end of the month. In an overwhelming demonstration of support, 90% voted in favour with 93% turnout.

A statement from MUNFA said: “It is the hope of the executive that, with this strong result showing the unity of MUNFA members and their readiness to take job action if they are not treated fairly, the administration will return to the bargaining table ready to make a deal that will work for MUN.”

Negotiations will continue, facilitated by a conciliator. MUNFA believes that “with serious effort from both parties, all outstanding issues can be resolved before the strike date.”

The association representing faculty, librarians and counsellors at Memorial is fighting to protect quality education. As noted in their #FairDealAtMUN campaign on Twitter: “Students are paying more and more to attend a university that offers less and less. Overworked and vulnerable instructors cannot provide students with the education they deserve.”

Author: gagne
Posted: January 23, 2023, 6:18 pm

Members of the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) have voted overwhelmingly for a tentative agreement reached earlier this month, with 93.7% of ballots cast in favour of the deal.

The new agreement includes salary increases of 3% for 2022 and 2.5% for each of 2023 and 2024. It also contains wage adjustments of $1750 to $3750, depending on rank.

The DFA represents more than 1,000 professors, instructors, librarians and professional counsellors at Dalhousie University.

After negotiations throughout the fall, the two sides were far apart on several issues, including salary, resulting in the DFA filing for conciliation. The association was supported by a strong strike mandate of 92.2% if a satisfactory deal couldn’t be reached at the bargaining table.

Conciliation took place January 4 and 5, 2023, and was successful in producing a tentative agreement.

Author: gagne
Posted: January 17, 2023, 3:55 pm

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) condemns the decision of the Taliban government to bar female students from Afghanistan’s universities.

“This action amounts to a grave violation of international human rights and must not be allowed to stand,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “We urge the government of Canada to exercise all the diplomatic pressure it can to ensure this decision is reversed and to provide immediate assistance to Afghan academics and students seeking to flee the Taliban regime.”

The Taliban regime has a long history of barring women and girls from educational opportunities. Earlier this year, it reversed its plan to reopen secondary schools to girls.

CAUT is calling on members to support Afghan academics and students at risk by donating online to the CAUT Refugee Foundation at CanadaHelps. CAUT is working with Scholars at Risk, the federal government, Education International, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, the Canadian Labour Congress, and the International Trade Union Confederation to support at-risk scholars and facilitate opportunities for them in Canada.

Author: gagne
Posted: December 22, 2022, 5:05 pm

On November 25 and 26, 2022, delegates to Council met in Ottawa — 193 in person and 56 online — to discuss priorities, elect new leadership, and honour the collective achievements of members.

In this issue:

  • Solidarity in the forefront of CAUT president’s welcome
  • Executive director on academic freedom and insolvency legislation
  • Guest speakers on academic freedom constraints at home and abroad
  • CAUT elects new representative-at-large
  • Award winners
  • Upcoming events
  • Council nominations
  • State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession survey

Solidarity in forefront of CAUT president's welcome

In his opening remarks, CAUT President Peter McInnis addressed the underfunding of education and the undermining of collective bargaining rights, especially the Ontario government’s recent attempt use of the notwithstanding clause to quash education workers’ right to strike. He highlighted the importance of uniting within the labour movement to ensure these rights are upheld.


Executive Director on academic freedom and insolvency legislation

CAUT Executive Director David Robinson spoke about the legal foundation of academic freedom as a professional and contractual right of academic professionals – not a privilege. Reflecting upon the recent attempt to undermine labour rights in Ontario, he encouraged CAUT member associations to get more engaged in the broader labour movement by joining NUCAUT, the National Union of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

Robinson also provided an update on Laurentian University’s insolvency, highlighting the Auditor General of Ontario’s final report that found the use of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangements Act to be unnecessary, unwarranted, and destructive. CAUT is lobbying the federal government to exclude post-secondary institutions from corporate insolvency legislation.

He also reported on CAUT’s international participation in the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference 2022 and the outcomes of the United Nations’ Transforming Education Summit. He noted that CAUT is still working to bring an Afghan trade unionist and her family to Canada.


Guest speakers on academic freedom constraints at home and abroad

Grace Nyongesa, National Chairperson of the Universities’ Academic Staff Union (UASU), spoke about underfunding of even the most basic materials in Kenya. She told Council delegates that often teachers must buy their own supplies for their classes, and that the shortage of lecturers in universities due to low pay causes workload issues – and eventually burnout. Compounding this is a lack of academic freedom for teachers to conduct their own research.

When mobilizing to demand changes, she said that union organizers are often bought off with offers of manager positions. Insufficient health care, no protection of intellectual property online, and no policy on how to teach online were also among the issues she and her colleagues face. Grace Nyongesa is the first woman to hold the position of national chairperson at the national level at a trade union in her country. CAUT and UASU have developed a partnership to share best practices and knowledge.

Dr. Madeleine Pastinelli, an ethnologist and tenured professor at Université Laval's Department of Sociology, presented a report from the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval (SPUL) on issues arising from members’ interactions with Research Ethics Boards (REBs). Pastinelli spoke about professors who had experienced excessive restrictions on their field research to the point that it made continuing their research impossible. She cited the TCPS 2 Ethics Framework​: “In order to maximize the benefits of research, researchers must have academic freedom.”

​She also said that REB decisions at her university restrict research practices that employ an inductive approach, despite the provisions in the TCPS 2 Ethics Framework. Pastinelli sits on the SPUL executive committee as its secretary and serves as its spokesperson in ongoing negotiations with Laval.


CAUT elects new representative-at-large

CAUT welcomes David Newhouse as its new representative-at-large (Aboriginal). David is Onondaga from the Six Nations of the Grand River community near Brantford, Ontario. He was the first principal of Peter Gzowski College at Trent University and chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies. He is also an associate professor in the business administration program. Read Newhouse’s Bulletin article on Indigenization in academia.


Award winners

CAUT Council voted to present the Milner Memorial Award to members of the Censure U of T group at the University of Toronto for their contributions to the cause of academic freedom. The group organized around the censure to increase pressure on the administration for cancelling an offer of employment to Dr. Valentina Azarova following an intervention from a donor. This case has drawn international attention and garnered solidarity from academics across the country and internationally.

Council voted unanimously to present the Sarah Shorten Award to Kathleen Nichol of the Brandon University Faculty Association and Chantal Dion of the Carleton University Academic Staff Association.

Past President Brenda Austin-Smith announced that the J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship Trust has been awarded this year to Jade Crimson Rose Da Costa, a writer, poet, community organizer and PhD candidate in sociology at York University, Tkaronto (Toronto). Jade’s work focuses on gender, sex and sexuality studies with a concentration on queer, trans, postcolonial and Black feminist theories.


Upcoming events

January 13-14, 2023: The CAUT Forum for Presidents is an opportunity for the leadership of academic staff associations to meet peers from across Canada, share high-level discussion on key political and organizational challenges, and build networks of contact and support – all with the goal of strengthening our ability to advance the interests of our members.

February 10-11, 2023: The 6th CAUT Equity Conference is a chance to organize to advance equity at universities and colleges across the country. Participants will strengthen their change-making skills and build networks of support with activists from across Canada.


Council nominations

Nominations are being sought for the following positions on the CAUT Executive Committee: 

  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Chair of the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee
  • Chair of the Contract Academic Staff Committee
  • Co-Chair of the Equity Committee
  • Representative-at-large (Quebec)
  • Representative-at-large (Aboriginal)
  • Representative-at-large (Francophone)
  • Two Representatives-at-large (General)

The deadline for submitting nominations is March 1, 2023. Elections by secret ballot will take place during the CAUT Council meeting to be held in Ottawa, April 20-23, 2023. 

The nomination procedures, description of positions and terms of office, and CAUT’s Release Time Policy are outlined here.
 
Nominations are also being sought for the following vacancies on CAUT Standing Committees of Council: 

  • Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee [Vacancies: 3]
  • Collective Bargaining and Organizing Committee [Vacancies: 4]
  • Equity Committee [Vacancies: 3] (one member representing Aboriginal academic staff; one member representing academic staff with disabilities; one member representing LGBTQ2S)
  • Librarians’ and Archivists’ Committee [Vacancies: 4]

The deadline for nominations for members of CAUT Standing Committees is February 1, 2023.
The composition, function, terms, and procedures for selection of committee members can be found on the CAUT Website under each standing committee page. The nomination procedures are outlined here.


State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession survey

How do you really feel about your job? CAUT wants to know.

Given the significant changes over the past two years, CAUT wants to better understand academic staff experiences and attitudes towards the job, the workplace, and the post-secondary education sector. The State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession Survey will help identify current issues and needs of academic staff at universities and colleges.

We would like to hear from associations and their members to help us determine how best to serve the CAUT community.

Please take a few minutes to participate in this anonymous survey. Thank you in advance for your time and input! The deadline for completion is January 16, 2023.

Complete the survey

Author: gagne
Posted: December 16, 2022, 8:28 pm

(Ottawa – December 6, 2022) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is joining with the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) in calling for a public inquiry into the actions of Laurentian’s administration during the recent financial crisis.

“The manufactured financial crisis and unnecessary cuts have been devastating,” said LUFA President Fabrice Colin. “However, the revelations we have learned about since those cuts were made make clear that an independent inquiry is needed and that it is needed now.”

Previously sealed documents reveal that the university turned down financial support from the province. Instead, it opted to file for insolvency under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), leading to the termination of nearly two hundred staff and the closure of 69 programs affecting over 900 students.

“An independent public inquiry is necessary to hold those responsible for financial mismanagement to account and prevent another crisis like this from happening elsewhere,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson.

The Auditor General of Ontario said it was unnecessary, inappropriate, and ultimately destructive for Laurentian University’s senior administration to pursue insolvency protection rather than accept government assistance.

“The Liberal government needs to take action to ensure that publicly funded universities and colleges never again exploit federal insolvency laws that are designed for the private sector. The CCAA needs to be amended,” Robinson added.

Author: gagne
Posted: December 6, 2022, 8:47 pm

Today, CAUT commemorates the memories of the 14 women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal brutally killed simply because they were women. On this December 6, we remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Their deaths prompted Parliament to designate this date as The National Day to Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.  

In their honour, we recommit to ending gender-based violence in our communities. 

Author: gagne
Posted: December 6, 2022, 6:20 pm

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on November 30, 2022. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue:

  • Striking CUPE 3912 members back to work after a tentative deal with Dalhousie
  • Fall Economic Statement falls short
  • Laurentian: A damning report of mismanagement and university exits from insolvency
  • Iran's teachers and students continue to demand justice
  • Nation-wide strike action taking hold of UK
  • CUPE education workers reached a deal for fairer wages
  • State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession: Survey

Member News

Striking CUPE 3912 members back to work after a tentative deal with Dalhousie

Photo credit: CUPE National Twitter account

Part-time academics, teaching assistants, markers, and demonstrators from Dalhousie University (Dal), members of Local 3912 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3912), returned to work mid-November after the union representing 1,500 workers reached a tentative agreement with Dal for wage increases. The workers had been striking since October 19 when union members joined rallies and picket lines to press for higher pay in line with inflation.

Among other gains, the agreement includes a teaching assistant pay increase of PTA wages to 23.3 per cent (i.e., 0-7 courses: 2020-2021 pay rate: $10,594.80; 2023-2024 pay rate: $12,956.25), TA wages to 23.1 per cent (i.e, 2020-2021 pay rate: $24.72; 2023-2024 pay rate: $30.05), and Mark/Demo wages 44.5 per cent (i.e., 2020-2021 pay rate: $16.82; 2023-2024 pay rate: $24.00).

“It’s been a long and difficult journey to achieve this deal,” said CUPE 3912 President Cameron Ells in a recent union statement, “and we couldn’t have done it without the solidarity and dedication shown by our membership.” Most of the gains in the current offer will not take effect until September 2023. Details on the tentative agreement can be found here.

A statement issued by the union shortly after the vote to ratify the Tentative Agreement, said, “…this vote does not mean we are done. There are several goals that we did not achieve in this round of bargaining. The next two years leading up to the end of this contract are more important than ever.”

On Our Radar

2022 Fall Economic Statement falls short

On November 3, the Government of Canada released its Fall Economic Statement 2022 (FES) that permanently eliminated interest on Canada Student and Apprenticeship Loans including those currently being repaid. This amounts to a savings of $410 annually by an average student loan borrower, according to the federal government. The government noted in its statement that half of all post-secondary students in Canada depend on student loans to help them with the cost of tuition and basic expenses during their studies.

More than 1.8 million Canadian students owe the federal government a total of $20.5 billion, based on 2019 data from the Government of Canada website, with the average loan balance at about $13,367 at the time of leaving school. The government said that this change that begins on April 1, 2023, carries an estimated cost of $2.7 billion over five years and $556.3 million thereafter.

However, the government offered nothing else for research or post-secondary education. The FES also highlighted the importance of well-paying jobs, something the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) said didn’t go far enough.

In a statement following the release of the FES, the CLC said the focus needs to be on union jobs as “Gains for unions turn into gains for all workers, creating stimulus for the whole economy.”
The CLC statement also mentioned the inclusion of for-profit training institutions and micro credentials that it said “…will benefit private businesses and not workers.” It explained that a fiscal statement that focused on reducing government spending would only help reduce the risks for the banks and big corporations.

Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland framed the FES as happening within a climate of fiscal discipline, citing inflation and rising interest rates. The CLC noted that “…Canada had one of the quickest recoveries and now one of the quickest tightenings.” Adding that the “…federal government’s fiscal position is solid and there is no risk of a debt or deficit crisis, despite Freeland’s warnings.”


Laurentian: A damning report of mismanagement and university exits from insolvency

The Auditor General of Ontario says it was unnecessary, inappropriate, and ultimately destructive for the Laurentian University senior administration to deliberately pursue insolvency protection in the courts rather than accept government assistance.   

The Special Report on Laurentian University details years of financial mismanagement at Laurentian University which culminated in the unprecedented and unnecessary decision to file for insolvency protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on February 1, 2021.  

"The Auditor General is absolutely unequivocal in concluding that Laurentian University’s administration did not have to, and should not have, turned to the CCAA,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.

The costs associated with pursuing protection under the CCAA have totaled $54.7 million at a time when Laurentian’s overall debt stood at about $107 million.  

Since the release of the report, Laurentian has emerged from the CCAA insolvency and the two sealed letters between Laurentian and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) were made public. The contents of the letters add more support to the Ontario’s Auditor General findings and show, as highlighted in a recent news release from the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA), that Laurentian’s senior administration spent years planning to exploit the CCAA to gut programs and faculty positions at the university. 

“These documents are shocking in the detail they provide about Laurentian’s secret longstanding plans to gut the university by terminating over one-hundred faculty and slashing dozens of programs,” said LUFA President Fabrice Colin. “Further, this correspondence reveals the Ford government knew the university was in financial difficulties and planning cuts at least six months before the CCAA was triggered. This raises serious concerns about why this government did not do more."


Iran’s teachers and students continue to demand justice

As of mid-November, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) in Iran reported that up to 344 protesters have been killed, 445 students have been arrested, and 138 universities have been involved in nation-wide strike actions in protest of the murder of Jina (Mahsa) Amini by the so-called morality policy.

Amini’s killing in September sparked nationwide protests led by women and girls. Human Rights Watch reported that the regime has been detaining and arresting teachers for their activism even before these recent events.

In late October, the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers' Trade Associations (CCITTA), a union that works for the welfare of educators in the country, called for a nationwide teachers’ strike to mourn the deaths and detention of protestors, many of whom are students.  Daily video posts on HRANA’s social media feed show strikes happening in different universities across the country.

“We know very well that the military, security and private forces are invading the privacy of schools and educational spaces. During this systematic repression, they have cruelly taken the lives of a number of students and children,” the statement from CCITTA said. “Rulers should know that the community of Iranian teachers do not tolerate these atrocities and brutality.” 


Nation-wide strike action taking hold of UK

The University and College Union (UCU) announced a 3-day national strike (on November 24, 25 and 30) to press demands for better pay, working conditions and pensions. The UCU represents over 70,000 university staff at 150 universities across the UK. 

The union is demanding a pay rise in keeping with the cost-of-living crisis and action to end the use of unstable contracts. A third of academic staff are on some form of temporary contract, and a recent pay rise of just three per cent this year following a decade of increases that fell below inflation, the union said, is unacceptable to the workers.

In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding employers restore benefits and withdraw cuts made earlier this year that will see the average union member lose 35 per cent from their guaranteed future retirement income.

The UCU noted that the UK university sector generated record income of £41.1bn last year with vice chancellors collectively earning an estimated £45 million.

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: “Universities and employers must come to the table and take meaningful action to end these disputes. They have a responsibility to their staff and students to end unacceptable pay disparities for racialized staff, disabled staff, and women, and to protect staff pensions so that they can have a decent retirement. As the workers of the future, students have everything to gain from UCU members winning this fight.”

This is the fifth consecutive year, a union statement mentioned, that government cuts to education and workers' rights have ended in strike action in the UK.


CUPE education workers reached a deal for fairer wages 

In a recent statement on CUPE’s website, CUPE National President Mark Hancock and CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick congratulated Ontario education workers on reaching a tentative agreement after what they described as a difficult round of bargaining with the Province of Ontario and the Council of Trustees’ Association.

CUPE National recommended accepting the tentative agreement despite not being able to achieve, funding for additional much-needed services.

Hancock and Rennick remarked that the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU) bargaining committee was able to achieve a breakthrough wage settlement, following over a decade of legislated wage restraint. The statement noted that the “…agreed wage increase of $1 per hour in each year of a four-year collective agreement will result in wage increases of 3.59% on average across your bargaining unit, or roughly 14.4% compounded over four years. For the lowest paid workers in the education sector, the flat rate of $1 per hour, per year amounts to more: 4.2% each year or 16.8% compounded over four years.”

The statement noted that CUPE’s bargaining committee also managed to assure repayment for the two days of protest they undertook because of Bill 28. This recognizes the fact that the workers shouldn’t have had to do this to maintain the already enshrined-Charter bargaining rights they always had.

Earlier this month, CUPE’s 55,000 workers, including support staff, education assistants, early childhood educators, caretakers, and their supporters, joined political rallies across the province to protest the bill that was passed by the Ontario government, imposing a four-year contract on the workers, prohibiting job action, and invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to prevent any legal challenge. CUPE’s education workers provide essential support in schools but earn on average just $39,000 per year.

“We are very proud of what has been achieved here, in one of the toughest rounds of negotiations in the country this year,” the statement from CUPE National President Mark Hancock and National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick said. Addressing CUPE education workers, they added on behalf of CUPE National: “Your fight for better services in public education will continue in the political and community arena, thanks to the tremendous mobilizing efforts of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU).”


State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession survey

How do you really feel about your job? CAUT wants to know.

Given the significant changes over the past two years, CAUT wants to better understand academic staff experiences and attitudes towards the job, the workplace, and the post-secondary education sector. The State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession Survey will help identify current issues and needs of academic staff at universities and colleges.

We would like to hear from associations and their members to help us determine how best to serve the CAUT community.

Please take a few minutes to participate in this anonymous survey. Thank you in advance for your time and input! The deadline for completion is January 16th, 2023.

Job opportunities

AcademicWork.ca

View all job opportunities

Author: gagne
Posted: November 30, 2022, 9:52 pm

(Ottawa – November 30, 2022) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) welcomes an Ontario Superior Court decision to overturn Bill 124, legislation which capped public sector wage increases at 1% a year for 3 years. The Court found that the bill violates the Charter-protected collective bargaining rights of workers, including academic staff at universities and colleges.

“This is a big win for public sector workers, including university and college staff,” said David Robinson, CAUT Executive Director. “Once again the courts have upheld the principle that when governments substantially interfere in collective bargaining, they are violating rights guaranteed in the Charter.”

A coalition of labour organizations, including the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, challenged the law, arguing that it limits freedom of association, freedom of speech, and equality rights under the Charter. The court agreed that the act infringes on freedom of association.

The ruling, if it stands, opens the door for billions of dollars in back pay for the approximately 780,000 workers who were affected by the 1% limit since 2019.

Author: gagne
Posted: November 30, 2022, 8:56 pm

(Ottawa, November 25, 2022) CAUT - Over 150 academic staff association leaders meeting in Ottawa this week are calling on the Liberal government to uphold its promise to remove publicly funded post-secondary education institutions from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). CAUT asserts the CCAA process undermines sound post-secondary governance and the transparency of public spending.  

In 2021, the Liberals committed in their election platform to “protect public post-secondary educational institutions, such as Laurentian University, from being subject to corporate restructuring,” yet little has been done to change this. 

“What happened at Laurentian was wrong and had far-reaching impacts for Northern Ontario, Francophone communities, and Indigenous communities,” said CAUT President Peter McInnis. “The Liberals made a promise that they would take action to ensure that this never happens again. As post-secondary teachers who understand the damaging consequences of the CCAA process we’re raising our voices to tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he and his Party must keep their word,” added McInnis. 

The demand made during a meeting of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), comes on the heels of the Auditor General of Ontario’s Special Report on Laurentian University. The report details years of financial mismanagement, culminating in the unprecedented and unnecessary decision to file for insolvency protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on February 1, 2021.  

“The CCAA process is misaligned with the goals of public universities,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Post-secondary education is a public good that educates and trains students, promotes democracy, and provides vital research,” said Robinson. “These goals are incompatible with the commercial aims of the CCAA.” 

CAUT is urging the government to amend the CCAA to explicitly exclude public post-secondary institutions. Senate Bill S-215 proposes to exempt universities and colleges from the CCAA. Bill C-228, which passed the House this week, amends the CCAA to provide important protections for employee pensions during an insolvency, but does not protect post-secondary education from commercial restructuring. 

Added Robinson: “The Liberals made a promise that they would take action to ensure that what happened at Laurentian would never happen again. Canada’s academics are holding them to it.” 

Author: gagne
Posted: November 25, 2022, 2:29 pm

The Auditor General of Ontario says it was unnecessary, inappropriate, and ultimately destructive for the Laurentian University senior administration to deliberately pursue insolvency protection in the courts rather than accept government assistance.  

The Special Report on Laurentian University details years of financial mismanagement at Laurentian University which culminated in the unprecedented and unnecessary decision to file for insolvency protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on February 1, 2021. 

"The Auditor General is absolutely unequivocal in concluding that Laurentian University’s administration did not have to, and should not have, turned to the CCAA,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “There were other processes available, including government funding and the financial exigency provisions in its collective agreement with the academic staff association. Instead, a deliberate choice was made to pursue an expensive, court-driven, opaque process which by-passed collective agreement provisions and was not intended to nor should it ever apply to publicly funded institutions.” 

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found that, for over a decade, ill-conceived capital expansions, combined with weak governance oversight, led to Laurentian University’s financial crisis.  While the Laurentian administration’s public messaging suggested it was academic staff salaries that were to blame for the financial woes, Lysyk’s wide sweeping review found that salaries were in fact lower than those of comparable universities and that, “...collectively, its academic programs had positively contributed to the University, helping to pay the growing costs of debt, senior administration and special advisors.”  

Lysk found that a 75% increase in costs associated with Laurentian’s senior administration, including a $1.4 million fund for discretionary expenses for senior administrators, and $2.4 million spent on Special Advisors to the President and other senior administrators, were also key drivers of rising costs. According to Lysyk, as Laurentian’s financial situation worsened, it inappropriately accessed restricted funds intended for research projects and retirement health benefits which were comingled with general funds.  

The costs associated with pursuing protection under the CCAA have totaled $54.7 million at a time when Laurentian’s overall debt stood at about $107 million. 

“You have to question why senior administrators felt it was more appropriate to spend scarce resources on legal and consultancy fees rather than on its core mission of teaching and research,” Robinson notes. “In the end, the CCAA process resulted in nearly 200 lost jobs, elimination of programs, and a significant impact on the community.” 

Robinson welcomed the news that the Ontario Ministry of Education has committed to working with any post-secondary institution facing financial concerns and to ensuring a strong public post-secondary system.  

“CAUT will continue to advocate with the federal government for the explicit exclusion of public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA and to ensure the act is amended to prioritize workers from all sectors,” Robinson added. 

-30- 

Author: gagne
Posted: November 18, 2022, 1:16 pm

CAUT congratulates CUPE 3912 on reaching a tentative agreement with the Dalhousie administration. Among other gains, the agreement includes a teaching assistant pay increase of 23.1% and a part-time academic base pay increase of 23.3% (from $10,464 to $12,956 per course). Details on the tentative agreement can be found here

Author: gagne
Posted: November 10, 2022, 6:53 pm

(Ottawa – November 9, 2022) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is expressing its solidarity with CUPE’s 55,000 education workers as they return to the bargaining table following the Ontario government’s decision to rescind Bill 28. This unprecedented and draconian legislation overrode workers’ rights and freedoms under the Charter and the provincial Human Rights Code.

Last Friday, CUPE’s 55,000 workers, including support staff, education assistants, early childhood educators, caretakers, and their supporters, joined rallies across the province to protest the bill that was passed on Thursday by the Ontario government, imposing a four-year contract on the workers, prohibiting job action, and invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to prevent any legal challenge.

On Monday, CUPE received in writing Premier Doug Ford’s commitment to repeal Bill 28 in its entirety, in effect restoring the right to collective bargaining and strike action. In return, CUPE has called an end to its current demonstrations and is primed to negotiate a fair deal that workers view as long overdue. CUPE’s education workers provide essential support in schools but earn on average just $39,000 per year.

“In the interests of all education workers and their unions, CAUT stood with CUPE to send a clear message that Bill 28 was an unacceptable and unconstitutional affront to all working people,” said Peter McInnis, CAUT President. “We will continue to support CUPE’s members now as they bargain for a fair deal.”

Author: gagne
Posted: November 9, 2022, 2:26 pm

(Ottawa – November 3, 2022) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) encourages members to support solidarity actions with CUPE’s 55,000 education workers who are being denied their legal right to strike by the Ontario government’s unconstitutional legislation. Members in Ontario can join planned pickets and rallies, and those outside of Ontario can show their support via social media and engagement in local actions that may be planned. 

After the government refused again to bargain a fair settlement yesterday, CUPE workers intend to protest Friday in defiance of the government’s attempt to override fundamental rights guaranteed under the Charter. 

The CUPE workers include support staff, education assistants, early childhood educators and caretakers who provide essential support in schools but earn on average just $39,000 per year. 

We encourage members to join pickets and participate in other solidarity actions this Friday: https://cupe.on.ca/dontbeabully/  

Author: gagne
Posted: November 3, 2022, 1:32 pm

(Ottawa – October 31, 2022) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) condemns the legislation introduced today by the Ontario government that will force a contract on CUPE’s 55,000 education workers and prevent a legal strike that was to start Friday.

“The Ontario government’s legislation is an illegal, unconstitutional interference in the right to free collective bargaining and the right to strike,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “CAUT joins with our colleagues in CUPE and in the broader labour movement in condemning this attack on basic rights and stands ready to support a challenge to the legislation.”

The CUPE workers that include support staff, education assistants, early childhood educators and caretakers provide essential support in schools but earn on average $39,000 per year — among the lowest paid workers in the sector. The union is seeking increases for the workers which amount to 40 to 67 cents an hour.

The government’s final offer to the union increased wages only slightly to 2.5-per-cent each year for workers earning less than $43,000, and a 1.5-per-cent annual hike for those earning more. The union had also asked for much-needed student support such as having an early childhood educator in all kindergarten classrooms. The Ontario government has given no guarantees these demands would be met. CUPE says it will be looking at every avenue to fight the back-to-work legislation.

Author: gagne
Posted: October 31, 2022, 6:36 pm