May 30th, 2024

U of L Faculty Association rallies to voice concerns


By Lethbridge Herald on November 18, 2021.

Members and supporters of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association stage an information rally Wednesday afternoon in front of the university. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association believes the school is worth fighting for.

And they got the message across to the public on Wednesday with an afternoon #WorthFightingFor information rally in front of the university at the intersection of University Drive and Columbia Boulevard.

The rally was to raise awareness to what the association calls “damaging cuts to post-secondary education, concerning issues currently under negotiation and their negative impacts for the Lethbridge community.”

The association is seeking a settlement that addresses “salary and workload inequities, protection of academic freedom, collegial governance and provides for a more equitable, inclusive and diverse workplace,” says the association.

Dozens of the U of L’s approximately 400-500 faculty members carried banners and listened to speakers at the 3 p.m. rally.

ULFA president and English professor Daniel O’Donnell said during the rally that members have gone just over 500 days without a contract.

The university is asking the ULFA to take a retro-active four per cent pay cut after years of no salary increases, he said.

A press release from the ULFA says members are paid between 10 and 15 per cent less than their counterparts at “comparator” universities. The faculty association is concerned about negative impacts of the cuts on the city, faculty retention and recruitment and students.

“This rally is really an information rally meant to let the people of Lethbridge, members of the board, students know about the situation that we’re facing at the university at this moment, which is the uncertainty we’ve had 500 odd days in without a contract. There’s been very, very little progress at the table and we think that that’s coming across everywhere at the university. 

It’s showing up we think in terms of the numbers of grievances we’re seeing, it’s showing up in terms of student unhappiness and student uncertainty.

“And really this rally is meant to say that enough is enough. This is our university, it’s a university the people of Lethbridge fought to get set up and we think it’s worth fighting for. And we have to come together to stop this uncertainty,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said there’s been little progress on contract negotiations with the university.

“This time last round we were finished. That was a fairly slow round. I believe we settled four or five articles only at this point and even worse, many of them have only been passed once or twice back across the table. The issue in negotiations is you need a lot of contact time, you need people willing to make moves, to say OK this is not exactly what we want but we’re able to find that common ground.

“And that’s what we’re not seeing,” O’Donnell said.

“We’re seeing initial positions and that’s it. And that’s really what’s got to change,” he said.

The association has no idea how long talks will take.

“We’re going in to mediation at the end of this month.”

The board initially surprised the faculty by asking for informal mediation, he said.

“The problem with that is there’s no real pressure to get things done. And mediation requires there to be that pressure. So we’ve asked for formal mediation.”

If that doesn’t work, O’Donnell said then options have to be considered.

“We’re really hopeful that there will be movement and if that happens, it could be done January, it could be done February. If it doesn’t happen, who knows?”

O’Donnell said students have been supportive of the faculty.

“Obviously, nobody wants to see disruption of student education. We’re all university people because we want to be teachers, want to teach our fields. It’s this uncertainty is actually the real problem for students so what we’re hearing is that the students are standing with us because we can’t have this sort of endless uncertainty,” O’Donnell said.

“Thus far, we’ve seen really good support from the student union, we’re hearing it in the classes, we’re hearing it in the hallways,” O’Donnell said.

Other issues are also involved in contract talks.

“There’s a proposal to restrict academic freedom to the business interests of the university,” he said.

“Obviously nobody in Alberta wants the institutions we built becoming a mouthpiece for government.”

There are also internal matters including attempts to restrict the accompaniment the union can provide a member if there’s a discipline case or if they have questions for administration. There are also attempts to limit the amount of time available to file a grievance, said O’Donnell.

“In all of these cases, it’s really an attempt to stop the kind of collegial government that has made this university as great as it is,” O’Donnell said.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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johnny57

Why not make some more meaningful cuts at the U of L. Lets start with the “Gender Study” ones first that promote misandry in our society. We already have enough hate in this world! Why fund it with tax-payer dollars

Mrs. Kidd (she/her)

Mr. 57, I suggest, respectfully, that you enroll in a gender studies course.

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pursuit diver

Canada’s debt was doubled in the last 2 years, hovering around $550 billion to $750 billion in the last 3 decades, to what is projected within months to be $1.4 trillion.
COVID, oil and gas revenues slashed due to project shut down have devastated this country financially and many still do not have jobs, or are working jobs that they are over-qualified for, at a much lower wage, yet these ‘out of touch’ ‘uneducated’ supposed educators ignore the crisis we now face with major budgets cut across all governments in this country.
Who will pay for the extra costs? The students! They are the ones that will pay, meaning that increases in education costs will make it impossible for many to attend.
Shameful!!!!

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