We wanted to compile these questions to inform students as much as possible, and address commonly asked questions about the various ways faculty bargaining issues directly impact students and their learning experiences at CBU.
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The Faculty Association is bargaining for many improvements but three major areas include: member issues (such as benefits, stipends, and workload); grievance issues (there are more grievances at CBU than at any other university in Canada, an indication of the extent to which the administration ignores the existing collective agreement between CBUFA and CBU); and monetary issues.
The University was initially quite focused on proposing a new teaching-only stream (one that does not require research). While the Faculty Association is open to the possibility of such a stream, it had substantial concerns with the University's proposal. The University has since withdrawn the proposal for Teaching Scholars during conciliation.
CBUFA is still seeking a fair deal that recognizes the value of its members and will keep CBU a competitive and collegial place able to attract and retain highly qualified faculty and staff.
When we negotiate with the university for a new contract, we try to improve the overall quality of education for everyone at CBU. The quality of your education is determined by a number of factors, including class size; how much time Faculty members have to develop and teach courses; Faculty research expertise and experience; and the rigor, structure, and integrity of academic programs. CBU is known for the exceptional opportunities it offers its students to conduct original research alongside Faculty as well as independently, with Faculty mentorship. CBUFA is negotiating for a contract that will ensure that students will have instructors who can engage students in cutting-edge research and that students can build relationships with permanent Faculty members over time. CBUFA is negotiating a contract that will ensure that Faculty can design and deliver your academic programs and classes to the highest standards.
A grievance is filed by the Association when it finds that the Administration has acted in contravention of the collective agreement. They are time-consuming and sometimes expensive to address.
CBU has amassed an astonishing 64 labour grievances since the current president took office (for comparison, University of Saskatchewan—with six times the faculty—posts an average of 7 grievances each year). In 2022 we had the highest number ever in a year, with 20. This shows a lack of respect for our current collective agreement and is a major issue.
Handling grievances takes up the time of Faculty who volunteer to assist the Association and fellow members – time that Faculty could otherwise be giving to teaching, mentoring, and research. They also cost money – money that comes in part from student tuition – when the university decides to challenge the grievance they must pay for lawyers, negotiators, or arbitrators.
The first step in the grievance process is one or more meetings between the union and administration to see if the issue can be resolved internally. Unfortunately, the current administration has been unwilling to resolve many issues internally. Too often, the administration denies that an issue even exists. If a grievance goes to an arbitration process, an external arbitrator is hired to judge the case. The arbitrator’s fees are paid partly by the union (from members’ dues) but also from the revenue of the university. That is money that could be better spent on improvements for students, such as hiring more faculty; opening more sections of courses; improving teaching spaces, labs, and the library; and so on. That’s why it is better for everyone when there is a good relationship between CBUFA and the university administration, where each side follows the terms negotiated in the collective agreement.
The quality of education at CBU is directly impacted by discussions between the Faculty Association and the University at the bargaining table.
As you may have noticed, CBU is rapidly increasing its student numbers without adequately preparing space, services, and faculty to support these students. Rather than focusing on teaching, research, and learning, the administration has increasingly commodified the university, focusing on numbers, recruitment, and marketing.
Our negotiations aim to protect and expand CBUFA’s ability to effectively teach, mentor, and train our ever-growing student body.
In the event of a strike, CBUFA members will withdraw their labour (they will stop working), including teaching. Although CBUFA doesn’t know what the University will do in the event of a strike, it is quite likely that CBUFA member-taught classes will be canceled.
There are several unions at CBU beyond CBUFA, including a small number of faculty in a different union (NSGEU), support staff (CUPE), and maintenance and security staff (NSGEU). Each union will decide how it will support CBUFA in the event of a strike or lockout. In some cases, other union members may refuse to cross CBUFA’s picket lines as an act of solidarity, which could impact other classes and services offered at CBU.
At the conclusion of any job action, once the University knows how many classes have been canceled, the University will decide how those canceled classes will be addressed (e.g., by compressing or extending the term). At that point, faculty will decide how to manage course content (e.g., cutting select content, redesigning assessments).
Students may, of course, choose to work on coursework independently during any job action (e.g., reading the textbook). Since the University controls Moodle access, students will likely still have access to Moodle during any job action, although faculty will not be updating Moodle, assigning or grading student work, or interacting with students via Moodle.
In the event of a strike, CBUFA members will picket various entrances to campus (which could include the Cineplex and/or 500 George Street, as well as main campus). Picketing involves a number of members working together with their supporters to limit access to campus in order to provide people with information about CBUFA’s concerns. Picketers cannot prevent access to campus, but they are legally allowed to delay access in order to share information. You can therefore expect that it will take longer than usual to access campus by car.
No one living or working on campus will be prevented from accessing campus. Likewise, people providing services to CBU (e.g., food services) will be allowed to access campus. However, access will likely be much slower than usual. Workers in other unions (e.g., postal workers, bus drivers) may refuse to cross picket lines, which could result in some disruption or modification to their services.
Yes. Picketing will not prevent access to campus although it will likely slow it. However, if your job involves a CBUFA member in any way (e.g., as a supervisor), the CBUFA member will not be involved for the duration of any job action.
Yes, buildings and student support services remain open. Only CBUFA members will be on strike. CBUFA includes faculty, librarians, lab instructors, writing centre advisors, math and science centre advisors, research chairs, and nursing practice educators at CBU.
The library will remain open but some library services will be unavailable during a strike. The Math and Science Centre will close.
There has never been an academic strike in Canada that has lasted a full term, and students have always been able to complete their term. The CBUFA strike of 2000 was a 5 week long strike, and efforts were made to enable students to complete the term on time. If we do go on strike, we will work hard to ensure students in our courses remain on track once the strike is over. Strikes have happened one time or another at almost every Canadian university -- impacting students in every type of program, including those that have external accreditation or placement requirements -- so we have lots of examples and models that we can use to determine how to manage the remainder of term. However, we can't know how the term will be managed until after a strike or lockout has actually happened. Information about placements and work terms are not yet known.
In the event of a strike, CBUFA members will be withdrawing their services. That means that they won’t be working. CBUFA members cannot provide you with any kind of instruction or tutoring, they can’t grade any assignments, nor can they post new content to Moodle.
Writing a letter of recommendation is also technically faculty work. However, individual CBUFA members may choose whether or not they will write letters of recommendation.
Perhaps you simply want to check in with a faculty member to ask how they’re doing or express your support for the Association. That would be so nice! Your ability to do that will depend on whether the University decides to lock CBUFA members out of their CBU email accounts. That decision will be made as part of a set of “strike protocols.”
A strike protocol is set of ground rules that is negotiated between the Association and the Employer to govern the conduct of a strike. There is no legal requirement to negotiate such a protocol, or to include anything in particular in it. Issues that commonly feature in a strike protocol at a university include the length of time picketers can delay access to campus, the continuation of strikers’ benefits (e.g., dental and other health benefits) during strike action, continued access to employer-provided email, and the conditions under which strikers may access their offices or labs.
The government has a very useful FAQ about what to do if your institution is on strike. The government site notes that "This situation is beyond your control and your status as a study permit holder should not be affected. As a result of the strike, you will:
Western has a really useful website on your rights as an international student: https://iesc.uwo.ca/student_life/living_in_canada/rights_and_responsibilities.html
- International students have full protection under Canadian Law
Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Talk with your friends, colleagues, community, and family about what is happening in bargaining and to garner support!
Do you have any questions that haven’t been addressed here? We love hearing from our students! Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any additional questions or concerns or would like any further information. We will continue to include frequently asked questions here if and when they arise, and we look forward to providing students and community members with future updates on negotiations.