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Ontario faculty sound alarm over equity implications of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the most vulnerable

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OCUFA’s 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals are deeply concerned about the equity implications of the COVID-19 crisis on Ontario’s health care system and economy, and the adverse impacts both will have on the most marginalized in our society.

While it may be difficult to remember life before COVID-19, it is important to recall the state of Ontario’s economic and health care systems before the pandemic. We must compare the devastating effects of the pandemic with where we were before it began.

Ontario has the lowest public service spending per capita in all of Canada, including the lowest levels of funding per person for health care. It also has the lowest per-student funding levels and the most students per faculty member in the country. In addition, increasing numbers of Ontario campus workers are in precarious jobs. In fact, over 50 per cent of undergraduate courses are taught by contract faculty, many of whom lack job security, fair pay, and benefits. And in Ontario, like much of Canada, precarious employment, housing insecurity, and limited access to health care are rampant and most adversely impact those on the margins: women, racialized and Indigenous persons, people with disabilities, and migrants.

While the current economic crisis was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been in the making for a long time. Many workers have been left with a difficult choice: go to work and risk illness, or follow public health guidelines and stay home. As a result, being able to pay rent and put food on the table has become a struggle. This experience is amplified for precarious workers who have no paid sick leave, and many of whom live paycheque-to-paycheque. In effect, many workers do not have the option to stay home or participate in social distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus. Without sufficient economic support, these workers are forced to work, even when that choice runs counter to public health advice.

Academic staff in Ontario believe that in a public health crisis the government should put the health of all individuals, regardless of their income level, ahead of economic considerations. The government’s response to this crisis must ensure short and long-term support for Ontarians, particularly the most vulnerable. Now is not the time for half-measures, it is the time for strong economic investment in families, communities, and public institutions.

Faculty members and academic librarians across Ontario have stepped up to play their part in “flattening the curve,” through supporting social distancing measures and moving to remote teaching. For many faculty members, the cancellation of classes and the immediate move to online platforms have led to unprecedented workload and anxiety levels.

Similar to most other workplaces, universities and colleges have been severely impacted by the global pandemic and resulting economic crisis. With the closure of campuses, and social isolation and anxiety resulting from social distancing measures for students, faculty are having to multiply their efforts to ensure that their students are supported emotionally and academically during this chaotic time. 

Although academic institutions across Canada cancelled in-person classes, many of Ontario’s campus libraries remained open. On some campuses, academic librarians and library staff are expected to jeopardize their health and well-being by coming into work. 

Precarious workers, who make up over 50 per cent of the campus workforce in Ontario, are disproportionately impacted. Contract faculty on most campuses are not being compensated for the additional time and energy they are spending to ensure that their courses are properly wrapped up. They are also facing growing levels of insecurity as universities and colleges are uncertain about the status of spring and summer terms.

Faculty and academic librarians with elder and child care responsibilities, the majority of whom are women and single parents, are experiencing immense pressure to continue working overtime while caring for their loved ones as a result of school and daycare closures. Academic staff with disabilities, many of whom are already struggling with “normal” workloads due to inadequate accommodations, are also being asked to increase their workloads. Indigenous cultural pedagogical approaches to teaching are being impacted by these measures. These issues are compounded for contract faculty within these groups.

Elsewhere on campus, many foodservice and custodial staff have been laid off due to the full or partial closure of campus operations, and students relying on both on-campus and off-campus jobs are experiencing a loss of income and struggling to pay the bills. The forced closure of student residences has also put students, particularly international students, in a particularly vulnerable position. And across Canada, racialized students and faculty are experiencing heightened levels of xenophobia and racism as a direct result of this pandemic.

To date, the government has implemented measures that do not address the needs of the most vulnerable members of our communities. Asking people to stay home, without offering them the financial support to do so is harmful and counterproductive. In contrast, provinces such as Alberta, have provided income support for persons who are self-isolating due to COVID-19. To alleviate housing concerns, British Columbia has launched a rental aid program for residents. Ontario should follow suit and provide timely supports for workers who are unable to work due to lay-offs, closures, or health concerns.

As OCUFA has previously stated, we strongly support the demands of the $15andFairness campaign to immediately introduce paid sick day provisions and provide at least $500 to workers who need to self-isolate, are currently on EI, or are mandated out of work by the recent closure of all non-essential services in the province.

We also support the calls of student groups for the government to include international students in the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and other governmental emergency benefit programs, and provide viable housing options to students who cannot leave campus residences. 

Now is the time for strong short and long-term economic investments that ensure the most vulnerable Ontarians come through this global health crisis.

Ontario’s faculty and academic librarians call on the provincial government to step-up to support workers who are struggling now.

Ontario spring economic statement contains vital investments in health care and marginal increase in postsecondary education funding but continues to fail province’s workers

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TORONTO, March 26, 2020 – OCUFA is pleased to see that the Ford government’s spring economic statement includes much needed investment in the province’s health care system and OSAP loan interest relief for students, but is disappointed there are only marginal increases to postsecondary education funding. Faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals represented by OCUFA are concerned that this government’s efforts continue to fall short, as it fails to address the realities faced by many suffering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including contract faculty and other precariously-employed workers and students.

While faculty are reassured to see that postsecondary education funding has not been cut, the Ford government’s reckless new “performance” based funding framework still threatens the stability of the province’s universities and colleges as well as the quality of education they provide. What Ontarians need now is stability and predictability at Ontario’s universities – it is not the time for policy experiments that have failed elsewhere. Faculty are also pleased that the government has listened to postsecondary students and provided them with six months of OSAP loan and interest accrual relief.

However, the Ford government continues to fail the thousands of Ontarians in precarious and low-wage jobs, including contract faculty. Yesterday’s announcement, while a historic and much needed public investment, skewed heavily towards supporting businesses without addressing the realities of those in precarious work. Public health and education should not be compromised for private profit. The introduction of unpaid emergency leave for workers and a small one-time payment for families with children does not address the serious economic and health-related struggles that Ontario’s most vulnerable workers are currently facing.

For the majority of precarious workers in Ontario – many of whom live paycheque to paycheque – unpaid leave, even when their job is protected, will still cause deep financial distress. And for many of the province’s contract faculty, a lack of job security and benefits means they find themselves facing increased economic and health instability during this pandemic.

To protect Ontarians unable to work due to illness or who need to support ailing loved ones, the province should immediately introduce legislation to protect all workers with 7 paid sick days each year, and an additional 14 paid sick days during public health crises such as this one. The government should also immediately provide $573 a week for workers who need to self isolate or are mandated out of work by the recent closure of all non-essential services in the province.

The federal government has stated that, “No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.” Yet, that is exactly the choice many Ontarians will be forced to make without adequate paid sick days, job security, income support, and housing security for those with rents and mortgages.

As an increasing number of Ontarians find themselves and their families impacted by the spread of COVID-19, the importance of public services – including health care, pharmacare, child care, public transit, and education – has never been more evident. In this crisis, it has become clear that funding for these services is far too low, and the fees to access some of these supports are too high.

This pandemic has been challenging for all Ontarians, but particularly the most vulnerable in our province. Faculty are pleased with yesterday’s announcement of new investments in public health and research, but that can only be a first step in coping with this crisis and helping Ontarians recover when the pandemic abates.

In the coming months, it is critical that the government increase investments in public services that are vital to the health and well-being of Ontarians. This should be funded through a more sustainable and responsible tax base made possible by eliminating many of the wasteful and regressive tax credits that cost the province more than $44 billion a year and by rebalancing the province’s progressive income tax system to ensure that the rich and corporations pay their fair share.

These are difficult times for Ontario, but OCUFA looks forward to a renewed dialogue with the provincial government about the value of public services and the important role universities play fostering the physical, mental, and economic wellbeing of all Ontarians.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 30 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead
416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca

OCUFA calls on the provincial government to ensure paid sick leave for Ontario workers

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OCUFA calls on the provincial government to ensure that workers across Ontario have access to paid sick leave during this public health crisis.

While the government’s proposed legislation today to guarantee unpaid leave of absence for employees is a step in the right direction, it falls short of what workers really need during this pandemic.

It is a public health imperative to grant workers paid leave to allow them to comply with public health guidelines without suffering financial distress to socially isolate especially when sick or caring for a sick person.

“No worker should have to pick between complying with public health guidelines and putting food on the table or covering rent.” said OCUFA President Rahul Sapra. The public health of Ontario, and Canada as a whole, depends on individuals’ compliance with public health regulations. “Without an income guarantee to cover workers’ basic expenses, the government of Ontario is endangering the health of all Ontarians,” said Sapra.

We applaud the government for heeding the advice of health practitioners to remove the need for a medical professional’s note for a job-protected emergency leave, yet we are alarmed that the government is not providing paid leave for workers.

“We are worried about the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable groups in society. On university campuses, we are particularly concerned about contract faculty, workers in precarious working conditions and international students” said Sapra.

As universities take on increased measures to ensure the health and safety of the campus community by shutting down regular operations and cancelling classes, we need the government to implement stronger protections to support workers whose livelihoods will be dramatically impacted during this period.

OCUFA remains committed to working with the provincial government and opposition parties to advocate for better protections for workers in this province and to continue to provide support to our members during this challenging time.

 

New articles from Academic Matters

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There is more to Academic Matters than just the print issue. New articles are being added to the Academic Matters website every week. Here are some recent articles you might find interesting:

Residential school literature can teach the colonial present and imagine better futures
By Michelle Coupal, University of Regina
“There is a growing body of literature — novels, memoirs, poetry, graphic novels, picture books — through which Indigenous writers are giving voice and agency to the experiences and histories of Indian residential schooling in Canada. The ethical teaching of residential school narratives can be thought…”

Lecture recordings mean fewer students are turning up – does it matter?
By Natalie Skead, University of Western Australia; Fiona McGaughey, University of Western Australia; Kate Offer, University of Western Australia; Liam Elphick, University of Western Australia, and Murray Wesson, University of Western Australia
“In 2017, a business lecturer posted a photo on LinkedIn showing a completely empty university classroom, 15 minutes after the class had been scheduled to start. This is not an isolated incident. Anecdotally, lecture and tutorial attendance has been declining steadily in Australian universities…”

How to make universities more inclusive? Hire more working-class academics
By Carole Binns, University of Bradford
“For several years, higher education institutions have been putting in place widening participation initiatives. These are designed to help address low levels of under-represented students applying to university. Such initiatives have led to increasing numbers of working-class students going on to higher education…”

Canada’s high schools are underfunded and turning to international tuition to help
By Lana Parker, University of Windsor; Bonnie Stewart, University of Windsor, and Natalie Delia Deckard, University of Windsor
“Despite months of work to rule and weeks of concentrated job actions, the Progressive Conservative government in Ontario has failed to negotiate a deal with teachers to date. Amid news about negotiation sticking points, such as class size and mandatory e-learning, a key issue…”

OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee Statement on International Women’s Day

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On International Women’s Day, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC) celebrates the achievements made by women, trans, gender-diverse, and non-binary faculty and academic librarians towards workplace equity on Ontario campuses. 

Addressing employment equity within and across academic institutions continues to be a priority issue for SWEC. We applaud Ontario faculty associations who have made significant gains towards addressing gender-based inequities such as gendered salary anomalies and enhancing provisions for parents and caregivers in their workplaces. The tireless efforts of these gender equity champions have made significant differences in the lives of academic staff. 

While we celebrate these achievements, there is still more work to be done. 

On campuses across Ontario, women, trans, and gender-diverse faculty continue to be underrepresented as full-time, tenure-stream faculty and librarian appointments and overrepresented in precarious, short-term contract positions. This discrepancy is more pronounced for those marginalized by multiple aspects of their identities including Indigeneity, race, sexuality, and ability. 

The provincial government’s Bill 124, which caps public sector wage increases at 1%, further exacerbates gender pay gaps by denying faculty unions the ability to negotiate better compensation for these contract faculty members. This cap will deny fair wages and benefits to thousands of academic staff working term-to-term and already struggling to make ends meet, including taking care of their families. 

SWEC also urges the provincial government to reverse the unnecessary metrics being implemented through the new performance-based funding model. These ill-conceived metrics have the potential to adversely impact students belonging to underrepresented communities in programs that are often taught by women and gender diverse faculty. 

We join with our colleagues who work on short-term, precarious contracts in calling on the government to provide increased stable, reliable funding to postsecondary institutions to improve the lives of women, trans, and gender-diverse faculty and academic librarians in the province.

OCUFA board discusses resistance to government cuts at 160th meeting

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On Saturday, February 8 and Sunday, February 9, OCUFA held its second Board of Directors meeting of the 2019-20 academic year. Over the weekend, board members discussed the organization’s current priorities – good jobs, university funding, and capacity building – with a focus on challenges to the postsecondary sector and to public education as a whole under the current government.

Review of current priorities

Throughout the meeting, board members discussed OCUFA’s priorities for the 2019-20 year and the challenges presented by the Ford government. Updates were presented on several important developments since the fall.

Good jobs

In January, OCUFA joined the Ontario Federation of Labour’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act. The legislation violates workers’ rights to free and fair collective bargaining; threatens pay equity and benefits for contract faculty and other marginalized workers; and will erode the foundations of Ontario’s important public services, including postsecondary education.

University funding

OCUFA has submitted its proposed recommendations for the 2020 Ontario Budget, which aim to preserve the accessibility and quality of postsecondary education in Ontario through stable, consistent, and adequate funding, as well as improved working conditions for university faculty.

The board also received an update on the Ford government’s newly implemented performance-based funding model and the final stages of the third round of Strategic Mandate Agreements the government is negotiating with Ontario’s universities.

Capacity building

In November, OCUFA held its annual Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park, an opportunity for faculty to meet with their local Members of Provincial Parliament and brief them about faculty priorities for Ontario’s universities. During dozens of meetings, faculty from across the province advocated for stronger public funding for postsecondary education, fairness for contract faculty, faculty renewal, and for the government to respect workers’ rights.

The board was also updated on the upcoming Social Media Day of Action in support of publicly funded education and better contract faculty working conditions. Each year OCUFA coordinates the day of action so that contract faculty and their allies can come together and raise awareness about the fact that half of the faculty in Ontario universities work on short-term precarious contracts, often without benefits or any job security.

Student Choice Initiative struck down

Board members were updated on the Ford government’s most recent legal defeat. In November, the Ford government’s controversial Student Choice Initiative (SCI) was ruled unlawful by the Ontario Divisional Court. The court found that Ford’s Cabinet and then Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities overstepped their authority in making democratically determined students’ union dues optional, that the SCI’s requirements were inconsistent with the laws governing Ontario’s universities and colleges, and that the SCI interfered with university autonomy and student democracy.

Education unions’ bargaining and striking under the Ford government

A special panel on Saturday afternoon featured Liz Stuart, President of the Ontario Elementary Catholic Teachers’ Association; Harvey Bischof, President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation; and Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

The union leaders received a warm welcome from OCUFA’s Board of Directors and proceeded to provide a brief update of the status of their bargaining efforts and strike actions under the Ford government. Following an overview of the government’s cuts to Ontario’s public education system, the panelists identified the impact the government’s actions have had and will have if they are left unchallenged. The panel participants thanked OCUFA members for their support of teachers and support workers in this round of bargaining. Following the panel, OCUFA board members reaffirmed their support for the education unions in a formal motion of solidarity.

Celebrating excellence in teaching and promoting equity

During a special lunchtime reception, board members and colleagues celebrated the winners of OCUFA’s 2019 Lorimer Award, Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, and inaugural Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration. Collectively, these awards celebrate the extensive contributions faculty, academic librarians, and other professional academic staff have made to improving working conditions and advancing equity on Ontario campuses.

The Lorimer Award recognizes those individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining. This year’s recipient is Geoffrey Hudson.

The Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups. This year’s recipients are Kimberly Nugent, an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and Andrea O’Reilly, a Professor at York University.

This is the inaugural year for the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration, sponsored by OCUFA’s Grievance Committee, which recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the defence of collective agreements through the grievance/arbitration process. This year’s recipients are Christal Côté, the Director and Senior Grievance and Arbitration Officer for the Carleton University Academic Staff Association, and Sophie Quigley, a Professor at Ryerson University and Grievance Officer for the Ryerson Faculty Association.

The next OCUFA Board of Directors meeting will be held May 9-10, 2020.

Worldviews 2020 – The Myth of Meritocracy: From satire to social inequality POSTPONED

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The 2020 Worldviews Lecture will be postponed in compliance with recent public health guidelines about gatherings in response to COVID–19.

We will announce a future date for the event in the coming weeks.

We wish you all good health during these challenging times.

 

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and the Centre for the Study of Canadian International Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto will be hosting the sixth annual Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education.

The Myth of Meritocracy:
From satire to social inequality

Speaker: Professor Jo Littler

Date and time: Postponed
Location: YWCA Toronto, 87 Elm Street, Toronto
Registration: This is a free public event but advance registration is required.

The concept of meritocracy suggests that anyone can ascend the social and economic ladder if they work hard enough, regardless of their social position. This rather ambitious claim originated as a satirical take on social mobility in the 1950’s.

And yet meritocracy is now embedded at the heart of our economic, social, cultural, and academic institutions in a way that obscures the role meritocracy plays in social exclusion.

This year’s Worldviews lecture will attempt to make meritocracy satire again.

The evening will open with a talk by Professor Jo Littler of City, University of London and author of Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility. Her talk will be followed by a conversation with a dynamic panel of experts and academics, featuring Rupa Banerjee, Carl James, and Wayne Lewchuk.

The discussion, moderated by Trish Hennessy, will explore the ways merit creates social and economic barriers and address its intersections with class, race, gender, and immigration status.

The event is free and open to the public but registration is required. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an engaging conversation, and will continue the discussion afterwards at a special reception courtesy of Goldblatt Partners.

For more information and to register, please visit: https://worldviewsconference.com

Call for submissions: 2019-2020 Annual OCUFA Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards

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Each year, OCUFA is proud to celebrate outstanding achievement in teaching and academic librarianship at Ontario universities. Through the Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards, we recognize those individuals whose pedagogical leadership and support have made a positive and enduring difference to their students and colleagues.

Anyone within the university community can nominate a faculty member or academic librarian for an award, so long as the nominee is a member of an OCUFA affiliated faculty association. For the first time, this year’s award guidelines include special nomination criteria for contract faculty to facilitate the nomination of historically marginalized members of the academy. Award recipients are selected by an independent OCUFA committee made up of faculty, librarians, and student representatives.

This year, the deadline for nominations is May 22, 2020. Guidelines for the award can be found here:

Nomination packages should be saved as a single pdf file and submitted online at: https://ocufa.on.ca/awards_application/

Solidarity with Ontario’s teachers and education workers during today’s province-wide strike

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OCUFA’s 17,000 university faculty and academic librarians stand in solidarity with the province’s 200,000 elementary and secondary school educators and support staff in their historic, one-day province-wide strike.

Ontario’s educators are leading the fight against the Ford government’s cuts and austerity measures that target the most marginalized in our province.

As faculty and academic librarians who work at every university in the province, we know first hand that maintaining the quality and accessibility of Ontario’s education system is essential for building an equitable and just society.

We call on the Ford government to get back to the bargaining table and grant teachers and support staff the fair deal they deserve.

Educators in Ontario, we stand with you. Thank you for defending public education in our province.

Ontario universities must respect the autonomy of democratically governed students’ unions

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At universities and colleges across Ontario, democratically elected students’ unions are a vital part of the campus community. They provide numerous services to their members, including access to vibrant student clubs, inclusive spaces, event programming, and important resources that support marginalized students on campus.

Students’ unions also engage in advocacy work that gives their members a voice with which to hold university administrations and governments accountable. As the Ontario Divisional Court noted in its recent ruling against the Student Choice Initiative, students’ unions are essential to collegial governance structures at Ontario universities.

Faculty respect and value the contributions students’ unions make towards our shared goals of fostering vibrant universities that provide accessible, quality education and innovative, groundbreaking research.

These students’ unions, founded by and for students, are fully autonomous not-for-profit corporations governed by democratically elected boards and executives. They are membership-driven organizations funded by their members through dues.

As not-for-profit corporations, students’ unions are required to follow the same rules and regulations as all not-for-profit corporations in Ontario, including holding open and democratic elections, annual general meetings, and having annual audits approved by their members.

Further, it is common for university administrations to agree to collect and remit membership dues on behalf of the students’ union and its members. This arrangement is similar to how university administrations collect and remit membership dues to labour unions on campus. Therefore, it is important to emphasize that this money belongs to the students’ union, not the university.

It is understandable that, from time to time, certain actions of a students’ union, its leadership, or its staff might be of concern to a university administration – just as certain actions of the university administration, its leadership, or its staff might be of concern to students or faculty.

Ultimately, it is students’ union members who are responsible for holding their union and its leadership accountable. As democratic organizations, when the leadership of a students’ union takes an action their members disagree with, students are able to exercise their democratic rights and hold their leadership accountable. Time and again we have seen this democratic engagement in action. New executives are elected and new transparency and accountability measures are put into force.

It is members of the students’ union, not the university administration, who have the authority to decide the appropriate next steps. If students wish to impeach and replace their union’s president or other executive members, that is their right. If students want to change the bylaws that govern the operations of their students’ union, that is their right. If students want to organize a referendum to dissolve their students’ union and replace it with another, that is their right.

University administrations, however, do not have the authority or justification to violate the legal autonomy of students’ unions or any other campus unions. Regardless of their motives for doing so, university administrations have no right to:

  • withhold students’ union membership dues;
  • interfere in students’ union elections or operations; or
  • attempt to shut down students’ unions (or any other legally autonomous organization).

Engaging in any of the activities listed above actively undermines the democratic rights of students and threatens the autonomy of a students’ union and its ability to represent and support its members.

It is vital that university administrations understand the limits of their authority. As concerned as a university administration might be, they have no right to withhold students’ union membership dues, interfere in a students’ union operations, or dictate the terms by which democratic students’ unions operate on campus.

Join a picket line to show your solidarity with Ontario educators during their one-day province-wide strike

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On Friday, February 21, Ontario’s four public school teachers’ unions will hold a province-wide strike to escalate pressure on the Ford government to come back to the bargaining table. This is the first time since 1997 that all four education unions will be on strike on the same day.

The one-day strike will highlight educators’ demands that the government reverse its plans to cut education funding, increase class sizes, and introduce mandatory e-learning.

The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, and Ontario Elementary Catholic Teachers Federation are asking the Ford government to preserve the quality and accessibility of Ontario’s public education system.

Picket lines will be set up at public elementary and secondary schools across Ontario and all university faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professional staff are encouraged to join a picket line and show their solidarity.

Saturday, February 22: The People vs. Conservative Cuts Rally in Niagara Falls

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Next weekend, on Saturday, February 22, citizens from across Ontario will visit beautiful Niagara Falls to participate in The People vs. Conservative Cuts Rally, organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

That weekend, Conservatives will hold their policy convention at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls and the people of Ontario intend to make their voices heard. The rally will put a spotlight on the reckless policies and massive cuts Ford’s government has made to our valued public services.

Together, we can make sure that delegates to the convention hear the message from the People of Ontario: Stop the cuts!

RSVP today.

Unions are organizing free bus rides to the rally from across the province. Find a bus to the rally and get yourself a seat.

Following bargaining victory, Western Librarians and Archivists receive ChangeMaker Award from United Way and Labour United

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The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association’s Librarians and Archivists (UWOFA-LA) Bargaining Unit has received the ChangeMaker award from Labour United and United Way Elgin Middlesex in recognition of their organizing work and dedication during their most recent and successful round of bargaining.

The faculty association negotiated substantial improvements to their collective agreement following months of outreach and organizing as part of their GET LOUD! campaign.

As Dani Bartlett, Labour Programs & Services Coordinator for United Way Elgin Middlesex states, “the fight they took on was more than a fight for just their members, it was a fight to challenge policy and ensure workers are fairly compensated and valued in their workplace. As I watched this bargaining unfold one word kept coming to mind, FIERCE!”

The UWOFA-LA agreement gains them new office space, adds a new equity representative on selection committees, and establishes a Librarians and Archivists Forum to facilitate collegial discussion with the university administration. Further, a Memorandum of Agreement includes new voluntary retirement incentives with a guarantee that those positions are replaced.

As recipients of the award, the UWOFA Librarians and Archivists are among an impressive group of community mobilizers and stand-up citizens who inspired their colleagues and communities to take action.

Read more here.