AUFA Membership Approves Creation of Lockout / Strike Fund

AUFA membership have voted with an 87% majority to create a Lockout / Strike Fund, in response legislation changes which returns the right to strike for faculty associations. The motion came from recommendations which were presented to the AUFA membership on behalf of the Ad-hoc Lockout / Strike committee.

The following changes were approved:

  • A transfer of $200,000 from AUFA's operating surplus into a strike fund
  • A dues increase of 0.2% which will go exclusively to the strike fund

This fund will be used for strike pay, insurance, and health benefits during any work stoppage. As well, they will be used to pay into the CAUT Defense Fund, which functions as work stoppage insurance for faculty associations.

These changes leave AUFA well-prepared for future negotiations with Athabasca University, ensuring it has the organizational and financial means to negotiate the best possible contract for its members.

AUFA Respects Vegreville

AUFA strongly supports the Respect Vegreville campaign and calls upon Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to stop plans to relocate the Vegreville Immigration Centre to Edmonton. This closure will affect roughly 280 jobs and devastate the town. Rural communities have been hit especially hard during the economic downturn in Alberta, and it is vital that there be stable public sector employment in rural Alberta.

The Respect Vegreville campaign is a social media campaign organized by the Public Service Alliance of Canada to keep the Immigration Centre in Vegreville and save rural jobs. They're asking supporters to write to Immigration Minister Ahemd Hussen, print and share the campaign poster, and share their support on social media.

Many AUFA members and executive officers are located in the town of Athabasca, and we stand by our rural community. Pictured left to right are Treasurer James Haubrich, Executive Director Nick Driedger, Vice-President Rachel Conroy, and Secretary Dave Powell, all proud Athabasca residents. 

AUFA Statement on Racism and Islamophobia

The 29 January 2017 attack at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec, which left six Muslim worshippers dead and another nineteen wounded, was a chilling reminder that Canada is not immune to violence inspired by blind hatred. The Athabasca University Faculty Association (AUFA) joins with citizens across the country in unconditionally condemning any and all actions founded on racism and xenophobia, of which Islamophobia is but one expression. We equally condemn speech that encourages such actions, whether directly or indirectly, by implying that racist attitudes are in some way reasonable or acceptable. We in Canada are rightly proud of our embrace of multiculturalism, and we must together assume the responsibility for safeguarding it, especially at a time when powerful political currents have contributed to a resurgence of racist sentiments worldwide.

AUFA reiterates its unalloyed commitment to human rights and respect for human dignity, to anti-racism, and to the pursuit of equity and social justice. We extend our profound sympathies to those whose lives have been irrevocably marred by this tragedy and express our grief that such an act of inhumanity is still possible in this country. In recognition of the implications of this attack, we have moved as an association to donate $5,000 to the National Council of Canadian Muslims in support of their efforts to protect the civil liberties of Canadian Muslims and provide needed aid to the victims’ families, to combat racism and Islamophobia, and to foster public education.

AUFA Statement on President Trump's Executive Order

The Athabasca University Faculty Association (AUFA) is deeply concerned by the recent Executive Order by the United States President that restricts the ability of students, faculty, staff, and other members of the international academic community from certain countries from being able to enter or return to the United States. While we recognize that national security is important, this Executive Order is contrary to the values we hold dear as members of an international academic community at Athabasca University. The AUFA community, like that in all universities from across Canada and the United States, is intellectually enriched by the scholarly work by faculty and students from around the world, including the affected countries.  AUFA believes it is imperative that the United States continues to welcome the best students, scholars, researchers, and instructors, of all backgrounds and nationalities. Further, the intellectual health of an academic community must be protected from discourses of racism, and from regulations that restrict the movement of people. It is incumbent upon the academic community to protect the academic freedom of scholars, and therefore AUFA strongly condemns recent Executive Orders enacted by President Trump. AUFA is committed to assisting any of our members impacted by these actions.

Terms and Conditions Bargaining Concluded

The 2016 Terms and Conditions negotiations are now complete, and a Memorandum of Agreement will be prepared shortly and presented at a special meeting for the membership. The changes made are smaller ones as the AUFA team was unwilling to give concessions, and the Board team was unable to make any language changes that had even potential financial impact. 

The teams met twice, on December 12th and January 24th for half-day sessions. The Board team's behaviour was a complete change from the past several years as they were professional, bargained in good faith, and came ready to negotiate. Although bargaining is an adversarial process, it can be done professionally and should always be done with the intention of reaching a deal. This is a major change from past practice, and was conducive to fair and open negotiations. 

The following language was agreed to:

  • Additional data in AUFA office reports from HR
  • Informal grievances must specify the article violated
  • Various language changes (ministry name, define calendar year as payroll year)
  • Term sick leaves are now prorated rather than calculated from a formula - total sick days remain unchanged
  • Creation of a resume-upload portal on the new HR site sorted by location - this language is pending final sign off and will not be in the collective agreement

The AUFA team was David Powell (chair), Nick Driedger (executive director), Rachel Conroy, Pamela Holway, Rhiannon Bury, and Eric Strikwerda. The Board team was Glen Doyle (chair), Kayleigh Dixon, Donna Romyn, and Paulette Patry.  

The AUFA team would like to thank the AUFA membership and its executive for their support. 

Salaries and Benefits Bargaining Arbitration Delayed until April

Salaries and Benefits negotiations reached impasse in March of 2016, the next step being final offer selection arbitration. An arbitrator was selected for a date of November 2016. However, at the Board team’s request the arbitration has now been delayed until April 2017, as the Board team submitted a change to merit pay which was not brought forward during negotiations.