Dear Members

Many of us are concerned about how the Omicron variant of COVID is likely to affect the safety of staff and students on campus, especially after return to in-person teaching (currently contemplated for January 24, but we are promised an update on January 18). This is a serious issue, and I will continue to engage with senior administration to press for all relevant safety measures, including ventilation improvements and support for remote teaching, research, and other work. I am also asking them to share details about how decisions will be made to extend remote teaching if the Omicron variant does not subside.

I’ve mentioned to you before about the strike under way at Concordia University of Edmonton, which began on January 4 and is still under way. This is the first time that a university administration has driven an academic union in Alberta to a strike. AASUA stands in solidarity with the faculty at Concordia. What they are asking for is very similar to what we are asking for in our own bargaining. You can see plenty of pictures of our members at the picket line on our Twitter account, @TheAASUA. Although they have persuaded the employer back to the table, the strike continues. You can join them daily on 112 Ave from 9:00 to 11:00 every morning and 1:00 to 3:00 every afternoon.

A big part of the power of their strike is the support of their students. Our own students are noticing the strike at this university, and speculating on what it means for UofA. If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend the recent editorial in the Gateway by Emily Williams: “For faculty associations, the right to strike is a powerful tool”.

Meanwhile, we resume bargaining, with sessions scheduled this Friday and next Friday (January 14, 21 and 27). The next item to discuss at the table is compensation, where the employer’s slash-and-burn proposals are quite far from our proposal for a moderate cost-of-living increase. Login to see the opening proposals on our bargaining page. We will share any developments in bargaining through our Bargaining Bulletins.

Tim Mills

AASUA President