Labour Relations: A poor state at Canadian Universities

Labour relations are in a poor state at Canadian Universities and we are not immune here at the UofS.

In July, some 3,000 contract faculty and graduate teaching and research assistants at York University were legislated back to work after 143 days on the picket line (the longest strike in the post-secondary sector in Canadian history).

Just last week, academic members of the University of Regina Faculty Association voted 87% in favour of a strike mandate, the faculty union at St. Mary’s University voted 80% in favour of a strike, and Mount St. Vincent University Faculty Union members voted 90% in favour of a strike. Added to that, the Faculty Association at Western University had a strike date set for November 9 if a settlement was not reached with administration there. (A tentative agreement was reached late on November 8.)

At our University, a new three-year agreement for Resident Doctors of Saskatchewan was reached in September 2018 to replace one that expired on December 31, 2015. To aid in reaching a first Collective Agreement, UGPW (Union of Graduate and Postdoctoral Workers at the UofS), a local of PSAC (Public Service Alliance of Canada), has gone through conciliation and remaining issues have been referred to interest arbitration. CUPE 1975 members voted in favour of strike action if an agreed-upon settlement cannot be reached in their negotiations with university administration and USFA negotiations continue at a sluggish pace after a year and a half without a contract.

The USFA’s contract expired June 30, 2017. Since we started bargaining, we have had 32 meetings with the Employer. We are cautiously optimistic that we will reach a negotiated settlement, but the push to maximize management rights remains one significant sticking point.