Nov 202017

University of Manitoba

One year ago today, members of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association ratified an agreement after being on strike for three weeks. Seeking provisions on performance indicators, workload, and powers of Deans, UMFA members had voted 86% in favour of strike action. A further issue of deep concern was that the Pallister government had directed the university to extend its collective agreement by one year at 0%. As UMFA President Mark Hudson pointed out, such directives represent “illegitimate government interference in a constitutionally protected process of collective bargaining” and that the province had “unnecessarily endangered a complex negotiation through this misguided interference,” thereby jeopardizing the educational goals of the 29,000 students at U of Manitoba. UMFA made significant gains: the new collective agreement included workload protections, enhancements to collegial governance, and fair assessment practices.

Nonetheless, UMFA has charged the university with bargaining in bad faith during their contract negotiations because the provincial government had instructed the university to rescind a proposal that included wage increases, and replace it with a one-year agreement with a wage freeze. Their unfair labour practice complaint is proceeding.

Academic Labour Relations in Canada today

This fall has been particularly troubling with a number of strikes and strike mandates resulting from similar disputes in Canada over collegial governance by faculty members, fair workloads, compensation, the collective bargaining processes that help to protect those rights for academic faculty members, and the effects on students and their academic programs when these values are threatened.

Laurentian University Faculty Association

In September the Laurentian University Faculty Association received a strike mandate from its members with 91% of those voting in support of job action. Major issues in the labour dispute for LUFA included increased workload without extra supports to compensate, transparent governance with meaningful participation by faculty members, and a rollback in salaries. “Faculty are over-worked and under-supported,” the union said, “the university must enable us to provide a high-quality education to our students. We think the university should be run openly and transparently, with our meaningful participation. Our goal is to protect and promote a positive, enriching learning environment for our students.

LUFA president Jim Ketchen commented that “For over 35 years, LUFA and the university administration have, through our collective agreements, worked together to offer positive and enriching education to our students… LUFA wants to protect Laurentian’s learning environment from proposed rollbacks.”

After a 10-day strike, members of the Laurentian University Faculty Association ratified a new contract.

Teaching Faculty at University of Ontario Institute of Technology

The academics who are not in full-time tenure-track positions find themselves in particularly precarious working environments. Teaching Faculty Members at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, a small unit of teaching-intensive faculty with the highest teaching workload in Ontario, voted 85.7% in favour of taking strike action this October. Workload and work/life balance were the bargaining priorities for Teaching Faculty at UOIT, who had been negotiating for months to address their lack of job security, unreasonable workloads, and lower pay than tenure-stream faculty. Their mandate was simply to be treated fairly and equitably compared to their tenure-stream colleagues. “Is teaching excellence a priority at UOIT?” they asked. Just a few days ago on November 15, the Teaching Faculty unit was finally “heard” by the University and an agreement was ratified by both the membership and the Employer.

College Faculty in Ontario

After a five-week strike was ended over the weekend with back-to-work legislation, part-time college faculty in Ontario are returning to work today. The CAAT-Academic Divisional Executive of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union were striking for the right to academic freedom in their collective agreement, full-time employment, and a seniority system for their members who do not have full-time employment (70–80% of college faculty are contract and just 20–30% are full time).

Unlike universities in the province and other post-secondary institutions in Canada, Ontario’s public colleges concentrate both academic and administrative decision-making in administration rather than faculty. Contract faculty are particularly vulnerable to attacks on their integral role in the university. “Academic freedom—what should be the foundational value of every university and college—has never existed in the Ontario college system,” they explain, and as a result, “management exerts total control over academic decision-making. The impacts on students of how academic decisions are made—and who makes them—are far-reaching.”

Contract faculty sought equitability and fairness: there is no seniority system, and contracts are offered every 4 months. The employer’s proposed deal would increase the ratio of contract faculty, and OPSEU argues that colleges are using precarious work as a tool to cut costs, something that leaves students in an unfair situation where they’re now “paying more for reduced access to securely employed and fairly-compensated faculty who can focus on students’ needs in the short and long term.” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has stated, “We don’t want a Walmart model of education. It’s not good for students, and it’s not good for faculty.”

Acadia University Faculty Association strike mandate

On November 14, the Acadia University Faculty Association issued a strike deadline of Monday, November 27.

“After months of trying to get the university to bargain productively for a fair and equitable collective agreement, we have no choice but to call for legal strike action,” said AUFA President Stephen Ahern.

AUFA began negotiations in late March, but reached an impasse in June when the board refused to discuss key faculty proposals. AUFA filed for the assistance of a provincial conciliator in early September. After conciliation stalled on the first day, AUFA members voted 81% in favour of strike action.

The major outstanding issues for AUFA include restoring full-time faculty positions, addressing pay equity, achieving salaries in line with regional averages, and gaining a commitment to fundraise for a campus childcare centre. The board has rejected these proposals while asking for significant concessions, including clawing back the compensation of part-time faculty.


Many of these disputes contribute to a threat against collegiality—the participation of academic employees in academic governance. Collegiality depends on academic freedom, fair workloads, and treating academic employees as conscientious professionals whose expertise and participation in academic matters is both valued and exercised.

“At a time when the importance of academic standards is higher than ever, it is untenable that faculty remain marginalized from academic decisions,” wrote Kevin MacKay, Vice-President of OPSEU Local 240 last June. “The time for collegial governance, for elected, faculty-majority senates in each college, and academic freedom for individual faculty, is now.” Today is a sad day for Ontario college faculty. USFA stands in solidarity with all faculty members who are fighting for and defending these fundamental principles of collegial governance.

Nov 162017

The university is moving to semi-monthly pay for all faculty and staff starting January 1, 2018.

This move is for compliance with provincial labour legislation.

Every month will be divided into two pay periods. First period will be from the 1st – 15th with salary payment on the 15th for salaried employees and on the 21st for hourly-paid employees. Second period will be from the 16th – the end of the month, with salary payment at the end of the month for salaried employees and on the 6th of the succeeding month for hourly-paid employees.

This payroll change may mean you need to adjust the timing of automatic withdrawals for payments such as a mortgage, bill or loan payment. It’s a good idea to review your budget, expenses and financial obligations. Contact your financial institution and other related businesses before the end of December to make adjustments and ensure any automatic withdrawals align with the new semi-monthly pay dates.

For more information:

Nov 142017

At the recent AGM, after Senior Grievance Office Patricia Farnese reported despite unprecedented numbers of arbitrations, some members asked whether this is an attempt to strain the resources of the Association. Secretary-Treasurer Susan Fowler-Kerry reported that USFA remains in a good financial decision. Almost thirty years ago, the membership of USFA voted to establish a […]

Nov 102017

At our Annual General Meeting, Senior Grievance Office Patricia Farnese reporting on behalf of the Association Grievance Committee (AGC) said that the number of grievances the Association is dealing with has been unprecedented. Some highlights from her report: For the second time, a member of Senior Administration was found to have discriminated or retaliated against […]

Nov 012017

If you are required to maintain a certification or license in order to perform your academic duties, you may be eligible for reimbursement of some or all of your licensing or certification fees (Article 22.12.2). Claims for reimbursement must be submitted between November 1 and December 1, 2017. What you need to know: Claim forms […]

Oct 312017

Our collective agreement expired June 30, 2017 and we have begun negotiations with the employer. We do not anticipate this being an easy, or a quick, round of negotiations. While our theme for negotiations planning has been “equity and stability” including issues of scope and rank for academic clinicians in the College of Medicine (see […]

Oct 302017

The Association has filed a grievance with respect to the recommendation for tenure and rank after a decanal level appointment. This is not a personal attack on the qualifications of the unit leader, but a matter of upholding the integrity of the collegial processes defined in our Collective Agreement and protecting the jurisdiction of the […]

Oct 262017

An Arbitrator recently ruled that the actions of a Dean in removing the responsibility for a University exchange program from a faculty member’s assigned duties for the 2015-2016 academic year was a violation of the collective agreement, and that the Dean’s action was discriminatory and retaliatory in nature because the member had expressed her intention […]

Oct 242017

Some time ago, as part of the UnivRS project, the University undertook to convert curricula vitae of faculty members to a standard format. The process of conversion has not proceeded as quickly as anticipated, and many faculty members have shared concerns with us about errors in the data entry process, limitations with the software, and […]

Oct 192017

Your Benefits Committee and the Grievance Committee raised serious concerns  about the issues associated with members gaining access to and possible privacy of information violations on the Total Rewards Website. On September 14, 2017, we sent out an e-Letter explaining our concerns about the scope of rights you were being asked to waive to gain […]

Oct 162017

Members of the Executive of the Faculty Association, including our Senior Grievance Officer, Patricia Farnese, had an opportunity to discuss forthcoming changes to computer security with senior ICT staff, including Associate Vice-President of Information and Communication Technology, Shari Baraniuk. The plan includes increasing the security around sensitive institutional information, but also requirements for more security […]

Oct 122017

The issue of excessive workload assignments has been raised by members in at least one unit who feel the burden of the institution’s financial concerns are being shifted onto the backs of members. More than a decade ago, USFA negotiated an article entitled Guidelines for Assignment of Duties (article 11.5 in the Collective Agreement). The […]

Oct 052017

Those reading Academica’s Top Ten, especially in combination with local messaging, may have noticed mixed messages as regards attitudes towards faculty compensation. Recently, Academica’s Top Ten cited a Star-Phoenix report that “Despite its recent fiscal challenges and what a recent report described as the erosion of Canada’s research competitiveness, the University of Saskatchewan is ‘punching […]

Sep 142017

The University has contracted with a third party to communicate information about benefits with faculty without notice or explanation to the USFA.  Access to the “My Total Rewards” program is available through the employee tab on PAWS. The Association is concerned about the scope of rights members are being asked to waive to gain access […]

Jun 212017

The memo that went out to USFA members from Human Resources yesterday about the MRARP contains several errors. The Detailed Plan Information page linked from the memo references an “Application Process” and provides a link to an “Application” form, which specifies that “your Dean will provide decisions (approvals and deferrals) to you no later than Sept. 30, 2018.” In […]

May 192017

The USFA Scholarship Program is open to students who are immediate family members of USFA members. Immediate family includes spouse/partner, sons, daughters or children whom USFA members have served as legal guardians. The application form for the 2016-2017 USFA Scholarship Fund Program is now available exclusively online at: Students can apply online through their […]

May 082017

We are delighted to welcome newly elected members to the USFA Executive Committee: Erika Dyck (History), Mark Meyers (History), Anne Springer (Nursing), and Jesse Stewart (Linguistics). We welcome back for another term Doug Chivers (Biology), and Eric Neufeld (Computer Science). We thank our outgoing members, Patricia Farnese (Law), Len Findlay (English), and John Moraros (Public […]

May 012017

The USFA Scholarship Program is open to students who are immediate family members of USFA members. Immediate family includes spouse/partner, sons, daughters or children whom USFA members have served as legal guardians. The application form for the 2016-2017 USFA Scholarship Fund Program is now available exclusively online at: Students can apply online through their […]

Apr 262017

In our previous e-letter we requested feedback, both to University Council and to the Board of Governors, about new policies and procedures proposed by the College of Medicine which would result in the academic ranks of Assistant, Associate, and full Professor being awarded to ca. 1500 clinicians who currently practice medicine in the province of […]