Members of the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) faced huge challenges in this round of bargaining. The university administration was demanding serious concessions on many issues, including pensions, workload, and core faculty rights. The administration’s inability to provide essential data, delays in bargaining, and the employer’s initial refusal to agree to mediation dates layered procedural obstacles on top of the administration’s unprecedented bargaining demands.
Undeterred from the start, in early summer LUFA began to prepare its members to protect their existing rights and push forward with their own set of priorities.
LUFA members’ primary demands were that Laurentian:
- re-invest in research and the classroom, including a fair faculty workload;
- increase the openness and transparency with which the university operates; and
- protect and promote a positive, enriching learning environment for the students.
Despite the best efforts of the LUFA bargaining team and four days of mediation, the employer declared an impasse on the evening of September 28th, giving faculty little choice but to strike.
During the eight-day strike, faculty members marched picket lines, encouraged by incredibly strong support from colleagues on campus, members of the Sudbury community, and faculty nationwide. An online campaign organized by OCUFA garnered letters from over 1,000 individuals. The staff union at Laurentian (LUSU) was the first local union to organize a solidarity picket on day two. Laurentian’s students were unwavering, walking the line with their professors every day, bringing food and art projects, and organizing a solidarity rally.
Under the terms of the settlement, LUFA has strengthened collegial governance with a clarified role in the process and selection of senior administrators. Academic freedom will be enhanced with the recognition of faculty expertise, and a commitment to openness and transparency from the university administration. An increased number of sessional faculty will now have seniority recognized in the per course rate they receive, and master lecturers will experience a workload improvement and, if they have a PhD, a new salary model. Finally, LUFA members will receive annual salary increases inline with what faculty receive at other, comparable universities.
LUFA members voted 98% in favour of the agreement, and the Laurentian Board of Governors unanimously ratified the deal.
OCUFA extends its congratulations to the members of LUFA for staying strong and protecting a quality education for your students.