Dear Members

I know there have been lots of messages coming in and it is hard to keep up. This is not uncommon as we get close to mediation. We’re seeing a bit more of the University’s strategy, which seems perplexing and discouraging.

Here’s a summary of where we are:

The university has posted on its web page that it is not open to negotiating a work stoppage protocol agreement with us that would continue access to all your university accounts. In the event of a strike, the AASUA would prefer to allow our members to do unpaid research to ensure that students, grants, and our and the university’s reputation are not negatively impacted. We know some of you would like to do some things on campus and online here and there to reduce the damage to our careers and the university’s reputation if a strike were to occur. The Employer’s web page basically is stating they will move to lock us out, cutting off their nose to spite their face, to drive at their target of four more years of salary freeze (on top of two year from our previous contract). This is shocking!

This is shocking because 

  • The public sector labour settlements we are seeing in this province in the past few months are coming in around +2.5 to +3.5% (with all benefits included) for the Alberta Union of Public Employees, The United Nurses of Alberta, Concordia University and now this week, Mount Royal University in Calgary (who this week vote on a deal that amounts to 3.25% with no concessions on any benefits whatsoever and some benefit improvements amounting to an additional 1%).
  • The University of Alberta posted at 50 million dollar budget surplus last year, and our salary increase proposals would balance that over two years. (This can be verified here on page 41).
  • Inflation in Canada is just shy of 5% annually and we expect the Government of Alberta to be boasting a balanced budget next week, with their coffers flush with royalties coming from high oil prices.

It is no longer possible to imagine that the University is prioritizing the morale or mental health of its academic staff who have toiled to keep our system running through this pandemic. The veil is off now, and we see it for what it is. This is a malicious effort to intimidate us and risks being a turning point in how all the University staff see their employer for many years to come. 

The attrition in our ranks of excellent researchers leaving the university is now a dangerous avalanche that will compromise our reputation in research globally. Students are joining us in speaking out about this short-sighted union breaking posture. Setting salaries far below our comparator universities will erode education and research quality long term.

It simply is best for AASUA and the Employer to be in step with salaries across the country and province. Our mediation position is reasonable, affordable, and completely in step with other public and post-secondary institutions. Let’s get a deal done and save the semester.

Tim Mills

AASUA President