July 25th, 2024

It’s not simple for faculty to just move forward

By Lethbridge Herald on May 19, 2022.


Your recent article “University board responds to faculty group vote of non-confidence” (May 4) reports on the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors’ disappointment in a non-confidence vote by a group of professors. The article reports that the “Faculty Governance Group of the U of L sent a press release to city media” on this topic.

Two days prior to your article, my faculty colleagues and I received an email from the chair of the board governors on the very same topic. Given the board’s decision to make this matter public through a press release, I believe it is fair that I send you this letter for publication as well.

I believe the great majority of my faculty colleagues would agree with me that it is not so simple for us to “just put everything behind us and move forward positively” as the chair says we should do. While it may be true that the “faculty overwhelmingly supported the ratification of a new collective agreement” this does not remotely equate to the faculty believing that we were treated justly.

From our viewpoint, the administration was willing to play with our minds, our pay and our livelihood in an effort to harm the union.

 I heard from many of my colleagues that they could not believe that the senior officers of the university, whom faculty had previously believed were good people and good colleagues, were taking the actions that they took and sending out what we view as gaslighting press releases like they did. Whatever good feelings among faculty toward the administration may have existed prior to the strike disappeared overnight, figuratively speaking, as a result of how the administration handled its negotiations with ULFA, our faculty union.

In the aftermath of the settlement, we the faculty are greatly troubled by the tone of various communications that we have received from the administration and the board. 

Those communications imply that the ”labour disruption” was a problem caused solely by the troublesome faculty. 

In reality, faculty were on strike because the administration failed to bargain in good faith for over 600 days, thus denying the legal right of faculty to a collective agreement. One must also conclude that this was a problem caused in part by the board not holding the administration accountable for their failure to achieve honest collegial governance.

If the board and the administration are truly “committed to undertaking the necessary work to strengthen our institution following the labour disruption” then, from the U of L faculty’s collective point of view, the board and senior administrators should take concrete action to build a more collaborative approach to shared governance, and demonstrate through clear behavior that they respect the role of ULFA in representing all levels of faculty and instructors.

George Gonzalez, PhD

Associate Professor

Dhillon School of Business

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