LUFA Deplores Decline of Library Funding

(Sudbury – 28 June 2017) LUFA is dismayed at the decline of library funding in the university budget approved by the Board of Governors at its meeting on June 23. “There is not a penny of new funding for the library,” says LUFA president Jim Ketchen. “Instead, the library’s share of the budget has gone down from 3.6 percent to 3.2 for the coming fiscal year. This places it far below the Ontario university system average of 4 percent.”

The library has been in a weakened state since 2014, when the decline of the Canadian dollar on international currency markets precipitated a funding crisis. Most of the library’s subscriptions must be paid in US dollars. The result has been cutbacks and freezes, with few books purchased and numerous cancellations of journals and databases.

“For three years, the university has turned a deaf ear despite the pleas from professors and students to address this horrible situation,” Ketchen says. “Now, with a 7 percent boost to the materials budget, the administration claims to be addressing it – but it has come at the expense of staffing. It’s a shell game with ‘new’ funding created by taking funds from other budgets that are no less essential.”

According to the annual Maclean’s survey of Canadian universities, funding for library expenses at Laurentian (including staffing) is already among the lowest in the country. “We deplore the administration’s shameful neglect of the library,” Ketchen says.

Bargaining Team Announcement

The LUFA Executive and Board are pleased to announce that a team has been chosen for the upcoming 2017 round of collective bargaining.

Led by Chief Negotiator Denis Hurtubise are team members Linda St-Pierre, Fabrice Colin, and Karen McAuley. This small, dedicated, and experienced team will pursue our interests at the table and will work toward securing and improving the working conditions for all LUFA members.

Members Affected by Executive Order Should Defer Travel Plans

(Ottawa – January 30, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers is advising its members affected by an executive order preventing individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days to defer their travel plans.

“Canadian academics who might be affected by the order and who have travel plans in the coming days should postpone travel to the United States,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.

While the Government of Canada has clarified that the executive order will not affect individuals from the seven countries who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, Robinson is recommending that they seek legal counsel before they travel to the United States. The seven targeted countries are Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Robinson is also recommending that members consult the CAUT Travel Advisory, Travelling to the United States: Your Rights at the Border.

“We join with others in condemning this action as discriminatory,” he added.

CAUT represents over 70,000 academic staff working in more than 120 universities and colleges across Canada.

Appointment of LUFA’s Chief Negotiator

(Sudbury – January 6, 2017) On the recommendation of the Executive, the Board has appointed Dr. Denis Hurtubise as LUFA’s Chief Negotiator for the contract beginning July 1, 2017.

Dr. Hurtubise was until recently Associate Vice-President, Academic and Francophone Affairs at Laurentian University. He previously served as Dean of Studies at Université du Québec en Outaouais. He was also Vice-President, Academic and Research as well as an Associate Professor at Saint-Paul University. He is currently a member of both the Ontario University Council on Quality Assurance and the Quality Network for Universities of the Conference Board of Canada. Dr. Hurtubise also has significant experience in labour relations, as he was for four years Vice-President, then President of the Professors’ Association of Saint Paul University.

Ratification of First Collective Agreement for Clinicians

(November 24, 2016) LUFA is pleased to announce that the Clinicians ratified their first Collective Agreement on Nov. 3. The highlights of the agreement include parity with music sessionals for compensation by 1 July 2017; parity with all sessional members on rights such as professional allowance and tuition fee exemption; and retroactive recognition of establishment and seniority.  The LUFA Board congratulates and thanks the Bargaining Team of Sylvie Larocque and Linda St-Pierre.

Solidarity with the University of Manitoba Faculty Association

(November 8, 2016) LUFA Secretary-Treasurer Jean-Charles Cachon was in Winnipeg on Friday to show solidarity with the University of Manitoba Faculty Association, which has been on strike since Nov. 1 (see the photo below of Cachon holding the LUFA sign, taken in front of university’s administration building where the president’s office is located). He also presented a cheque on LUFA’s behalf for $2,000. Cachon is a trustee of the CAUT Defence Fund, which organizes solidarity picket visits (“Flying Pickets”) by faculty association reps from across Canada during job actions.


Impasse in Negotiations on First Collective Agreement for Clinicians

(September 26, 2016) LUFA and the administration have reached an impasse at the bargaining table for a first Collective Agreement for its Clinician members. LUFA has requested the assistance of a Ministry of Labour conciliator.

The Clinicians are responsible for teaching the Nursing students in a clinical setting, working with patients, which is a mandatory component of several courses in the Nursing program. They had certified with LUFA earlier this year. Recently, the bargaining team of Linda St-Pierre and Sylvie Larocque (Nursing) met with the employer to discuss wage increases and benefits.

The wages of Laurentian Clinicians are significantly behind those of other Clinicians working in the academic sector. They are also significantly lower than the wages provided to unionized Clinicians teaching at Cambrian in the same program and courses. For this reason LUFA proposed a significant salary increase in order to provide some equity in pay.

However, the administration is only prepared to offer a 2% salary increase despite the fact that Laurentian Clinicians are between 11% and 58% below the rates paid at Cambrian.

The administration is also refusing to recognize Clinicians as sessionals who deserve the same working conditions as our other sessional members at Laurentian. These rights and benefits include gym membership and tuition exemption for members and their families, access to a library card, a shared office space on campus, sick leave, and seniority rights.

The administration has offered to recognize very few of the benefits and will not extend them to dependents. Its proposal on working conditions would instead make Clinicians a second class of contract academic staff at Laurentian, even though their unique work and special expertise are valuable to the University.

LUFA will be calling a meeting with Clinician members in the near future to discuss the next steps. Should conciliation fail, LUFA will discuss other means of persuading the administration to agree to a fair deal.

LUFA Supports Canadian Academic Detained in Iran

(June 26, 2016) LUFA has contributed $1,000 to the defence fund of the Concordia University Faculty Association in support of Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian academic who is under detention in Iran. Letters of concern have also been written to prime minister Justin Trudeau, foreign affairs’ minister Stéphane Dion, and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Dr. Hoodfar, who recently retired from Concordia University, has apparently been charged by Iranian authorities with sedition. She has been subjected to lengthy and repeated interrogations, her passport has been seized, and her personal belongings confiscated. Since June 14, she has been held incommunicado at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Dr. Hoodfar is a respected member of the academic community. Her research investigates issues ranging from household and family relations to the challenges facing women in Middle Eastern societies, including in Iran. No evidence has been presented that Dr. Hoodfar’s research on the recent Iranian election, where 17 women were elected, has been subversive.

LUFA strongly supports the stands taken by Amnesty International, which considers Dr. Hoodfar to be a prisoner of conscience, and the Canadian Association of University Teachers.