CUEFA : Strike Updates

Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association Makes History and Looks to the Future

Media Release: January 15, 2:00pm

(Edmonton, January 15)—The Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) today ratified the tentative agreement it reached with university administration, ending a landmark strike in Alberta’s union history. The agreement opens the door for classes to start on Wednesday January 19th, 2022. An official announcement is expected to follow from CUE administration. 89% of the membership (73 of 82 members) voted in favour of ratification. "This new agreement is a win for faculty, students and the community because it will enable the University to recruit and retain excellent faculty and lays the foundation for a stronger learning environment," said CUEFA President, Glynis Price. "Collective action is what made it possible, and CUEFA is grateful to the students, parents, other associations and allies across Canada who rallied in support of this strike."

CUEFA members went on strike on January 4, making history as the first Alberta faculty association to take job action. They were joined on the picket line by dozens of students, community allies and members from other faculty associations. Over 1350 individuals and organizations from across Canada sent messages to the university administration to put the interests of 'students and staff before profit," and a student-run petition gained more than 500 signatories supporting the faculty.

As CUE marks its hundredth anniversary, CUEFA asserts this Collective Agreement looks to the future. "Our vision for the future is a respectful and accountable workplace, a vibrant centre of learning," said Price. "We are proud that the placards on the picket line read ‘We are all CUE’ because each and every one of us is part of the community, and we will keep working hard so that our sessional colleagues and non-academic staff also realize better working conditions."

Salary gains will begin the process of bringing CUE faculty and academic service officers into line with other institutions; CUE faculty salaries rank 68 th of 70 Canadian universities. This new agreement also improves working conditions for CUEFA members by moving towards manageable workloads for professors, laboratory instructors, librarians, and field placement coordinators. The agreement also restores job security to members and preserves their ownership of their intellectual property.

CUEFA represents the interests of all probationary and permanent faculty members, professional librarians, laboratory instructors, and field placement coordinators.

For more information, please contact: Glynis Price, cueassociation@gmail.com

Town Hall (Jan. 12th) Recap

Read the documents from the Town Hall:

Download these documemts as .PDFs

Slides

FAQs

Notes

We held a Virtual Town Hall on January 12th at 7pm via zoom.

This was open to students, parents, sessionals, and anyone impacted by the ongoing labour dispute. Close to 400 people attended, half of whom were students.

Our goal for this Town Hall was to inform and answer questions.

Given that the strike is into its second week--and the impact on everyone involved is enormous-- we felt that our extended CUE community deserved an update and a chance to discuss and ask questions.

We presented a bargaining update.
We shared what information we have.
And we discussed, among other things:

What is at stake; What the key issues are; Why the faculty is on strike; How CUE can afford what we are proposing; What will it take to end the strike; and Next steps.

We also discussed what students and parents can do to help end the strike.

This town hall was close captioned. It was not recorded.

January 9th

CUEFA and the CUE administration have come to an agreement on the language for the discipline clause in our collective agreement for both ASOs and Faculty. This agreement means that faculty and ASOs can only be dismissed for ‘just cause.' Dealing with this issue was one of the issues we are striking for.

CUEFA and CUE administration have also reached agreement on smaller issues involving Medical Leave and Reduction in Force.

Negotiation was started on a number of other smaller issues including Ranks and Categories (i.e. promotion); Leaves of Absence; and Medical Leave.

There was no significant discussion on two key issues that prompted the strike: salary and Intellectual Property. But we are hopefully that negotiation on these issues will be ongoing this coming week.

Overall, the tone of negotiations was positive and constructive. We hope this tone continues. That said, there are still many issues to be dealt with and the strike will continue until these are resolved.

January 7th

After 4 days of silence and refusing to meet us at the bargaining table, CUE admin has agreed to come back to the bargaining table this weekend. There are still several issues to deal with; thus, it is not feasible to expect a return to classes at this point.

January 4th

Our strike action and picket lines started today. See also "media coverage", "media releases", and "photos".

January 3rd

One Day More! Tomorrow (Tuesday, January 4th) at 9am the Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association will be on strike. Mediation was unsuccessful at helping to resolve any remaining issues.

We plan to start our day at the Magrath Campus at 9am. Anyone is welcome to join us! We do ask that people respect the Highlands neighbourhood and stay off private property. If you are asked by someone to move, please do so. It's going to be a chilly one, so please dress warmly!

Note: The entire CUE Faculty will be losing access to our Concordia email accounts at 9am tomorrow. We will not be able to check messages at all. You will still be able to contact CEUFA at cueassociation@gmail.com.

December 22nd

Barring a deal at the table over the next two weeks, we will be on strike as of 09:00 a.m. on January 4, 2022.

More information will follow as to what this means for everyone.

Ideally, we want this to end at the bargaining table before the 4th.

Please contact Glynis Price with any questions at: glynis.price@cuefa.ca

Please send us a non-CUE email address as soon as possible, if you haven't already: graphic: generic calendar image cueassociation@cuefa.ca

RESULTS of the STRIKE VOTE:

(Confirmed by the Labour Board)

- 77/81 Members voted (just over 95%)
- 90% of Members voted in FAVOUR of strike action (YES)
- 10% of Members voted AGAINST strike action (NO)

A reminder that this does not mean we are on strike now, just that we have the option to choose to do so in the next 120 days. Our plan is to continue to bargain for the best possible deal for the membership.

Thank you all for your engagement in this process. We will share further plans and developments as they happen.

All CUEFA members:

If you have the opportunity to speak with your colleagues in-person, please remind them to send their personal email to cuefaculty@googlegroups.com

Recent Questions:

Why is the Faculty Association going on strike?

The FA is holding a strike vote, which may potentially lead to a strike. We are seeing if there is support among the Faculty Association members for job action given where things sit in the collective bargaining process. A strike vote does not necessarily mean a strike is inevitable

Why would Faculty be at the point of holding a strike vote?

We have been bargaining with the University for a number of months. While we are making progress on a number of parts of the agreement, we stalled on Workload in August. We went to mediation, where we bring in a labour expert to work with both sides on the issue. There was no movement and despite asking, no response to revisiting the article beyond what was last offered.

What are the biggest issues?

Workload, as mentioned above, is the biggest issue for the Faculty. Currently the workload is significantly higher than at any other university in Canada. The bargaining team for the Association asked for a streamed approach, where some faculty would stay at the current teaching load (4 courses a term) but have no required research component and some faculty would have a lower teaching load (3 courses a term) and would have research requirements. We understand that having to fill those courses with instructors would cost money, and so said that we would be flexible on how many Faculty they could move to the lower teaching load. The University offered a 4-3 teaching load (so 4 courses one term, and 3 the other) but increased research for everyone. While there is less teaching involved here, there are increased research expectations meaning that workload itself does not improve, it is just moved around.

Language was also introduced into the Discipline article that allows the University to discipline members for no cause. Currently there must be just cause to initiate any disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal (or firing).

Generally when discussing a package, you want the whole picture. The university will not present any proposal or language on Salary and Benefits. The Faculty Association provided our proposal as a part of our initial proposal package back in June.

Why did we hear about a strike vote from the President?

The bargaining team made the decision to not tell the students about the impending strike vote. We do not know what the results of the strike vote may be so it is rather premature. As well, we know what an odd and stressful term this has already been for students and did not believe that the added anxiety that may be caused by this was needed at the end of term and before exams without even knowing what the results might be.

What happens if the Faculty vote YES?

Then the Faculty Association Executive has been given a mandate from the members that they are not happy with the current state of negotiations. We have continually kept the members updated on bargaining and the offers from the University. If we have a mandate, then we continue to bargain with the University, hoping that we can come to some middle ground that works for both sides. If the University will not continue to bargain with us or will not work with us on the articles that are of utmost importance to our members, then we have the right, under the Labour Code of Alberta, to go on strike. We would have to give 72 hours notice to the University. A strike notice can be cancelled right up until the moment that the strike starts. A strike can be cancelled whenever an agreement can be made between both sides.

What does this mean for students?

It is our goal to keep any disruption to students to a minimum. We understand the stress and anxiety that may come from this, but we still do not know the results of the strike vote. We are hoping for a productive bargaining process where we can come to agreements with the administration. We do not want to strike, but the current Workload offer from the University is detrimental to the well-being of our current Faculty and will cause severe issues with both retention of our faculty as well as recruitment of new faculty.

So, has bargaining stopped?

The Faculty Association is fully committed to continued bargaining with the University regardless of the outcome of the strike vote. We provided an initial proposal to the University outlining all changes we hoped to bargain in the Collective Agreement. The proposal we received in return from the University was a commentary on the intention to make changes but very little information on the specifics that they are asking for. The chart on the University website is very misleading as there has been language provided on every article that we have proposed changes for.