Solidarity with CUPE 2424

The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) wishes to express its solidarity with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2424, the union representing over 800 administrative, technical, and library staff at Carleton University. Members of CUPE 2424 are currently on strike to safeguard their bargaining rights and to protect their pension benefits.

We denounce Carleton University’s attempts to remove pension benefits from the Collective Agreement with CUPE 2424, and the misinformation campaign they have been engaging in about the union and the bargaining process. Eliminating pension benefits from the Collective Agreement would allow Carleton University to unilaterally alter and claw back benefits in the pension plan, without consulting the union or its membership. We are furthermore, extremely concerned with Carleton University’s practice of downloading CUPE 2424 work on our peers represented by Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA). The APUO calls on Carleton University to return to the bargaining table, re-engage in negotiations in good faith, and cease to engage in unfair labour practices.

The APUO wholeheartedly supports CUPE 2424’s efforts to protect their bargaining rights and their members’ pension benefits. Precarious labour is on the rise at postsecondary institutions across the country, and we commend the work of CUPE 2424 in defending the working conditions of administrative, technical and library staff at Carleton University.

Collective Bargaining Update

Dear members,

Collective bargaining began on January 31, when both parties tabled their normative proposals. They will present their financial proposals at the April 4 meeting. Similarly to the 2015-2016 round of negotiations, the meetings are conducted respectfully. Each party submits written proposals, explains them, and has the opportunity to justify the relevance of proposed additions, withdrawals or amendments. However, as the weeks have progressed, and as demonstrated in the table below (data as of March 9), negotiations appear to have stalled:

Number of proposals Number and proportion of proposals that have received a response Number and proportion of negative counter-proposals Number and proportion of counter-proposals demonstrating a willingness to identify an acceptable solution for both parties
University administration 17 17 (100%) 26 of the 27 proposals tabled by the APUO (96%)

 

1 of the 27 proposals tabled by the APUO (4%)
APUO 34 27 (79%) 9 of the 17 proposals tabled by the Administration (53%) 8 of the 17 proposals tabled by the Administration (47%)

So far, as you can see, the Administration’s team has not been negotiating in a spirit of exchange and compromise. They have rejected all but one of the APUO proposals to which they have replied. The tabled changes to the language of Article 17, which aim to replace all references of under-representation of women and men to “equity groups,” is the only APUO proposal being considered by the Administration.

Additionally, the Administration refuses to renew the APUO complement (minimum employment level). In practical terms, if it is not renewed, this will allow the Administration to abolish the positions of full-time faculty and librarians who leave the University, be it for retirement or any other reason. This will not only result in an increased workload for APUO members (who are already overburdened) but also in a considerable impoverishment of teaching and research at the University of Ottawa.

Many of us hoped that Jacques Frémont’s arrival as President would have a positive impact on the Administration’s approach at the bargaining table. Regrettably, we note that this is not the case at all. Given this situation, rest assured that the APUO team is calm, methodical and working tirelessly to get the Administration to negotiate. Nevertheless, your support and commitment are essential to the signing of a fair, equitable and accountable agreement for the future of the quality of teaching and research (as a whole) at our University. We will continue to keep you informed of both positive and negative developments at the bargaining table. We also remain available to meet with your academic unit upon your request, in a spirit of accountability, transparency, and collegiality. To do so, please contact our President Susan Spronk at apuopres@uottawa.ca.

Update – Campaign on the issue of workload

Dear members,

During the fall semester, a group of nine professors from five faculties wrote a letter to the Vice-President Academic and Provost regarding workload. This letter, which you can read here, aimed to bring the increasing workload of professors to his attention and requested that he rectifies the situation. In particular, the letter called for the hire of more support staff, emphasizing that support staff members are overworked as well. We are now in a position to provide you with an update on this collective action.

Distributed with the support of the APUO, the letter garnered remarkable support: 354 regular professors and four librarians (with gender parity), i.e. nearly one-third of the APUO membership. This number is all the more impressive as many assistant professors mentioned that they did not sign the letter for fear of delaying or jeopardizing their promotion – which conveys a worrying message about the work environment at the University of Ottawa. Thus, only 35 of 228 assistant professors signed the letter, compared to 159 of 313 associate professors, and 157 of 328 full professors.

The letter was sent to the Vice-President Academic and Provost on December 11 and was acknowledged by him on December 13. On January 30, three of the authors of the letter met with David Graham (Vice-President Academic and Provost), Sylvain Charbonneau (Vice-President Research), and Marc Joyal (Vice-President Resource). The authors reported on the situation and reiterated the importance of a rapid and concrete response to the problems described in the letter. On February 6, at a meeting of the Joint Consultation and Communication Committee (article 5.7 of the Collective Agreement) attended by David Graham, APUO representatives reiterated that members are very concerned with the increased workload and that they expect the administration to take swift and concrete action to improve the situation.

On February 8, in his reply to the letter, the Vice-President Academic and Provost thanked the authors for their contribution to the University administration’s reflection and wrote the following:

As we have told you, we are currently undertaking an in-depth review of our administrative services to make these support activities more flexible, streamlined and improved. The question of the role and size of support staff will undoubtedly arise in the context of this review, including whether our numbers are insufficient or how our staff are distributed and deployed within our academic and administrative units.

The APUO thanks David Graham for taking the time to meet with and listen to the authors of the letter. Under Allan Rock’s administration, the letters from APUO members were often unanswered.

That said, the Vice-President Academic and Provost’s response offers nothing concrete in the short term. In this context, we recently asked David Graham that the review be conducted in a transparent manner, with a known timeframe, and in cooperation with the various unions on campus. We are awaiting for his response. Please rest assured that we will continue to work on this issue in close collaboration with the authors of the letter. We will inform you of any significant developments. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

The APUO executive