Compared to the turbulence we faced together in bargaining last year, this winter feels relatively quiet. The calm, however, conceals much of the full picture: that we are once more headed into bargaining next year, and our resolve will be tested again — likely more than ever before. We are staring down a mountain, one we cannot climb without a struggle.
With the selection of a Lead Negotiator, the AASUA is now in the process of forming a bargaining team. We are laying the foundation for the year ahead, but this preparation will be meaningless unless we hear from you: what do you want to see us push for in this round of bargaining, and for what conditions are you prepared to fight?
Indeed, we know it will be a fight: as former Lead Negotiator, I have seen firsthand how secret government mandates and tactics like anchor bargaining make it so that no matter how coherent our proposal is, we can’t reach the deal we need without showing the employer we are serious about our demands.
Already this year, our colleagues across Canada have shown us a fair deal is not an easy feat but can be won through measured resolve. For example, at Memorial University, academic staff took a courageous stand for collegial governance and spoke out against precarity by heading to the picket lines, succeeding in a deal on Feb. 9. Similarly, Cape Breton University Faculty Association ratified an agreement on Feb. 7 following a 12-day strike.
Here at the University of Alberta, we’ve been fighting multiple battles, including taking on the toll of massive budget cuts and the harm caused by academic restructuring. We don’t have to fight these battles alone — together, we can continue to protect the quality education we provide students, and the scholarly activities that make our university a world-class institution.
When your constituency directors reach out to you to form bargaining priorities in the coming months, we want to hear from you. We want to hear your anger, your frustration, and most importantly, your vision for how we can make this university better for all of us.
I urge you to add your voice as we set up the building blocks for this next round of bargaining, because an engaged membership at every step of this journey is crucial for our success. As we keep up the fight to defend high-quality education at the U of A, it has never mattered more.