Canadian Association of University Teachers

The Latest

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 studentscommunity 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


Upcoming Events

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 events-evenements@caut.ca.
 

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 dejaegher@caut.ca.

Author: gagne
Posted: January 26, 2022, 6:54 pm

Now a year since Laurentian University's bid for creditor protection, the unprecedented crisis remains tied up in court as CAUT and other stakeholders seek answers about how an Ontario post-secondary institution wound up on the verge of bankruptcy.

The latest legal salvo -- 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 Feb. 1 -- wound up in a Superior Court hearing on January 18, with the University's lawyers arguing the order would cause "irreparable harm" to the institution as it restructures. The court had already turned aside the provincial auditor general's request for the documents, which the University claims are protected by solicitor-client privilege.  

CAUT General Counsel Sarah Godwin told the Court that CAUT supports the Speakers' warrant. "We are concerned about the lack of financial and governance transparency," she said. "Laurentian must be accountable for the public funds it has received.”

In court, Charles Sinclair, counsel for the Laurentian University Faculty Association, 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. Under the legislation, existing and future legal proceedings against the university are stayed or suspended, including grievances and collective agreement issues.

The various parties agreed to a mediator on February 5, 2021. Through the court process, Laurentian has since secured bridge financing loans to continue operations, sought an extension of the stay order, and obtained permission to resume fall/winter programs.

The University, LUFA and the Laurentian University Staff Association have agreed to cost-cutting measures, including changes to the pension plan and term sheets that establish the basis of a new collective agreement. Laurentian also unilaterally severed its relationship with its three federated universities, including the University of Sudbury, that resulted in further job losses.

The crisis exploded after years of funding cuts and questionable spending, while the University publicly claimed successive balanced budgets, as the CAUT Bulletin reported last year. “We kept asking for proof of the financial crisis for nearly a year, which the Administration refused to provide," LUFA president Fabrice Colin said last spring.

Author: gagne
Posted: January 20, 2022, 8:17 pm

Concordia University Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) members have ratified an agreement that will improve working conditions and increase salaries of CUEFA members.

A 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.

As a result of the strike, there is now a solidarity working group and new networks between academic staff across Alberta that can support other academic staff associations currently in bargaining—many of whom are also preparing for the possibility of job action.

“This is an important moment for post-secondary education in Alberta,” said Robinson. “Although academic staff in that province have been on the front lines of defending the academic mission, until recently they were denied one of the essential tools available to other academic staff associations: the right to strike. And now CUEFA has shown that right can be used to improve conditions for teaching, research, and learning.” 

CUEFA’S 82 members went on strike at the start of the winter semester, on January 4.

The new agreement includes salary gains and improves working conditions for CUEFA members, including more manageable workloads for professors, laboratory instructors, librarians, and field placement coordinators. The agreement also improves job security to members and preserves their ownership of their intellectual property.

Author: gagne
Posted: January 17, 2022, 7:24 pm

In response to the highly contagious Omicron COVID-19 variant, universities and colleges across Canada are delaying the start of the winter semester or pivoting back to online classes.

Les syndicats des professeur.e.s (SPUL) et des chargé.e.s de cours (SCCCUL) of Université Laval issued a joint statement  this week 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 is tracking these changes and has made the information available to members and the public in its Institutional Re-Opening Plan Database. As of January 20, 62 colleges and universities in Canada, 60 of whose academic staff associations are members of CAUT or its affiliates, have delayed the start of the Winter 2022 term or started the term with classes online. Of these post-secondary institutions:

  • More than half (55%) are scheduled to return to in-person instruction on or before January 31.
  • Twenty-one per cent are scheduled to return to in-person instruction between February 1 and 14.
  • Nineteen per cent are scheduled to return to in-person instruction on February 15 or later.
  • Five per cent have planned a phased return to in-person instruction from January 31 through February 28.
Author: gagne
Posted: January 10, 2022, 1:36 pm

(Ottawa – January 6, 2022) The Concordia University Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) went on strike this week over pay and working conditions, becoming the first academic staff association to strike in Alberta’s history.

 “We have bargained since the late spring of 2021 and plan to continue bargaining in good faith to push the administration to improve the workloads and pay of all of our members,” said CUEFA President Glynis Price. 

The CUEFA represents 82 full-time professors, librarians, placement coordinators and lab instructors at Concordia, who began picketing on Tuesday morning after the two sides failed to come together on a new collective agreement.

"We're saddened that the administration has refused to budge and would rather disrupt students' lives and add to their stress by jeopardizing their winter term," said Price. "But we will not give up on proposals that are about delivering high quality education and research and preserving the tight knit community the administration claims to value but that the instructional staff actually deliver."

Students joined picket lines this week in Edmonton and rallied behind the job action through social media posts. More than 450 people have sent letters to Concordia University's President in support of the strike, and CUEFA is receiving letters of solidarity and cheques from across the country.  Other academic staff associations across Alberta have pledged active support, and so have non-academic unions from both the public and private sector, including the Alberta Federation of Labour, which is mobilizing support and helping with fundraising.

CUEFA members voted on a strike mandate last November, with 90 per cent voting in favour. The Faculty Association submitted a formal notice to strike to the university administration in late December and continued to push for a fair deal for its members over the holidays. 

The University recorded a surplus of $11.5 million in 2021, higher than the prior year’s $7.8 million surplus, and recently spent $1.75 million to purchase a century-old mansion in Edmonton. CUEFA is questioning the administration’s decision to acquire a historic mansion “instead of investing in students' education, paying faculty fair and competitive wages, and refocusing resources on academic staff recruitment and retention.”

Author: gagne
Posted: January 7, 2022, 2:50 pm

After months of refusing to turn over key financial documents to Ontario’s auditor general, the Laurentian University administration has been given a deadline of February 1st to comply by Ontario’s legislature. 

The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) is welcoming this latest development in the University’s ongoing insolvency process and has been pressing for the release of key documents, including those related to the University’s dealings with LUFA.

“LUFA’s members support transparency and have made it clear to Laurentian University that all requested information should be made available to the Auditor General,” said LUFA executive director, Linda St Pierre. “Faculty, staff, students, community and, indeed, all Ontario taxpayers deserve answers on what drove Laurentian University into insolvency.”

The Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts voted on December 8 to issue a speaker’s warrant compelling University president Dr. Robert Haché and Board Chair Mr. Claude Lacroix to release financial documents required by the province’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk by February 1, 2022. 

The Auditor General last spring initiated a value-for-money audit on the university’s operations from 2010-2020 in an effort to shed light on what led the University to become the first public post-secondary institution in Canada to file for creditor protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

The Auditor General has reported to the Committee that the University restricted her office’s access to the information required to conduct its work. To force the issue, she filed an application with Ontario’s Superior Court in September.

Laurentian University declared insolvency February 1, 2021 and later cut more  than 100 faculty and staff positions.

Author: gagne
Posted: December 16, 2021, 6:17 pm

Delegates to Council met virtually on November 25 and 26, 2021 to discuss key issues facing academic staff associations, notably the ongoing University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) strike action, the lifting of the University of Toronto censure, and the implications of Laurentian University’s use of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

  • Strong support for UMFA strike action
  • Council pledges support for Ontario community colleges
  • University of Toronto censure is lifted
  • CAUT members reject IHRA definition of antisemitism
  • The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and PSEs
  • Award Nominations
  • Academic freedom in Québec
  • Support for Afghan academics


Strong support for UMFA strike action

Delegates unanimously adopted the University of Winnipeg Faculty Association’s emergency motion for Council to publicly express its support for UMFA and its demand for fair and free collective bargaining. The motion also calls on the provincial government to rescind its wage mandate. During her opening remarks, CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith discussed the issues that provoked the strike action by UMFA, including the provincial government’s mandate to limit salary increases. Austin-Smith called on Orvie Dingwall, UMFA president, who spoke about her association’s focus on ensuring pay equity and fairness to improve academic staff recruitment and retention. Noting that this is now UMFA’s longest strike in its history, Dingwall attributed the success of the month-long strike to UMFA’s “two-pronged approach”, targeting both the administration and the provincial government, and to the solidarity from CAUT members. Editor’s note: The UMFA strike ended on Monday, December 7, after members ratified a tentative agreement with the employer.


Council pledges support for Ontario community colleges

Delegates also unanimously adopted a resolution of solidarity with the Ontario Public Service Employee’s Union college bargaining team, which is currently engaged in contract negotiations with the province’s College Employer Council (CEC). OPSEU’S college faculty group represents over 13,000 academic staff at Ontario community colleges. Members are seeking gains on a range of key issues including workload, equity, Indigenization, and intellectual property rights.


University of Toronto censure is lifted

Delegates voted to formally lift the censure against the administration of the University of Toronto. Council took the unanimous decision after determining that the University had taken the actions recommended by CAUT to address what led to the imposition of the censure last April.  This past summer, the University re-offered Dr. Valentina Azarova the position of Director of the International Human Rights Program in the Faculty of Law. Since then, the University has also promised to extend academic freedom to certain professional and managerial positions and develop policies that prohibit donor interference in internal academic affairs.

CAUT Executive Director David Robinson recognized the efforts of the University of Toronto’s Faculty AssociationCUPE Local 3902 and the ad-hoc U of T censure group in ensuring a positive outcome in the dispute. Terezia Zoric, the president of the University of Toronto Faculty Association, says the CAUT Council “facilitated the creation of space to dig into things that needed to be excavated around collegial governance – and this will have a positive impact on academic life” moving forward.


CAUT members reject IHRA definition of antisemitism

Delegates unanimously backed a resolution brought forward by the Association of Academic Staff University of Alberta to oppose the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism (IHRA) at Canadian universities and colleges. Dyala Hamzah of the Université de Montréal said that the IHRA definition threatens academic freedom on Canadian campuses. The resolution strongly condemns antisemitism and recognizes the need to “safeguard the rights of scholars to develop critical perspectives on all states, including the state of Israel, without fear of outside political interference, cuts to funding, censorship, harassment, threats and intimidation.”


The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and PSEs

Simon Archer, Partner at Goldblatt Partners LLP, gave a presentation on an upcoming report on how CAUT and academic associations can take steps to prevent universities and colleges from using the Companies Creditors Arrangements Act (CCAA). Archer noted that when Laurentian University filed for insolvency using the CCAA last February, it took university stakeholders out of the “normal ways dispute resolution happens” and side-stepped how governance, funding and decisions are typically made in a university setting.

Archer warned that resisting the use of the CCAA for other insolvency cases involving public institutions is “very difficult, almost impossible”. However, the report does provide an analysis of some of the ways employee groups have tried to resist and, using this analysis, offers some advice to academic staff associations. The report’s top recommendation is to establish an “early warning and early intervention” system. Archer says well before there are problems, it is important to seek “enhanced financial exigency terms” so that when there is a true emergency there is already a negotiated solution that includes employees “at the table”.


Award Nominations

Congratulations to Erin Patterson of Vaughan Memorial Library at Acadia University for being nominated for the Academic Librarians' and Archivists’ Distinguished Service Award. For the Sarah Shorten Award, the Council nominated members of the Joint Gender Equity Salary Adjustment Committee of the Memorial University of Newfoundland: Ms. Sheila Singleton, Retired (Chair), Kara A. Arnold (Faculty of Business Administration), Jennifer Lokash (Department of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences), and Nicole Power (Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences). Both awards will be presented at the April 2022 Council meeting. 


Academic freedom in Québec

Christine Gauthier of the Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN) presented an overview of the major higher education issues in Québec, notably the need to for universities in Quebec to adopt a statement on academic freedom. Currently, Quebec’s Charter of human rights and freedoms focuses on freedom of expression, but Gauthier argues that this is not enough as academic freedom is “fragile”. Gauthier said her members are concerned about how debates over academic freedom are framed as pitting students against faculty, and free expression against the interests of equity-deserving groups, instead of considering the broader issue of institutional practices that have an adverse impact on collegial governance.


Support for Afghan academics

CAUT Executive Director David Robinson called on members to generously support Afghan academics forced to flee Afghanistan. CAUT is working with the federal government, Education International, the Canadian Labour Congress, the International Trade Union Confederation, and Scholars at Risk to assess how best to support at-risk scholars and facilitate opportunities for them in Canada. Online donations to the CAUT Refugee Foundation can be made through Canada Helps.

Author: gagne
Posted: December 10, 2021, 1:25 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, 2021. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue

  • CAUT Council votes to lift censure of U of T
  • Strike vote at Acadia gives AUFA mandate to strike
  • CAUT member support for UMFA strike going strong
  • Throne Speech overlooks post-secondary education
  • Urgent appeal for Afghan academic refugees
  • CAUT in solidarity with Ontario college faculty
  • Upcoming events

CAUT Council votes to lift censure of U of T

The 91st CAUT Council voted last week to formally lift the censure against the administration of the University of Toronto. The Council took the unanimous decision after determining that the University had taken the actions recommended by CAUT to address what led to the imposition of the censure last April. This past summer, the University reversed course and re-offered Dr. Valentina Azarova the position of Director of the International Human Rights Program in the Faculty of Law. Since that time, the University also has also promised to extend academic freedom to academic managerial positions and develop clear policies that prohibit donor interference in internal academic affairs.

CAUT Executive Director David Robinson says the censure was a “remarkable victory that we should all celebrate” and noted that what made it possible was the cooperation of the University of Toronto’s Faculty Association, CUPE Local 3902, as well as the ad-hoc U of T censure group to put the issue front and centre across the country and around the world.

Strike vote at Acadia gives AUFA mandate to strike

Academic staff at Acadia University has voted overwhelmingly in favour of giving its union, the Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA), a strike mandate. In a vote last week, 90% of members of the bargaining unit cast ballots, with 94% authorizing a strike action if bargaining stalls.

“This vote should send a clear message to the Board of Governors at Acadia University that it needs to support Acadia's future and strategic plan by prioritizing, valuing, and investing in faculty,” said AUFA President Andrew Biro. “Our members are determined to get a fair and equitable agreement.” 

CAUT member support for UMFA strike going strong

As the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) strike nears the one-month mark, the CAUT Council last week passed a unanimous motion of solidarity.

Academic staff and students from coast to coast to coast have rallied to support UMFA members, mobilizing the academic labour movement across social media. Earlier this month, members of the CAUT Defence Fund and the CAUT Executive joined the picket lines in a show of national solidarity. In the first week of the strike, CAUT Vice-President Peter McInnis joined UMFA members on the picket line and called for the University of Manitoba administration and the Premier of Manitoba, Heather Stefanson, to negotiate in good faith and support a fair deal.

UMFA is fighting for a fair contract that prioritizes academic staff recruitment and retention. UMFA President Orvie Dingwall notes that this strike is the longest in UMFA’s history and attributes its success to taking a “two-pronged” approach, targeting both the University and the provincial government.

Throne Speech overlooks post-secondary education

CAUT was disappointed that post-secondary education, innovation, science, and research funding were missing in action in the Liberal government’s Throne Speech, delivered last week by new Governor General Mary Simon.

“Despite making historic investments in science in 2018, I am concerned that this government thinks that they ticked the box for research funding and can move on to new priorities,” says CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith. “CAUT’s members need renewed federal leadership and investments in science and research to reverse decades-long systemic underfunding of the post-secondary education. Recent federal investments in early childhood education are a model for how the federal government can proceed with infusing money into the post-secondary education system,” she added.

Urgent appeal for Afghan academic refugees

CAUT has issued an urgent appeal to academic staff associations and their members to support at-risk Afghan academics.  As the Taliban moves swiftly to target trade union activists, journalists, civil society leaders, and academics – with women, ethnic and religious minorities, and those from the LGBTQ community most at risk – many are at imminent risk of persecution and death.

CAUT is working with the federal government, Education International, the Canadian Labour Congress, the International Trade Union Confederation, and Scholars at Risk to assess how best to support at-risk scholars and facilitate opportunities for them in Canada. Online donations to the CAUT Refugee Foundation can be made through Canada Helps.

Cheques can be made to the order of the CAUT Refugee Foundation and sent to: 
CAUT Refugee Foundation 
2705 Queensview Drive 
Ottawa, Ontario 
K2B 8K2 

CAUT in solidarity with Ontario college faculty​

CAUT is fully supporting Ontario’s college faculty as they seek to reach a new contract with the province’s College Employers Council (CEC). Earlier this month, the CEC rejected the most recent offer put forth by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union faculty bargaining team, pushing staff and students at Ontario’s 24 public colleges closer to a possible strike or lockout.

“The demands that the union has focused on are fair and reasonable and are necessary for preserving the quality and integrity of post-secondary education in Ontario,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. College faculty are seeking gains on workload, partial-load working conditions, equity, Indigenization, and intellectual property rights. While a mediation report issued in late October characterized the union’s demands as “unreasonable”, Robinson says the proposals reflect what already exists in most university and college agreements across the country. 

Upcoming Events

Organization for Climate Action, December 6-10: Climate change is the pressing challenge of our generation, and academic associations can play a leading role in organizing their members to make our universities and colleges more sustainable.

Forum for Senior Grievance Officers, December 10: The forum will bring together senior grievance officers from across the country, providing opportunities to meet peers from other academic staff associations, share high level discussions, and build networks of contact and support.

Author: gagne
Posted: November 30, 2021, 8:00 am

(Ottawa – November 18, 2021) As the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) strike nears the end of its third week, members of the CAUT Defence Fund and the CAUT Executive will be joining the picket lines in a show of national solidarity.

UMFA is pushing back against government interference in collective bargaining and is fighting for a fair contract that prioritizes academic staff recruitment and retention.

Academic staff and students from coast to coast to coast  have rallied to support the working conditions of UMFA members, joining rallies and mobilizing the academic labour movement across social media.

In the first week of the strike, CAUT Vice-President Peter McInnis joined UMFA members on the picket line and called for the University of Manitoba administration and the Premier of Manitoba, Heather Stefanson, to negotiate in good faith and support a fair deal.

According to UMFA—the certified bargaining agent for 1,240 full-time professors, librarians, lecturers, and instructors at the University of Manitoba— “the university has the ability to fairly compensate UMFA members but has chosen to allow the provincial government to continue interfering in negotiations.”

As the academic labour community gears up for a fourth week of strike action, UMFA is back at the bargaining table with the university administration. But the need for pressure, support, and solidarity remains strong.

Author: gagne
Posted: November 18, 2021, 3:49 pm

(Ottawa – November 2, 2021) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is fully supporting Ontario’s college faculty as they seek to reach a new contract with the province’s College Employers Council (CEC).

“The demands that the union has focused on are fair and reasonable and are necessary for preserving the quality and integrity of post-secondary education in Ontario,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson.

College faculty, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union CAAT-A bargaining team, are seeking gains on workload, partial-load working conditions, equity, Indigenization, and intellectual property rights.

While a mediation report issued last week characterized the union’s demands as “unreasonable”, Robinson says the proposals reflect what already exists in most university and college agreements across the country.

“It is entirely reasonable to request that all work that faculty do be fairly and properly compensated,” said Robinson. “It is also more than reasonable to insist that Indigenous faculty and faculty from equity-seeking groups receive recognition and fair working conditions.”

Robinson added that the CAAT-A bargaining team’s proposals on intellectual property would extend to Ontario’s college faculty what is enjoyed by their counterparts in other provinces.

“Faculty ownership over the course materials they produce is a necessary condition for quality education. It ensures that students’ learning is guided by faculty experts, and not by administrators or government officials. And it protects academic freedom by giving faculty control over the development and use of their ideas.”

Robinson notes that while employers in most settings own the intellectual property produced by their employees, common law and tradition have typically granted academic staff first ownership of copyright over the works they create.

CAUT is the national voice of more than 72,000 academic and general staff at over 120 universities and colleges in all provinces.

Author: gagne
Posted: November 2, 2021, 7:56 pm

(Ottawa – November 2, 2021) The University of Manitoba Faculty Association is on strike after negotiations with the employer reached an impasse.

“The Government of Manitoba needs to abandon its interference in bargaining and the University needs to invest in the future of our faculty and our university,” said Orvie Dingwall, President of UMFA. "Our members are united with students in demanding fair wages and free bargaining – our working conditions are their learning conditions.”

A record-setting 85 percent of UMFA’s members voted in favour of strike action. Wages of UMFA members rank second-last of Canada’s largest 15 research universities.

“CAUT stands resolutely behind UMFA members who deserve better than below-inflation wage increases dictated by a provincial government intent on undermining free and fair collective bargaining,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “The University of Manitoba administration and the government of Manitoba should know that the entire CAUT membership and the academic labour movement across the country stands with UMFA.”

UMFA is the certified bargaining agent for 1,240 full-time professors, librarians, lecturers, and instructors at the University of Manitoba. CAUT is the national voice of more than 72,000 academic and professional staff in 125 colleges and universities, and institutes across the country.

Author: gagne
Posted: November 2, 2021, 7:54 pm

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on October 26, 2021. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue

  • UOITFA votes for strike action amid concerns around faculty burnout
  • Strike action overwhelmingly supported by University of Manitoba Faculty Association
  • CAUT report calls for governance reform at Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies
  • CAUT stands in solidarity with the Jordanian Teachers’ Association
  • Changes to statutes at Laval University would undermine collegial governance
  • Fair Employment Week 2021
  • @censureutoronto hosts webinar to celebrate victory
  • Upcoming events

UOITFA votes for strike action amid concerns around faculty burnout

Last Friday, members of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) voted 90 percent in favour of striking if the university administration refuses to agree to a fair deal. The vote comes after six months of bargaining, during which the UOITFA has been urging the Ontario Tech administration to take action on issues related to faculty burnout, including a high workload, lack of mental health supports, gender pay inequity and an inadequate pension plan. The strike vote follows a Welcome Back to Bargaining campaign that the UOITFA ran in September. UOITFA President Mike Eklund says the COVID-19 pandemic has “exposed and intensified” many challenges that faculty and students face at Ontario Tech.

Strike action overwhelmingly supported by University of Manitoba Faculty Association

On October 18, members of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) approved strike action if their union is unable to reach a deal with the university administration on fair compensation. A record-setting 85 percent of UMFA’s members voted in favour. UMFA President Orvie Dingwal says that voter turnout demonstrates that the professors, instructors and librarians at Manitoba’s largest university “deserve compensation on par with their colleagues across the country.” UMFA says recruitment and retention issues have plagued the University as the administration has imposed government-mandated wage freezes and below-inflation increases in wages. 

CAUT report calls for governance reform at Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies

On October 14, CAUT released an investigative report, which raised concerns about a “history of failed governance” at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies (PWIAS). The investigation—led by Kevin Kane at the University of Alberta and Jacqueline Holler at the University of Northern British Columbia—looked into concerns raised by former PWIAS Director Philippe Tortell when he resigned in 2018. Tortell alleged that the Board of Trustees of the PWIAS and the UBC administration had directed him to realign PWIAS research activities and funding with existing UBC research priorities. The report noted that actions taken by the PWIAS Board of Trustees that year were “inconsistent with principles of collegial governance” including the “primacy of academics over academic decision-making”. The report strongly recommends governance reform at PWIAS.

CAUT stands in solidarity with the Jordanian Teachers’ Association

Last week, CAUT joined with other Education International members to protest the ongoing criminalization of teachers and their union in Jordan. Executive Director David Robinson sent a letter to the Jordanian Prime Minister and Minister of Education calling on the Government to end the harassment of the Jordanian Teachers’ Association (JTA) and uphold the right of all teachers to join the union of their choice and to express opinions on education policy. Robinson condemned the Government of Jordan’s move last December to dismiss at least 65 teachers close to retirement and 14 JTA leaders. Jordanian security forces again arrested and detained the leading members of the JTA in connection with World Teachers’ Day celebrations earlier this month. CAUT is urging the Government of Jordan to reinstate the dismissed leaders of the JTA, lift the suspension of JTA union activities and further reform national laws to bring them in line with international standards.

Changes to statutes at Laval University would undermine collegial governance

On October 13, CAUT joined the Fédération québecoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU) and the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval (SPUL) to ring the alarm bell on Laval University’s proposed changes to its statutes, which would undermine collegial governance. The changes put forward by the administration will limit academic staff participation in the governance of their university.

Fair Employment Week 2021

Academic staff associations from across the country took to social media, organized events and participated in a virtual cross-country social to talk about issues facing contract academic staff last week as part of CAUT’s Fair Employment Week. Dr. Karen Lockhead from Laurier University wrote on Twitter, “I’ve worked as Contract Faculty at Laurier since 2004. I’m one of the longest serving ‘members’ of my department. I have no job security, no benefits, no pension, and a rate of pay below what Laurier recommends for PhD students employed as RAs.”

@censureutoronto hosts webinar to celebrate victory

In its first webinar since the suspension of the CAUT censure against the University of Toronto, members of the organizing group @censureutoronto came together on October 20 to discuss the impacts of the campaign. Lina Lashin, a University of Toronto student, shared that the “censure above all has resulted in a collective boost in our confidence and it's been wonderful.” CAUT Executive Director David Robinson noted that the U of T is not the only institution where academic freedom is an issue. “We need to collectively take back the university. The university belongs to us, not to government, donors, or the administrators.” As @censureutoronto put it, the work continues.

Upcoming Events

Organizing for Climate Action, December 6-12.  Join other academic staff associations as we explore how we can collectively take a leading role in organizing to make our universities and colleges more sustainable.

Author: charest
Posted: October 27, 2021, 7:34 pm

(Ottawa – October 25, 2021) Last week CAUT sent a letter of protest to the Prime Minister of Jordan and the Minister of Education imploring the government to cease the harassment and arrest of members of the Jordanian Teachers’ Association (JTA) and to lift the suspension of JTA union activities. 

Last December the Government of Jordan dissolved the JTA, and dismissed a massive number of teachers, including JTA leaders. Earlier this month, the Jordanian security forces again arrested and detained the leading members of the JTA in connection with World Teachers Day celebrations. Riot police were deployed to stop the peaceful demonstrations organised to denounce the crackdown on trade union rights.

We encourage your association to join CAUT in sending a letter of protest to the Ministers of Education and Labour in Jordan with the following demands:

  • unconditionally reinstate the dismissed leaders of the Jordanian Teachers’ Association and the 65 teachers who were forced to retire early;
  • lift the suspension of JTA union activities;
  • guarantee the fundamental rights and democratic freedoms of educators and all workers, including freedom of expression and of association and the right to assembly, which are essential to the functioning of independent trade unions and democracy; and
  • further reform national laws to bring them in line with international standards. 
Author: gagne
Posted: October 25, 2021, 1:51 pm
A lecture hall with the UBC logo projected on several monitors

(Ottawa – October 14, 2021) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) today released an investigative report which found that a “history of failed governance” at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies (PWIAS) contributed to challenges around academic freedom raised by the former director of PWIAS, Philippe Tortell.

The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies is one of five prominent research centres at the University of British Columbia.  It was established in 1991 by a $15-million donation to the UBC Foundation from Vancouver real estate developer Peter Wall to be an “incubator for broad-based, curiosity-driven, innovative, interdisciplinary research”.

The investigation—led by Kevin Kane, Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, at the University of Alberta and Jacqueline Holler, Associate Professor of History, Women’s Studies and Gender Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia--looked into concerns raised by Tortell when he resigned in 2018. Tortell alleged that the Board of Trustees of the PWIAS and the UBC Administration had directed him to realign PWIAS research activities and funding with existing UBC research priorities.  He raised concerns that the re-alignment of PWIAS programs posed an “existential threat” to the Institute’s “academic independence” and highlighted a “pernicious governance problem”.

In their report, the investigators found that the requirement that the PWIAS and its faculty align with “existing research clusters” of UBC raised “significant questions concerning the research-related academic freedom of the PWIAS faculty members and, indeed, research-related academic freedom at UBC”.  They noted that actions taken by the PWIAS Board of Trustees in 2018 were “inconsistent with principles of collegial governance” including the “primacy of academics over academic decision-making”.

The report strongly recommends governance reform at PWIAS in order to “protect and support academic freedom” and ensure that PWIAS “endures and prospers as a space of free and unfettered inquiry”.  The report notes that progress has been made in the right direction since 2018, but “more remains to be done”.

Author: gagne
Posted: October 14, 2021, 2:03 pm

(Ottawa, October 13, 2021) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins the Fédération Québecoise des Professeures et Professeurs d’Université (FQPPU) and the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval (SPUL) in denouncing Laval University’s proposed changes to its statutes which would undermine the core principle of collegial governance.

“Collegial governance is at the heart of how universities run. The principle of shared governance results in a higher quality education, protects academic freedom, and underpins more democratic decision-making and accountability,” said David Robinson, CAUT Executive Director. “Academics from across the country should be outraged by the University administration’s attempt to undermine this core academic principle.”

The review process, which started in September 2019, had the stated objective of “modernizing” Laval’s statutes, but proposals put forward by the administration would limit the ability of academic staff to meaningfully participate in the academic governance of their institutions.

The most concerning recommendations would both limit the powers afforded the Conseil universitaire -- the  academic Senate which governs research, teaching, and student affairs, and effective participation  of academic staff.

“It has been well established and widely accepted that academic staff, through their participation in Senate and other academic governance bodies, exercise the primary responsibility for decision-making on all academic matters,” noted Robinson. “This must be maintained by all institutions to ensure the quality and integrity of the academic mission."

Members of SPUL and concerned organizations and individuals can participate in a consultation around the new statute recommendations until Friday, October 15 by contacting the Secretary General at Monique.Richer@sg.ulaval.ca. A detailed account of SPUL’s concerns with the proposed recommendations are available here.

Author: gagne
Posted: October 13, 2021, 3:44 pm

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on September 28, 2021. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue

  • CAUT working to hold government to account for PSE: post-election 2021
  • “Victory for academic freedom”: U of T reverses course on Dr. Azarova
  • Tuition fees on the rise: new Statistics Canada data
  • CAUT marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Register now for Indigenizing the Academy event
  • Looking to squeeze in some podcast listening this fall?
  • Upcoming Events

CAUT working to hold government to account for PSE: post-election 2021

CAUT will be working with all political parties in the 44th Parliament to push post-secondary education higher on the new government’s agenda. There were few promises related to post-secondary education and fewer on science and research made during election 2021, which saw a Liberal minority government returned to power. Answering calls from CAUT and other allies, the Liberals promised to protect public post-secondary educational institutions from being subject to corporate restructuring and to permanently increase funding for post-secondary institutions in official language minority communities to $80 million per year. 
 
To see what the parties promised, check out CAUT’s party platform analysis and party questionnaires. Read an op-ed by CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith published last week in the Hill Times, on a post-secondary agenda for the new government.

“Victory for academic freedom”: U of T reverses course on Dr. Azarova

On September 17, CAUT hit the pause button on the censure against University of Toronto, calling for its members and supporters within the University of Toronto, across the country and the world to suspend actions related to the censure against the U of T. This decision is in response to the U of T’s decision to reverse course and re-offer Dr. Valentina Azarova the position of Director of the International Human Rights Program in the Faculty of Law. CAUT’s Executive Committee considers U of T decision to be a “victory for academic freedom”.

Tuition fees on the rise: new Statistics Canada data

Undergraduate and graduate students across Canada—in particular, international students—are paying higher tuition fees this academic year. Nationally, Canadian students enrolled full-time in undergraduate programs will pay, on average, $6,693 in tuition for the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year, up 1.7% from the previous year. The average cost for graduate programs rose 1.5% to $7,472.  As provincial contributions to education have declined in recent years, post-secondary institutions are relying increasingly on international students to boost their revenue. International students are paying almost 5% more in 2021-2022. Overall, tuition now accounts for more than one-third (31.6%) of the operating revenue stream for post-secondary education institutions—up from one-quarter (25.5%) six years ago.

CAUT marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On Thursday September 30, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, CAUT calls on members to honour the Indigenous people who survived the residential school system, mourns those who were lost, and affirms its commitment to the restoration and renewal of Indigenous practices, languages, knowledge, and communities. Many post-secondary institutions across the country are observing this day by canceling classes and suspending non-essential campus services. CAUT encourages academic staff associations and their members to consider how the work they do can lead to a deeper understanding of how Canada became the country it is today.

Register now for Indigenizing the Academy event

Registration is now open for the CAUT virtual forum “Building Solidarity and Alliances: Indigenizing the Academy” on Friday, 15 October 2021. This webinar is an opportunity for all members of the academic community—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and explore concrete approaches to advancing and strengthening Indigenization. Panel presentations focus on collective bargaining wins, Indigenous self-identification, and recruitment and retention of Indigenous faculty and staff. Details to register and complete agenda can be found on the CAUT website.

Looking to squeeze in some podcast listening this fall?

Here are two suggestions, to get you going.

In episode 4 (The Conquest of Bread) of the Darts and Letters podcast, host Gordon Katic takes on the “long and sordid” history of McKinsey and Company, the management consultants hired by the Alberta government in 2020 to conduct a $3.7 million review of the province’s post-secondary education system. His guests include Joel Westheimer, University Research Chair in Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa, and Matthew Stewart, author of the tell-all book The Management Myth: Debunking the Modern Philosophy of Business. The Darts and Letters podcast is a recommendation from Marc Spooner, a professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Regina.

Episode 698 (Journalism Schools Are Revolting) of Canadaland podcast – a well-known Canadian brand with weekly episodes and diverse guest co-hosts – deconstructs the controversial revolt against institutionalized racism and discrimination at Ryerson University.

Happy listening!

Upcoming events

Author: charest
Posted: September 29, 2021, 7:00 am

(Ottawa, September 30, 2021) On this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) honours the Indigenous people who survived the residential school system, mourns those who were lost, and affirms its commitment to the restoration and renewal of Indigenous practices, languages, knowledge, and communities.

Many post-secondary institutions across the country are observing this day by canceling classes and suspending non-essential campus services. CAUT encourages academic staff associations and their members to consider how the work they do can lead to a deeper understanding of how Canada became the country it is today.

We recognize how much still needs to be done to achieve the  recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report. These include increased federal funding for Indigenous students seeking post-secondary education, bringing Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms, a national research program to advance understanding of reconciliation and the availability of degree and diploma programs in Indigenous languages.   

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation provides an occasion to take stock of how we are collectively advancing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls to action. We call on all provincial governments to officially recognize and commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a permanent statutory holiday.

Author: gagne
Posted: September 28, 2021, 12:02 pm

(Ottawa, September 17, 2021) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) today is calling for its members and supporters within the University of Toronto, across the country, and around the world to suspend actions related to the censure against the university administration.  

The announcement is in response to the University of Toronto's decision to reverse course and re-offer Dr. Valentina Azarova the position of Director of the International Human Rights Program in the Faculty of Law.

CAUT’s Executive Committee considers this latest development to be a “victory for academic freedom” and one that satisfies the principal condition for a resolution of the dispute. 

CAUT Council will vote on the formal lifting of censure at its meeting in November. In the meantime, the University is encouraged to take action to resolve other outstanding issues in the case, including explicitly extending academic freedom protections to academic managerial positions and developing clear policies that prohibit donor interference in internal academic affairs.

Author: gagne
Posted: September 17, 2021, 2:12 pm

(Ottawa – September 6, 2021) This Labour Day, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) pays tribute to the tireless efforts of workers and the trade union movement in weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, while standing up for conditions and workplace practices that promote social equity.

At a time when many hard-working people in universities and colleges face increasing uncertainty—due to the devastating impacts of COVID-19, shrinking government funding, threats to academic freedom, and attacks on shared governance—CAUT encourages academic staff to renew their commitment to collective action, and take stock of what is important for the future.

“For our future, what’s most pressing is to continue to fight for workplace rights that will allow us to better serve the public interest,” said CAUT president Brenda Austin-Smith.  “We are stronger when we organize and push to protect academic job security, uphold the highest levels of health and safety in the workplace, and promote collegial institutional governance.”

Author: charest
Posted: September 3, 2021, 9:24 pm

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on August 24, 2021. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue

  • Federal election 2021: Strengthening post-secondary education for our future
  • CAUT urges vaccine requirements as part of measures for safe re-opening
  • Win for post-secondary education in Canada: two recent court rulings
  • Education International calls for education to be protected in Afghanistan
  • Upcoming events

Federal election 2021: Strengthening post-secondary education for our future

A snap federal election has been called for September 20, presenting an opportunity for CAUT members to press for strong federal leadership and renewed investment in post-secondary education and research.

This week CAUT launched its non-partisan For Our Future campaign to support associations in planning effective local campaigns. A dedicated election website for the campaign provides resources such as an organizing guideanalysis of the issues, and a tool to help members advocate for post-secondary education and reach out directly to candidates.

CAUT is calling for an increase of $3 billion dollars to transfers to the provinces for public post-secondary education. Alongside the funding, we are asking the next federal government to work with the provinces on a national strategy for post-secondary education that focuses on access and affordability for all.  Priorities for funding should include closing the research funding gap, investments in Indigenous education, and increases to the Canada Student Grants.    

CAUT urges vaccine requirements as part of measures for safe re-opening

As many post-secondary institutions prepare for a return to campus this fall, CAUT is calling for COVID-19 vaccination requirements for students and staff to be part of a comprehensive safety plan.

The latest information compiled by CAUT, as of August 17, shows that almost half (46%) of the country’s universities and colleges are planning a return to in-person instruction. Twenty-five institutions will require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated to access campus. More than a quarter (28%) will require students staying in residences to have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

CAUT executive director David Robinson notes that the legal issues raised by mandatory vaccine policies can be addressed if “specific policies are fair, reasonably applied, respectful of human rights and privacy laws, and consistent with any negotiated collective agreement with campus unions and employee associations.”

Read the full CAUT vaccine requirements news release here.

Win for post-secondary education in Canada: two recent court rulings

Two court rulings—both cases in which CAUT was an intervenor—are being hailed as a victory for the post-secondary education sector this summer.  

In their unanimous ruling on July 31st, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a ruling that mandatory collective licenses to Access Copyright cannot be imposed on York University, and recognized that it is in the public interest that students be able to access education materials.

“For too many years, the education sector has had to pay twice: once for the initial creation of the educational material and the second time to Access Copyright to access its own content,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “This decision ensures that students and educational institutions are not overpaying for educational and research materials which are integral to quality education.”

The decision also sustains the Supreme Court’s previous rulings that fair dealing is a user’s right. The court reiterated that whether fair dealing can be used must be decided from the perspective of the end users, in this case students, and not intermediaries like educational institutions.

A few days later, on August 4th, Ontario’s Court of Appeal dismissed the Ford government’s bid to overturn an earlier decision quashing the so-called Student Choice Initiative—a measure announced in January 2019 that would have required student unions to allow members to “opt out” of paying for services deemed “non-essential.” Those services include student clubs, campus newspapers, food banks and other support services. The Canadian Federation of Students and the York Federation of Students argued that the Ford government Initiative targeted student unions—and was a politically-motivated attack on the autonomy of post-secondary educational institutions.

Education International calls for education to be protected in Afghanistan

In the wake of the Taliban seizing Kabul, Afghanistan, Education International (EI) last week issued a statement of support for its member organisation, the National Teachers Elected Council of Afghanistan, and the Afghanistan Teacher Support Association.

EI expressed grave concerns about the safety of educators and about equal access to education for all, especially for girls. EI called for the implementation of its Declaration on schools as safe sanctuaries, and voiced the collective demand by teachers and unions worldwide that education should be protected in times of conflict—reiterating that “schools are centers of learning, inspiration and growth and must never be targets of terrorism and violence.”

The statement reads in part, “Governments around the world have the responsibility to do everything in their power to protect the right of girls to go to school and to thrive free of prejudice, harassment and violence.”

Upcoming events

Author: charest
Posted: August 27, 2021, 3:18 pm