As you are no doubt aware, the Academic Staff Association of the University of Alberta (AASUA) and the University’s Board of Governors are currently negotiating a renewal collective agreement to replace the one which terminated on June 30, 2020. I know AASUA’s Lead Negotiator has been keeping you informed regarding the state and progress of those negotiations.
While we are all certainly hopeful that a fair agreement can be negotiated, it is necessary to be as prepared as possible should that not be the case. These have proven to be difficult negotiations. Accordingly, I have been asked by AASUA’s Executive to head up the Job Action Committee (JAC) in case strike action becomes necessary. While no one wants such action, it is crucial to plan for the possibility. I am fortunate as Katy Mackay was previously chairing the JAC and did most of the ‘heavy lifting’.
I recently discussed running an effective JAC with my counterpart at the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA). They are unfortunately in a strike with the University of Manitoba. It is interesting to note that UMFA has been offered a two year agreement with wage increases of 1¼ % for one year and 1½ % for the second year. Such an offer does not even maintain current wages given the current and anticipated rate of inflation.
At our University, AASUA members have received an offer of a four-year agreement with a 3% salary rollback in year one, retroactive to February 2021. That would result in AASUA members paying 3% of their salary back to the University. In the following three years, we would receive no increase. Additionally, serious rollbacks in employment benefits have been proposed by the employer.
I wanted to reach out to AASUA members to let you know of a planned Information Picket on Friday, November 26th at 12:00 noon. We are currently planning to hold the session on the Quad but are awaiting permission from the University. If the Quad is unavailable, the session will be scheduled for a suitable alternate location ASAP. Your AASUA Executive team wants to take the opportunity on the 26th to provide additional information and talk about what our options are and what we can expect in terms of timing etc. It is also, and perhaps most importantly, a show to the University of our collective strength.
While we are hoping to have a large turnout, it is critical that we observe as public health and University of Alberta rules. Accordingly, please ensure that you do not attend if you have been diagnosed with COVID, or any other communicable condition, or if you have any of the potential symptoms for COVID whether tested or not. For more information on this please refer to the following link https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17260.aspx. Also, please be aware that you must be able to provide your CampusReady Pass or vaccination proof with QR code. In accordance with the University policy, the event organizers will be checking these documents for all attendees. We will have appropriate masks on-hand if you forget to bring one with you and will have hand sanitizer available.
We will be joined by our friends in the Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA), the union representing more than 5,000 support staff at the University. NASA is also having their own challenges in obtaining a realistic collective agreement offer from the Board of Governors.
As a member of AASUA, what can you do? I would ask that you consider doing the following (please login to access the following links):
- Stay engaged in reading information from your Association including details from our negotiating team, which is headed up by Gordon Swaters, a University Professor in the Faculty of Science, who is a highly capable and experienced negotiator;
- Take part in the Annual General Meeting for members being held on November 19;
- Let us know that you want to take part in the Information Picket on November 26th by registering at this link your intention to take part; and
- Finally, we would love to hear from anyone interested in helping on the Job Action Committee. A variety of roles are available and I would be pleased to talk with anyone who is interested in more information.
I can be reached at my Email or at my Other Email.
F.W. [Rick] Brick
Chair – AASUA Job Action Committee
Associate Executive Professor
Alberta School of Business - Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Management