When a work stoppage looms, a common employer tactic is for managers to try to undercut union support during one-on-one and small-group conversations.
Here are some things your boss might say and how you might respond.
Nobody wants a strike
Strikes and lockouts occur when employers and workers can't come to a mutually acceptable deal.
AUFA has offered a two-year wage freeze, small contract improvements, and additional negotiations on future wages. This is the same deal that tens of thousands of other public servants have gotten—including AU’s support staff.
AU is rejecting this pattern settlement. In effect, AU is saying it wants a strike more than it wants to give AUFA members a fair deal.
A strike will hurt students
If AU forces AUFA to strike, students will experience disruption in their studies and in administrative functions. A strike is also entirely avoidable if AU agrees to a fair deal.
Everybody loses during a strike
A strike entails costs to both AUFA members (foregone salary) and AU (work disruption). But not striking also entails costs, such as a wage freeze with no offsetting contract improvements. The costs of not striking are borne solely by AUFA members.
But we’re like a family
Your employer is not your family. AU hires you because they need work completed. AU is happy to watch your wages stagnate and to crank up your workload. As we saw in 2013, senior administrators will also happily lay you off when they bankrupt AU. Does that sound like a family?
We can't afford to pay you more
In 2018/19, AU recorded a surplus of more than $9 million. This was AU’s fifth surplus in six years. Enrollments were up more than 12% last year and are up again this year. AU can certainly afford to pay higher salaries. And AUFA is prepared to accept a wage freeze if AU will provide some offsetting contract gains. So this dispute isn't about what AU can afford to pay. It is about AU wanting to freeze your pay and give you nothing in return.
AUFA will force you to strike
AUFA is you and your coworkers. AUFA is also a democracy. A strike can only occur if a majority of voters vote in favour of a strike.
A strike is also a last resort—something to be considered only after months of negotiations and mediation prove fruitless.
In this way, a strike is something AU is forcing on AUFA members.
The union can’t win a strike
Unions win new collective agreements when the employer realizes the cost of a work stoppage is greater than the cost of a new contract.
AU is highly dependent on tuition revenue (~50%). Even the threat of a strike is likely to cause enrollments to plummet. An actual strike will severely damage AU’s revenues and reputation.
It would be a shame if AUFA was forced to threaten or to actually strike. But sometimes employers need to learn things the hard way.
Bob Barnetson, Chair
AUFA Work Stoppage Planning Committee