Update COVID-19 LOUs and SSUO bargaining update

Dear members,
 
As this most unusual academic year gets underway, we share in everyone’s hope that the return of classes proceeds as smoothly as possible in the face of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
During the last two weeks, several issues have arisen regarding the interpretation and the renewal of some of the Letters of Understanding (LOU) signed between April and June. In this communication, we provide a brief update about these issues and about the Support Staff’s (SSUO) ongoing negotiations with the Central Administration.
 
Letters of Understanding
 
Student Evaluations of Teaching
 
In April, the APUO and the Central Administration signed a LOU on student evaluations of teaching specifically addressing the use of A-reports in career recommendations and decisions. Recognizing the exceptional circumstances under which teaching had to be delivered in the 2020 Winter and Spring/Summer terms, both parties agreed that for this particular period, “the Employer will not produce an A-report (as referred to in Article 24.3.2. 1 (a) of the Collective Agreement) but shall provide to Members only a report containing the results of the student responses to all of the questions in the questionnaire and the student comments (known as the “P-report”).” Put simply, members have the option of including in their tenure and promotion applications data from their P-reports for these two terms (which includes the students’ responses to the three questions usually found in A-reports). However, members are under no obligation to do so.
 
As of late August, the Central Administration has declined the APUO’s request to renew the student evaluations of teaching LOU for the Fall semester. We will be meeting with the Central Administration in the coming days to discuss this refusal and its heightened equity implications within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.[1] We will keep you informed as soon as there are new developments.  
 
The use of PER funds to hire a Research Assistant
 
Following confirmation from a representative of the Central Administration, in July, the APUO informed members that under the terms of the COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery LOU they had the option of hiring a Research Assistant (RA) using their Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER) fund. Recently, the Central Administration informed us there had been a misunderstanding in our exchanges, and that their interpretation of the LOU does not allow members to hire RAs to support the development and delivery of online or remote teaching. The APUO disagrees with this interpretation and has filed an association grievance. We will keep you informed of any developments.
 
Academic and Professional Leaves
 
In May, the APUO informed members that it had signed a LOU for members on or who were about to begin an academic or professional leave. Shortly after this LOU was signed, several members communicated with the APUO about significant discrepancies in its interpretation and application across Faculties. This approach is contrary to our efforts to create fair and equitable working conditions for all members and highlights the importance of establishing a collective operational framework for our work amid the pandemic. We have filed an association grievance regarding this matter as well. We have also asked for mediation with William Kaplan, who helped the parties to reach agreement on and sign two letters of understanding on June 30.
 
We thank members for their continued support throughout the negotiating of seven LOUs since March. We remain committed both to protecting your interests and rights, and to ensuring this academic year is as enriching as possible for our students. 
 
Should you require assistance or have any questions, please do not hesitate to communicate with the APUO. 
 
Support Staff (SSUO) Collective Bargaining
 
In June, we informed members that our support staff colleagues massively rejected the Central Administration’s final offer in a one-time vote conducted by the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development. 
 
On August 31, following a request from the SSUO, the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development issued a No Board Report putting our support staff colleagues in a legal strike position, and the Central Administration in a position to impose a lock-out as of September 17.
 
Last Friday, the SSUO and the Central Administration participated in their first negotiation meeting since the June final offer vote. According to an update sent by the SSUO this morning, the offer presented by the Central Administration was “virtually indistinguishable” from the final offer rejected by support staff in June. The two parties will meet again today. 
 
The APUO stands in solidarity with the SSUO and its members, and we wish them success in reaching a fair deal. We call on the Central Administration to respect the support staff members, as well as the decisive mandate with which the SSUO is bargaining.  
 
For a summary of the outstanding issues between the SSUO and the Central Administration, we invite you to read our June 8 bulletin

 
[1] Please see our December 2018 bulletin Student Evaluation of Teaching: the Kaplan Arbitration Ruling for more information about the limits of Student Evaluations of Teaching and the inequities they perpetuate. 

Scholar Strike

Dear members,
 
The APUO joins the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and other faculty associations across Ontario and the rest of Turtle Island who condemn institutional racism and police brutality, and who are participating in the Scholar Strike for racial justice on September 9 and 10. 
 
While APUO members are not in a position to legally strike, where possible, we encourage members to join the public digital teach-ins offered in the context of this action and to advertise the #ScholarStrike to students and colleagues. Please consult the programme schedule for more information. We also call on the Central Administration not to penalize campus workers and students who choose to participate in this important action. 
 
In the context of the #ScholarStrike, we also invite members to read the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee’s (EDIC) 2020 Report: Hiring and Retention of Black Faculty at the University of Ottawa: Recommendations for Change, and to discuss it with colleagues and students. The APUO fully supports the five recommendations it sets out. These recommendations constitute an important first step in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive university community, and we are fully committed to seeing them implemented. To this end, as we review our Collective Agreement in the coming months, we will be working to identify additional means to further advance the report’s objectives.
 
The APUO remains steadfast in its condemnation of the institutionalized and systemic racism present on our campus. We once again urge the Central Administration to implement the ten demands of the APUO BIPOC Caucus in response to the racial profiling, carding, and harassment of Black students on campus. The Central Administration’s delay in implementing these demands has, among other things, served to embolden some Protection Services Officers to promote the “Blue Lives Matter” campaign, thereby further poisoning the climate of our campus for Black, Indigenous and racialized students and workers. Our University community has a responsibility to reflect upon, and deconstruct, structures that uphold systemic racism and prevent our campus from being a safe and inclusive environment for Black, Indigenous, and racialized workers and students. We urge the Central Administration to break its silence by standing with the APUO in publicly condemning any and all actions that perpetuate anti-Black racism and all forms of racial discrimination. 

July 31 Bulletin

Dear members, 
 
As per the recently signed letter of understanding (LOU) COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery, an additional one-time lump sum of $1,000 should have been deposited in members’ Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER) account by July 31, 2020, to facilitate the acquisition of equipment and services necessary for preparing and delivering remote and online teaching in the 2020 Fall term. 
 
This email message serves as a friendly reminder that you may use this funding to hire a Research Assistant in accordance with the procedures set out in Articles 18 and 32 of the CUPE 2626 Collective Agreement and that this opportunity also applies to members conducting research during their academic leave. To this end, please note that the same procedures used to hire Research Assistants in any other circumstance apply when doing so within the context of the LOU COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery. We therefore encourage members to communicate with their respective academic units to inquire about the steps to follow to create a job posting for a Research Assistant position. 
 
Inter-union campaign against larger class sizes
 
Several APUO and APTPUO members have noted a significant increase in the enrollment numbers of their assigned courses for the Fall term. In response to the Central Administration’s decision to increase class sizes in tandem with the shift to the remote and online delivery of courses in the Fall term, the Inter-union Coalition of the University of Ottawa recently sent a letter to President Jacques Frémont outlining its concerns with this decision. You can view the letter here.
 
Under the terms of the APTPUO’s Collective Agreement, there is no provision regarding workload assignments that prevent significant increases in class sizes for our part-time colleagues. As contractual employees, part-time professors must contend with the stark choice of either accepting courses (often on short notice) with increased enrollments or forfeiting work. 

Update: COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery

Dear members,
 
Soon after signing the Letter of Understanding (LOU) COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery, the Central Administration and the APUO identified differences in how each party was interpreting Section 8 (Workload Reduction) of this document. As a result, the parties agreed to meet and, with the assistance again of Mediator William Kaplan, resolved these issues.

The APUO thanks Mediator Kaplan and the Central Administration for making themselves available and helping to resolve the issues. 

The purpose of this communication is to update you about the clarifications brought to the application of Section 8 of the LOU, and the possibility of using Professional Expenses Reimbursements (PER) funds to hire a research assistant to help with the preparation and delivery of distance or online courses.    

This LOU confirms, among other things, that teaching for the Fall 2020 term will be done remotely or online, with the exception of a few courses that necessitate in-person teaching. 

The deadline for Members to apply for a workload reduction using Section 8 of the LOU is July 31, 2020. 
  
Section 8 of the LOU (Workload Reduction)
 
As per Section 8 of the LOU:

If a Member does not consent to teaching remotely or online by reason of being unable to carry out their teaching workload, or a portion thereof, due to the exceptional circumstances, the Member shall inform their Dean in writing within twenty (20) working days (by July 31) following the effective date of this Letter of Understanding and may request that the Dean apply one (1) of the following four options:

a. Members can request that some or all of their courses for the Fall 2020 term be reassigned to a regular term in the next three academic years. Clarification: The fact that the LOU ends on April 29, 2021 does not invalidate this option. Members may request that some or all of their assigned courses be reassigned to a later term at any point within the next three academic years. To this end, we suggest clearly specifying to which future term(s) you would like the course(s) to be reassigned in your request to your Dean.
b. Members will be approved for a workload reduction as referred to in Article 30 of the Collective Agreementfor the Fall 2020 term, equivalent to 10% of their annual salary per three (3) credit course they were scheduled to teach in that semester. Clarification: A member may request a workload reduction for as many courses as are assigned in the Fall 2020 term (1 course = 10% workload reduction; 2 courses = 20% workload reduction; etc.).
c. Members may request and be approved for a leave of absence without pay, as referred to in Article 29.3 of the Collective Agreement, for the entire Fall 2020 term.  
d. Any other exceptional measure deemed suitable and feasible by both the Dean and the Member.  

For those electing for the above option ‘b’, some additional considerations to inform your decision include:

  • Salary: the first impact of option ‘b’ is a proportional reduction in annual salary. If you choose a 10% workload reduction (i.e., 1 course), your gross (prior to taxes and deductions) annual salary will be reduced by 10% for an entire year, from September 1, 2020, to August 31, 2021. Aside from the obvious impact on your net (take home) salary, you also should consider the impact on your pension.
  • Pension: As explained in article 30.4.2 of the APUO Collective Agreement, members who avail themselves of the course reduction option may choose to contribute to their pension on the basis of their regular salary and receive prorated credits for years of service. Alternatively, members may choose to contribute to their pension on the basis of their nominal salary and offset the difference in pension contribution for the workload reduction percentage for both the Employer and themselves, thereby reducing their net (take home) salary.
  • Academic leave: As stated in article 30.4.3(a) of the Collective Agreement, academic leave credits for a period of reduced workload shall be computed by the Dean, rounded to the nearest half (0.5) year. Members requesting one (1) or two (2) course reductions during the 2020 Fall term will still receive full academic leave credits. Your Dean should specify the exact number of academic leave credits you will gain in your reduced workload agreement. If you are unsure of the calculation, please feel free to contact the APUO
  • Progress-Thru-the-Ranks (PTR): As stated in article 30.4.3(b) of the Collective Agreement, each year of service during the reduced workload shall be considered as a portion of a year of university-level experience equal to the portion of a full workload. Given that the salary reduction partially overlaps over two (2) academic years, you should ask your Dean to specify the exact impact on your next two (2) PTR increases. Again, if you are unsure of the calculation, please feel free to contact the APUO.

We are also taking this opportunity to remind all APUO members that they should be comfortable requesting any of the four options listed above without fear of reprisal. Both pre-tenured and tenured members have a right to fair and equitable working conditions that accommodate the challenges with which one must contend. It is important to note that neither your colleagues nor representatives of the Employer (including Deans) need to be made aware of the individual and private circumstances surrounding your request. If Members have concerns regarding their request for a workload reduction, we encourage them to communicate with the APUO

Professional Expenses Reimbursement and Research Assistants

As per the LOU, members will receive an additional one-time lump sum of $1,000 to their Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER) account to facilitate the acquisition of equipment and services necessary for the preparation and delivery of online or remote teaching in the 2020 Fall term. This includes hiring a research assistant in accord with the procedures set out in  Article 18 and Article 32 of the CUPE 2626 Collective Agreement. This additional PER and the possibility of hiring a Research Assistant also applies to members conducting research during their academic leave.

Update: Letters of Understanding – COVID-19

Dear members,
 
We are pleased to inform you that on June 30, following an intensive day of mediation with the Central Administration, the parties agreed to two more letters of understanding (LOUs): COVID-19 Performance Assessment of Members and COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery.
 
Firstly, we must express our sincere gratitude to you, our Members, for your continued support and especially the support you provided during the negotiation of these LOUs. Our success is directly linked to your ongoing mobilization, your participation in the various surveys we sent over the last few weeks, and your vocal support of your Association.  
 
We also want to thank the Central Administration. Successful negotiations require work from both parties. The APUO will continue to work with the Central Administration to identify creative solutions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on members’ work and to preserve the quality of education. 
 
Here is a summary of the LOUs: 
 
COVID-19 Performance Assessment of Members
 
The Employer must consider information included by Members in their annual reports, contract renewal applications, promotion, tenure, and continuing appointment applications, and academic and professional leaves applications indicating how the exceptional circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic detrimentally impacted their teaching/professional activities, scholarly activities and/or academic/administrative service activities. “This information will not unreasonably affect the outcome of performance evaluations and career recommendations and decision processes under the collective agreement.” 
 
Members can view the LOU in full here
 
COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery
 
This LOU confirms that teaching for the Fall 2020 semester will be remote or online, except for individual courses that the University believes necessitate in-person teaching. With this in mind, this LOU:
 

  • ensures that the APUO will be consulted on any changes that may affect members’ working conditions before a partial or full return to in-person teaching;
  • protects Members’ academic freedom in choosing the most appropriate way of teaching remotely;
  • confirms that Members will be provided with support from the Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS) and from faculty personnel;
  • allows Members who start to deliver a distance learning course to decide if they continue to deliver it exclusively in a distance learning mode even if the Central Administration decides that students may return to campus;
  • protects members’ ownership (copyright) of all materials developed for remote or online teaching;
  • provides Members with options; if a Member believes that they are unable to carry out their teaching workload, or a portion thereof, due to the exceptional circumstances, the Member shall inform their Dean in writing twenty (20) working days following the effective date of this Letter of Understanding and may request that the Dean apply one (1) of the following:  
    • the Member’s assigned 2020 Fall term course credits will be reassigned in a regular term within the next three (3) academic years; or
    • the Member will be approved for a workload reduction, as referred to in Article 30 of the Collective Agreement, for the entire 2020 Fall term equivalent to 10% per three (3) credit course they were scheduled to teach in the 2020 Fall term; or
    • the Member will be approved for a leave of absence without pay, as referred to in Article 29.3 of the Collective Agreement, for the entire 2020 Fall term; or
    • any other exceptional measure deemed suitable and feasible by both the Dean and the Member.
  • increases Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER) funds with a one-time lump sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000) to facilitate the acquisition of equipment and services necessary for course development and delivery;
  • provides Members with the option of requesting a Canada Revenue Agency T2200 Form to support claims regarding expenses incurred to fulfill their duties remotely. 

 
Members can view the LOU in full here
 
These, and the LOUs that we have previously signed, can be renewed should the exceptional circumstances surrounding the pandemic continue beyond the Fall semester. Should you have any questions regarding these LOUs, or require assistance in exercising your rights, do not hesitate to contact the APUO. In particular, should you believe that you are unable to carry out part or all of your teaching workload, we strongly suggest reaching out to the APUO.

Results: SSUO Vote on Final Offer

Dear members,
 
Last week, we informed you that members of the Support Staff of the University of Ottawa (SSUO) were going to vote on a final offer following a request made by the Central Administration to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. This request was intended to pressure the SSUO and to impose on its members an offer that the APUO viewed as unfair and inequitable.
 
The vote was held from June 22 to the 26. The SSUO shared the results of the vote on Friday evening. We wish to inform you that the final offer was rejected by 80% of the more than one thousand SSUO members who voted. 
 
This decisive vote gives a clear mandate to the SSUO and the Central Administration to resume negotiations and reach a fair and equitable agreement for the support staff. 
 
We urge the Central Administration to resume negotiations with the SSUO and respect our support staff, without whom our University’s mandate would not be achievable. 
 
In addition, we congratulate the SSUO and their members for the impressive mobilization that led to this victory, and we applaud their commitment to ensuring working conditions that make possible the delivery of a high-quality education.  

Results from the Survey on Work-related Stress in the Context of Confinement

Dear members,
 
We thank those of you who participated in our survey on work-related stress in the context of confinement, which was live from May 12 to 20. Nearly 60 percent of members participated and shared the challenges they face in the exceptional circumstances brought on by the pandemic. 
 
The data from the survey results will support our efforts to conclude the two letters of understanding, COVID-19 Performance Assessment of Members and COVID-19 Course Development and Delivery which we summarized in a communication sent on May 29. We seize this opportunity to inform you that due to difficult negotiations with the Central Administration, a day of mediation is scheduled for June 30.
 
A report presenting a summary of the results of the survey on work-related stress in the context of confinement is available at the following link.

Solidarity with Support Staff

Dear members,
 
On June 8, we sent out a call for solidarity with support staff members who are trying to negotiate a new collective agreement. As we mentioned, the Central Administration has asked the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development to hold a final offer vote, a request that in the last twenty years has only been made by three other universities. Last week, we learned that the vote will take place from Monday, June 22 to Friday, June 26.
 
Once again, we call on our members to join the APUO Executive Committee in expressing solidarity with SSUO members. As expressed to President Frémont in our most recent letter of support for the SSUO, members of the support staff are colleagues with whom we work every day. We all know how excellent, professional, dedicated, and essential they are in the execution of our University’s mandate. Their work should be recognized with fair compensation, comprehensive benefits, and great respect. We encourage APUO members to express their support and solidarity for the SSUO by tweeting at @psuossuo, by sending email messages to SSUO members they know, and by bringing back the #Respect hashtag used during our last round of collective bargaining on twitter.
 
The outcome of this vote and the collective agreement that may ensue could have a significant impact on our own collective bargaining next year. We support the SSUO’s recommendation to its members to vote no to the final offer so that it has the opportunity to resume a more collegial bargaining process with the Central Administration, and to reach a fair and equitable agreement for its members.

Call for Solidarity with Support Staff

Dear members,
 
This bulletin is a follow up to last week’s update about the negotiations between the Central Administration and the Support Staff of the University of Ottawa (SSUO). The APUO has strongly expressed its disagreement with the Central Administration’s decision to request a final offer vote with the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves should not be used to push SSUO members to accept an unfair deal. 
 
The outcomes of this negotiation may prove to be precedent-setting and have severe ripple effects on the working conditions of the other bargaining units. With this in mind, we want to share with you the issues that have halted negotiations between the SSUO and the Central Administration, and their potential implications for the APUO’s next round of collective bargaining starting in January 2021.
 
Wage increases capped at 1 percent
 
Following exchanges between the two parties, in May 2019, the Central Administration proposed a wage increase offer of 1.25 percent, 2 percent, and 2 percent over three years. This is funding for which the Central Administration had budgeted and could afford. However, once Bill 124 (the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act[1]) was tabled at Queen’s Park in June, the Central Administration reduced its monetary offer to an annual 1 percent wage increase for three years. Bearing in mind that the cost of living increases by approximately 2 percent each year, the revised offer of the Central Administration represents a wage loss for SSUO members. 
 
Contrary to the widely held view that the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act prevents the Central Administration from proposing a monetary offer that would increase SSUO wages by more than 1 percent, the legislation contains provisions allowing public sector employers to request exemptions from the 1 percent wage increase cap. The Act’s Explanatory Note reads:
 
“The Minister is given the authority to make regulations specifying that the Act does not apply to an employer, or to employees, or  classes of employees. The Minister may also exempt a collective agreement from the application of the Act by regulations”.[2]  
 
To date, the Central Administration has refused to explore the possibility of applying for an exemption for the SSUO bargaining unit, and has declined other SSUO proposals that could offset potential lost wages under the legislation. It appears The Central Administration is emboldened by this new legislation to reject compromises that could deliver a fair deal for SSUO members. 
 
As we look ahead to our own collective bargaining in the coming months, we find the Central Administration’s approach very concerning.
 
Health Benefits
 
SSUO members have a stronger overall health benefits package than APUO members. Indeed, they are the only unionized University of Ottawa employees to have maintained 100 percent reimbursement coverage for medications.  The Central Administration now wants to bring these SSUO benefits in line with those of other bargaining units by reducing them to 80 percent of medication costs while failing to acknowledge other employment variables with which SSUO members must contend, including lower wages. 
 
Before every round of collective bargaining, the APUO and the Central Administration jointly commission a study to analyze our benefits and measure them with a comparator group of universities (Carleton, McMaster, Queen’s, Guelph, Waterloo, Western, Windsor, and York). Prior to 2016, APUO members had 100% health and dental coverage. Throughout every round of collective bargaining since then the APUO has consistently attempted to regain this level of coverage.  In our 2018 round of collective bargaining the University of Ottawa ranked:

  • Between 7th & 8th for Health Care Coverage as a whole (pre-retirement, including vision, hearing, and dental);
  • Below 8th rank for Dental Coverage on its own;
  • Below 8th rank for Post-retirement Health Care; and 
  • Below 8th rank for All Health Care (pre- and post-retirement) 

It is worth noting that the ‘below 8th rank’ reflects the finding that the benefits received by APUO members are so far below those offered at the universities comprising the comparator group that the University of Ottawa fell out of the 1 to 8 ranking margins established by the study. 
 
Our University’s benefits ranking speaks for itself. Throughout the 2019 APUO Listening Tour, our Strategic Thinking and Action Forums (STAF), and in our Virtual Coffee Hours held earlier this spring, members have consistently expressed concerns about our limited health and dental benefits. Should the SSUO lose their current health benefits as a result of the Central Administration’s request for a final offer vote, it will become very difficult for the APUO and other bargaining units at the University of Ottawa to successfully negotiate improvements to health benefits. 
 
In keeping with the Central Administration’s identification of health and wellness as a top priority[3] for our institution, negotiating health benefits should be both understood and viewed as an opportunity to support the improved overall health and wellness of our community rather than a race to the bottom. 
 
Retirement allocation
 
Included among the Central Administration’s proposals to the SSUO is an effort to eliminate the retirement allowance for all new hires. This would in effect introduce an “orphan clause”[4] creating two classes of SSUO members, and further undermines the SSUO’s bargaining strength in future negotiations. In 2013, the Central Administration tried to eliminate the retirement allowance for new APUO members, a proposition that was rejected. It seems highly plausible that, were the SSUO to lose this benefit, the Central Administration will likely attempt to also roll back this benefit for other bargaining units, including our own. 
 
Maternity/parental leave
 
In 2017, the federal government introduced changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) legislation, bringing down the waiting period to receive EI premiums from two weeks to one week. Like APUO members, SSUO members receive a salary top-up for maternity, pregnancy, or parental/adoption leaves. The shortened wait time to receive EI premiums means that the Central Administration saves 55 percent of the salary of a member on maternity, pregnancy, or parental/adoption leave for one additional week. However, the Central Administration is refusing to reinvest these savings to pay SSUO members up to 100 percent of their salaries, or to offer any other benefits when they take these leaves. For members opting to take an extended parental or adoption leave, the Central Administration is looking to reduce its Supplementary Employment Benefits by 21.7 percent. 
 
It is widely recognized and acknowledged that there are short and long-term inequities for those who take maternity, pregnancy, or parental/adoption leaves. Many women must contend with financial setbacks that have lasting impacts when they relinquish a percentage of their salary to take maternal or parental leave. Furthermore, many women remain primary caregivers beyond the period of their leave, often at the expense of their careers and, this too comes at a financial cost. 
 
Maintaining a competitive maternal/parental leave for University employees is a matter of gender equity. We are troubled to see the Central Administration attempt to claw back a benefit designed to provide more equitable working conditions for employees with familial responsibilities. It would set a very damaging precedent that would directly impact collective bargaining with other unions on campus were the Central Administration to succeed in its efforts to claw back advances aimed at fostering greater gender equity.  
 
Filling vacancies 
 
In September 2019, Jacques Frémont sent a communication to our University community about a $91.8 million-dollar surplus of revenues over expenses. In his message, he identified “delays in hiring” as a contributing factor to this financial surplus.[5]  According to an SSUO calculation made by multiplying the number of positions left vacant for more than 90 days by their average salary ($55 000) the University has saved over $3.9 million in SSUO wages in the last year.[6] To put this number in perspective, the total salary mass of SSUO members is around $92 million. 
 
In contrast to the Central Administration who seemingly views postponing the filling of vacant SSUO positions as an opportunity for financial savings, the SSUO and the APUO view these vacant posts as services non-rendered to our community. These vacancies download additional workload burdens onto other SSUO members and APUO members alike. As our members are all too well aware, the APUO has long been advocating for SSUO vacancies to be rapidly filled. 
 
The Central Administration’s refusal to commit to filling SSUO vacancies at the bargaining table may be a sign that the ongoing pressures felt by both SSUO and APUO members regarding our workloads and working conditions are likely to persist. The myriad negative consequences flowing from the failure to fill SSUO vacancies is a frequent and repeated concern raised by APUO members. 
 
We call on our members to join the APUO Executive Committee in expressing solidarity with SSUO members. As expressed to President Frémont in our most recent letter of support for the SSUO, members of the support staff are colleagues with whom we work every day. We all know how excellent, professional, dedicated, and essential they are in the execution of our University’s mandate. Their work should be recognized with fair compensation, comprehensive benefits, and great respect. As SSUO members await a date for a vote on the Central Administration’s final offer, we encourage APUO members to express their support and solidarity for the SSUO by tweeting at @psuossuo, by sending email messages to SSUO members they know, and by bringing back the #Respect hashtag used during our last round of collective bargaining on twitter.

 
[1] The Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act is known for imposing a wage and compensation limit for public sector employees. It is currently being contested before the courts through various Charter challenges.
[2] Ontario Legislative Assembly, Bill 124, the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, Explanatory Note.
[4] An “orphan clause” is a clause that would offer less advantageous work conditions to emplyees based on their date of hire.   
[5] The Office of the President communicated the Financial Results 2018-2019 in an email sent to the University Community on September 30, 2019: https://secure.campaigner.com/csb/Public/show/ch3x-1dust8–mpdba-5l2vffp9
[6] The analysis of the February 2020 Quarterly Report of vacant positions for more than 90 days can be found on slide 37 of the presentation delivered by the SSUO Executive Committee on May 26, 2020. The presentation is available at the following link: http://www.psuo-ssuo.ca/fr-CA/negotiations.aspx  

Solidarity with Black Communities

The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) expresses its solidarity with Black communities world-wide. The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet following police intervention in Toronto have sparked outrage rooted in centuries of anti-black racism, colonialism, and police brutality. 
 
We call on our provincial and federal governments to recognize that the post-secondary education sector can provide greater opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and racialized people, and to make new investments in our universities and colleges that are specifically aimed at realizing this objective. A universally accessible post-secondary education system will improve the representation of Black, Indigenous, and racialized students, professors, librarians, support staff, and senior administrators in our institutions, enhance the educational experience of all, and set the stage for more robust research and innovation. The colonial foundation of our institutions combined with the constant rise of tuition fees prevents more Black, Indigenous, and racialized people from participating and enriching academia, and by extension the discourses in our public spheres.  
 
The APUO calls once again on the Central Administration of the University to implement the ten demands of the APUO Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) caucus listed in a June 16, 2019 letter. Almost a full year has gone by with very little progress being made on achieving these demands. To become a safer space for Black, Indigenous, and racialized students and workers, our University must acknowledge and address the systemic racism present on its campus, and implement the demands put forth by those who have been affected by this form of discrimination. 
 
By way of this statement, the APUO renews its commitment to tackling anti-Black racism and racism targeted towards Indigenous and racialized communities.