APUO VOTES MASSIVELY IN FAVOUR OF A STRIKE MANDATE

Dear APUO members,

Members have voted 82% in favour of authorizing the Executive Committee to call a strike if necessary. 691 ballots were cast, 563 voted “Yes,” 127 voted “No,” with one spoiled ballot.

The APUO remains committed to negotiating a fair deal that promotes the quality of education and fair working conditions at the university. Mediation is scheduled for August 3rd and 4th.

We sincerely thank our members, our union partners on campus, and student associations for this strong show of support.

Sincerely,

The Executive Committee

URGENT – Bargaining information & Bargaining Bulletin #9

Dear APUO members,

Throughout these negotiations, the APUO believes that the employer has acted in many ways that contravene both the spirit and the letter the Ontario Labour Relations Act. Such actions have included stating false information; refusing to share data they are legally obligated to release; communicating in ways that constitute attempts to negotiate directly with the membership; and now, seeking to intimidate members in order to influence the strike mandate vote planned for July 31.

Since the beginning of this process, it has been clear to the APUO that the employer has been using its vast institutional resources to wage a battle against members and the APUO. Up to this point, the APUO has assumed that members would prefer that we focus on negotiations rather than use the legal system to respond to the employer’s unacceptable actions. We had also hoped that, even if the employer continued its dishonourable actions, it would have at least ceased the ones we believe to be unlawful.

As you all know by now, this has not been the case. With its communications on Thursday and Friday of last week, the APUO can no longer ignore the issue. Peter Simpson (one of CAUT’s most seasoned advisers with more than 20 years experience) said that the employer’s communication was “unprecedented” in his experience, and that “it is hard to read it as something other than an attempt to interfere in the union’s credibility and its communications with its members ahead of a strike vote”.

Therefore, this morning the APUO has responded in the only way possible under the Ontario labour law. We have filed an application to the Ministry of Labour requesting that it (a) investigate the employer’s violations of the Ontario Labour Relations Act; (b) force the employer to disclose information required by the APUO for bargaining and insist that the employer respect the law regarding its communications; and (c) award the APUO damages to compensate for the employer’s illegal activity. You can find more detailed information about this in the Bargaining Bulletin #9.

More than ever, the employer’s actions signal that a strike mandate is critical to conclude this round of collective bargaining. To begin, the employer executed a strategy that forced negotiations to a crisis point during the summer, betting no doubt that the APUO would be intimidated into accepting an unreasonable offer. Since we have not responded in that fashion, the employer is now doing everything in its power to stop members from expressing their collective support to the APUO Executive Committee and negotiating team and voting YES to a strike mandate. The employer is doing so precisely because a successful strike mandate vote means that they will have to offer APUO members a significantly better deal than what they have tabled so far. We are convinced that members will see through the employer’s tactics and recognize them for what they really are.
In this context, the APUO is therefore asking you to support a strike mandate, because it is an absolutely necessary tool to get our members a fair deal that properly enhances the quality of education and ensures fair working conditions for all members.

Consequently, voting NO to a strike mandate is not about voting to accept the employer’s latest offer. Voting against a strike mandate sends a message to the employer that it can behave in any illegal or illegitimate manner with impunity. It is a vote for the employer to bully its employees (not just in negotiations, but in everyday working relations) to any extent. It tells the employer that it can use the same unlawful intimidation tactics to win greater and greater concessions from APUO members on a growing number of issues.
Voting YES to a strike mandate is not voting to go on strike immediately. It is allowing the Executive Committee to call a strike if and only if mediation fails and it is absolutely necessary to get a negotiated agreement that is fair and equitable. It is choosing to tell the employer that it cannot ignore the membership’s views and cannot unilaterally impose its own preferences on them. It is choosing to demonstrate that APUO members will not reward the employer’s unacceptable and illegal actions. Most importantly, it is voting to take a stand for respect and collegiality, and show the employer that their new, aggressive, corporate-style approach will not work now, or in the future.

We end this communication by sharing an unsolicited letter sent to President Rock (and copied to us) by Michael Behiels, an APUO member who reflects on the employer’s recent actions in the context of what he has seen over the course of his (almost) 40-year career as a professor.

Thank you very much for your continued strong support. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on July 31.

Sincerely,

The APUO Executive Committee

URGENT – BARGAINING INFORMATION

Dear APUO members,

As mentioned at the end of our last communication sent on July 24, you will find here a document explaining why we are asking for a strike mandate on July 31, as well as the reasons why it is essential to vote YES to this mandate in order to increase the likelihood of obtaining a fair and equitable settlement that would also support the quality of education in our university.

You will find here a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the main issues of concern for our members in the event of a strike.

You will find here a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) specific to the logistical issues for research and scholarly activities when on strike.

You will also find here the lockout/strike protocol given by the APUO to the employer several weeks ago. Even though this protocol is a true reflection of standard norms and practices in place in Ontario universities, and therefore has no polemical provision, the employer has yet to sign it, or even actually discuss it if needed. Yet, the clarity and predictability that come with such a protocol are also in the interest of a responsible employer.

Finally, for our members who would wish to look a them again, please find here Analysis of Employer proposal  and  Financial situation a revised version of the analysis presented at the July 3rd Special General Assembly (SGA) on the employer’s latest proposal, as well as the presentation on the employer’s real financial situation that was made at the same SGA. Keep in mind that this analysis does not rest on a comprehensive evaluation of the proposal, since the employer is still refusing to share the information needed to assess all of the implications (including those of article 7.2 of the collective agreement). Having said that, our analysis already makes it clear that the employer’s proposal, though it may appear reasonable on the surface, is of no interest once carefully examined.

We thank you for your strong continued support towards your Executive Committee an your Negotiating Team.

Sincerely,

The APUO Executive Committee

SPECIAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY 31 JULY 2013

Dear APUO Members,

As you know, after little more than three months of bargaining, the employer called a No board last week and thus ensured that on August 8, it will be in a legal position to lockout APUO members and/or unilaterally rewrite the collective agreement. Since a strike is the only action the APUO can potentially take to stop the employer from doing this, we have no choice but to ask our members for a strike mandate by holding a strike vote.  A successful strike vote is the only way for members to allow the APUO to negotiate a fair and equitable deal, and be protected from the employer unilaterally locking members out or re-writing the collective agreement as of August 8.

Therefore, a Special General Assembly will be held to discuss the issue from 10h00-11h30 in the Marion Auditorium (140 Louis-Pasteur) on July 31, as previously mentioned. Voting will be done by secret ballot from 11h00 – 18h00 in front of the auditorium. 

Please note the following details:

What is the question?

The ballot question will be as follows:  “I vote in favour of a strike and authorize the Executive Committee to decide if/when a strike should occur”. You will have to choose between “Yes” or “No”.

How will the votes be collected and counted?

The votes will be collected and counted by an independent accounting firm (Welch, LLP) who will report and officially attest the results to the APUO.  No members of the Executive Committee or the APUO staff will be in possession of the ballots at any time.

What if I do not work on the main campus?

To ensure as much accessibility as possible, the APUO has hired a shuttle bus to pickup any APUO members who would like to vote from the Roger-Guindon campus (departing the Science H building at 9:30, returning at 12h00), and bring them to the main campus.

What does voting in favour of a strike vote mean?

Voting ‘yes’ does not mean that we will necessarily go on strike. Of the 13 strike mandates won by 11 faculty associations in Ontario in the last 5 years, only 1 has actually had to go on strike.  All the others reached fair agreements after being empowered by a strike mandate. Voting ‘yes’ does give the Executive Committee the authority to eventually call a strike should it become absolutely necessary to reach a fair settlement.

Why is the vote being conducted in this way?

To determine how to conduct such a vote, the APUO consulted its internal and external legal counsel, as well as CAUT.  Given the APUO’s constitution and the stipulations of the Labour Relations Act, we were advised to hold the vote in the same way that the APUO holds the one other type of vote overseen by the Labour Relations Board: a ratification vote.  In conformity with the law, the APUO has always held this vote by secret ballot in conjunction with a Special General Assembly.  We were advised that the voting should be open for at least 4 hours.  Previous APUO ratification votes have been open between 4-6 hours.  We have chosen to keep the vote open longer than that to create as much access as possible.  Therefore voting will be open for 7 consecutive hours from 11h00-18h00.

What additional information will be available to help me decide?

You will receive additional information in the following days.  Please read it very carefully.  In particular, you will receive (a) a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ with details on a strike mandate, a strike vote, what a strike/lockout would entail, etc.; (b) the standard lockout/strike protocol used by other universities that the APUO has proposed to the employer; (c) other documents about the negotiating process and issues of the current round of collective bargaining. To the same extent, the first part of the Special General Assembly on July 31 (30 minutes) will make it possible to share the latest information with members. The second part (60 minutes or more if needed) will make it possible for members to ask all of their questions, to present their viewpoints and their arguments to all members present.

Please make every effort possible to be present at the July 31 Special General Assembly, and try to convince as many colleagues as possible to come with you.

Sincerely,

The APUO Executive Committee

EMPLOYER’S PROPOSAL

Dear APUO members,

Please find here Analysis of Employer proposal and Financial situation a revised version of the analysis presented at the July 3rd Special General Assembly (SGA) on the employer’s latest proposal, as well as the presentation on the employer’s real financial situation that was made at the same SGA. Keep in mind that this analysis does not rest on a global evaluation of the proposal, since the employer is still refusing to share the information needed to assess all of the implications (including those of article 7.2 of the collective agreement). Having said that, our analysis already makes it clear that the employer’s proposal, though it may appear reasonable on the surface, is of no interest once carefully examined. As always, do not hesitate to send us your questions and comments.

Sincerely,

The APUO Executive Committee

SPECIAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY 31 JULY 2013

Dear APUO members,

On July 3rd, the APUO held a special general assembly to update members on the current round of negotiations and discuss potential next steps.  It was a historic meeting with a record-breaking number of 222 members attending, despite the fact that it had to be held at a time when members are less present on campus because of holidays and field-research.  As a follow up to this meeting, we want to share the following with all members:

1.      After outlining the implications and timing of the employer-initiated process of conciliation, the necessity of holding a strike mandate vote in the coming weeks was discussed in order to enable the APUO to be in a position of strength during mediation.  The Executive Committee will therefore call another Special General Meeting for Wednesday, July 31, from 9:00 AM to noon in the Marion Hall Auditorium (140 Louis Pasteur).  The precise agenda for this meeting will be determined closer to the date of the meeting, pending developments in the negotiations.  Please do everything you can to make sure you can participate in this meeting since it may be a determining moment in these negotiations.

2.      The Executive Committee shared a variety of presentations with the membership at the special General Assembly of July 3.  Over the next two weeks, we will be sending out slightly more detailed versions of these presentations so that members who were not able to participate can examine this material as well.  There will be significant information on the real financial situation of the university, a number of very detailed presentations on the facts of the pension plan, the University’s financial situation, as well as other topics.  We ask that you please take the time to read this information very carefully as we are trying to provide you with as much data and analysis as we possibly can to allow you to make your own judgments on some of the key issues in these negotiations.

3.      As a start, please find attached the President’s report delivered on July 3.  It outlines where we are, how we arrived here, and some of the potential paths and timelines moving forward.

Finally, we would like to thank all the APUO members for their very strong support.  We very much appreciate the emails we have received and the questions and comments at the Special General Assembly.  And we strongly believe that the strength and solidarity of the membership will ensure that we can negotiate a fair and equitable collective agreement with the employer to conclude this round of negotiations.

Sincerely,

The APUO Executive Committee