Urgent Message on bargaining impasse and potential work stoppage for faculty and librarians at the University of St. Michael’s College

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The following message is an urgent call for assistance from Scott Prudham, President of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA).

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to alert you concerning the breakdown in negotiations for a first contract for faculty and librarians at the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC), a certified unit of the University of Toronto Faculty Association.

After approximately nine months of bargaining, in the face of an impending provincial wage freeze, and with a legal strike/lockout deadline of October 8 looming, the employer responded to the union’s comprehensive offer to settle by abruptly walking away from the table with no commitment to return. We are now preparing for a possible work stoppage and are calling on colleagues to help us in this fight.

The core issues outstanding are almost entirely non-monetary and concern the basic and fundamental principles that define a university, namely, academic freedom, tenure for faculty and permanent status for librarians, and collegial and shared governance. To give you a taste of the employer’s position on these issues, one section of their proposal on exigency and program redundancy reads:

“The process and criteria used for identifying individuals to be declared redundant, once either a financial exigency is declared or a program redundancy decision has been made, are the sole prerogative of the Dean.”

I am not sure how much more you need to know than that.

We have taken a strike vote and the members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if it becomes necessary. But we are also committed to negotiating a fair settlement and thereby avoiding a work stoppage if at all possible.

We are asking for help by getting the word out and by putting pressure on the USMC Administration to return to the table immediately, recognize the core principles that underpin collegial governance and academic excellence in the university, and negotiate a fair first contract that respects our colleagues.

You may write to USMC President Anne Anderson at usmc.presidentsoffice@utoronto.ca. Please also cc. UTFA in your correspondence at faculty@utfa.org.

Thank you,

Scott Prudham
Professor, University of Toronto
President, University of Toronto Faculty Association

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