Dear colleagues, 

Today, AASUA is launching our annual Fair Employment Week campaign (Oct. 16-20) which we run in conjunction with the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) to raise awareness about the precarious labour conditions many academic staff face. 

This campaign is always important, but this year it matters more than ever. The Employer’s recently-released strategic plan aims to bring in 16,000 more students by 2030, but who will teach them? Our contract Academic Teaching Staff (ATS) already teach half of all U of A courses. A plan to grow student enrollment is misguided without a commitment to job security for these valuable educators. Secure, ongoing employment for all who teach is the best way to ensure a high-quality learning environment for our students.

That’s why our Fair Employment Week Committee wants to share the message that we’re growing the wrong way. Our Temporary Librarians, Administrative and Professional Officers (TLAPOs) often don’t know whether they will have their jobs next year. Our Trust Research Academic Staff (TRAS) help make the U of A a top research institution, but they lack job security. 

We are in a bargaining year; this Winter we will have the opportunity to make meaningful change to our working conditions. But we know this change won’t come easily. Taking these actions now will only make our position stronger come the new year. 

I especially encourage those of us who are not precarious to complete some of the actions below to ensure this campaign’s success. It’s critical that we step up and help our colleagues. Unfair employment is threatening our university’s high-quality education, but together we can make a difference.  

Here is what you can do to help:

  1. Help us pressure President Bill Flanagan and Board of Governors Chair Kate Chisholm to take seriously the goal of fair employment by participating in our letter campaign
  2. Use our speaking points and slides to talk to your students about how labour conditions on our campus impact them.
  3. Encourage your students and those in your circle who care about the University of Alberta’s world-class education to take action through our letter campaign.
  4. Visit the information tables set up from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. three days this week to learn more about precarious employment at the U of A and to pick up an AASUA member button! On Monday and Thursday we will be tabling between HUB Mall and the Humanities pedway, and on Tuesday we will be tabling in SUB. 
  5. Follow AASUA on Twitter/XInstagram, and Facebook, and share our posts to help amplify our message. 
  6. Anonymously share your stories of how precarity impacts you and your students.

Together, we won’t let unfair employment remain invisible and unaddressed. Let’s show our collective power by using our voices to make it fair and in doing so, protect the future of our university.

Gordon Swaters
AASUA President