NASA has joined with 15 other unions representing workers in post-secondary education in sending an open letter calling on Concordia University of Edmonton President Tim Loreman to put forward a fair offer to the Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) to bring an end to the current labour dispute, which is now in its second week. The full text of the letter is below.
“An injury to one is an injury to all”
Dear Tim Loreman,
We, the undersigned, are writing in solidarity with our colleagues at the Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) who have been on strike since January 4, 2022. This is the first strike of its kind in Alberta and the first strike within the post-secondary sector within the last two and a half years. We commend and applaud CUEFA for their bravery to take such important action under such difficult conditions.
The reason for the strike is that CUEFA is simply asking for job security, reasonable working conditions, and above all, fair compensation. Although progress has been made on job security, it is unfortunate that the Concordia University of Edmonton has not committed to paying CUEFA members with comparable salaries at similarly sized institutions. For example, faculty at Grant MacEwan University make more than $23 000 on average than CUEFA faculty members. CUEFA members, on the other hand, remain amongst the lowest paid faculty in Canada. Furthermore, the Board of Governors at the Concordia University of Edmonton passed a change to the bylaws stating that the negotiations over the salary of the President would be guided by the compensation paid to the Presidents of an agreed-to set of comparator Canadian universities. This happened as the board was in bargaining with CUEFA. We are surprised that the same approach to compensation was not offered to CUEFA members.
Moreover, Concordia University of Edmonton announced a surplus of $11.5 million in 2021 according to its 2020/2021 annual report. That is a 25% profit on their operating budget of $46 million (by way of comparison, the Bank of Montreal ran only a 21% profit in its second quarter this year). With such a significant surplus, the Concordia University of Edmonton chose to purchase a mansion without a clear vision of how this would support the university’s operations or its students, faculty, and staff. It is disappointing to see, to say at the very least, that these funds weren’t directed back to its faculty, librarians, laboratory instructors, and field placement coordinators.
We strongly believe that an injury to one is an injury to all. The issues that impact CUEFA - low pay, high workload, and stressful bargaining - impact unions across the post-secondary education sector in Alberta. Furthermore, cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant have meant that thousands of non-academic staff have lost their jobs, students have faced skyrocketing tuition increases, and faculty are under worsening working conditions with increased workloads. The post-secondary education sector in Alberta has suffered long in these past two and a half years, but we stand together in solidarity. Consequently, we will continue to support our colleagues in CUEFA throughout this strike. Their energy inspires us to remain engaged and active in defense of our members and our sector.
It is up to the employer, not the faculty association, to put an end to this strike. We urge the Board of Governors at Concordia University of Edmonton to put forward a fair agreement.
Academic Staff Association at the University of Alberta - represents 4000 academic staff at the University of Alberta
Alberta University of the Arts Faculty Association
Athabasca University Faculty Association
AUPE Local 39 - represents over 500 non-academic staff at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
AUPE Local 52 - represents 5200 non-academic staff at the University of Calgary
AUPE Local 53 - represents over 500 non-academic staff at the University of Lethbridge
AUPE Local 71 - represents over 2800 non-academic staff at 11 Alberta colleges and 2 school boards
Calgary and District Labour Council - represents 47 000 affiliated members
CUPE 3911 - represents 370 part time instructors at Athabasca University
Mount Royal Faculty Association - represents 800 academic staff at Mount Royal University
Mount Royal Staff Association - represents 700 non-academic staff at at Mount Royal University
NAIT Academic Staff Association - represents 900 members at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Non-Academic Staff Association at the University of Alberta - represents over 5000 non-academic staff at the University of Alberta
NorQuest College Faculty Association - represents 400 faculty members at NorQuest College
SAIT Academic Faculty Association - represents over 1200 permanent and adjunct faculty at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
University of Lethbridge Faculty Association - represents 600 academic staff at the University of Lethbridge