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Mini Bulletin

Table of Contents

  1. Workday Update
  2. Survey on uOttawa Safety Culture

1) Workday Update

The APUO is appalled by comments made by a University of Ottawa spokesperson in a CBC report regarding the transition to Workday.1 The central administration is blaming users for the countless failures of a system it bought at great cost, then planned its implementation and imposed its use.2 Such comments seem to reflect a growing tendency within university senior management to blame staff (and sometimes unions) for all the problems caused by decisions made by senior management, usually without any meaningful consultation.

The Central Administration decided and planned the transition to Workday without consulting the campus unions. Since the move to Workday was first announced, the APUO has denounced this lack of consultation and the questionable decision to invest over 45 million dollars into a system at a time when faculties’ and services’ budgets are experiencing severe cuts. We also expressed concerns over the fact that other Canadian campuses who transitioned to Workday experienced years of disruptions, which we learned through consulting faculty associations from these other universities.

It was with these concerns in mind that the APUO filed a Freedom of Information Request to learn more about the Central Administration’s contract with Workday, Inc. However, as we reported in April, the documents received were almost completely redacted and provided no new information.

From mid-August, the APUO received a growing number of queries and complaints from members about Workday. Drawing on these concerns, the APUO ran a survey on Workday from September 18 to October 4, 2023, to document the various problems members faced with Workday. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete this survey. The vast majority of the 524 respondents made clear that Workday presented a large array of problems, including serious impacts on research funds and grants management, increased workloads due to administrative work and time lost navigating Workday and its bugs. The preliminary survey results were presented at the APUO Board of Directors’ October meeting.

The APUO has filed two association grievances using the results from our Workday survey. The system itself and its implementation have caused high levels of stress, overwork and in some cases, financial strain. The step one meetings with the Employer on these grievances will take place on December 8. We will keep the membership updated on any progress with these files. 

The Workday implementation plan, just like the previous Concur implementation plan and the new uOttawa website plan, all demonstrate continuing failures of the Tabaret leadership. It is no surprise that, when uOttawa participated in a benchmarking exercise (UniForum) with global peers, including ten Canadian Universities, the results showed “faculty and staff experience the second lowest overall satisfaction of services offered among participating universities” and that “uOttawa spends 17% more on professional services than the average, similar-sized research-intensive university”. Contrary to the messaging provided to the CBC by the Employer’s spokesperson, the uOttawa Polaris project webpage states that “The University of Ottawa 2022 UniForum ranking has less to do with people’s work ethic and more to do with operational design. Our people work hard, and they have the University of Ottawa’s best interests at heart. However, our way of delivering services (processes, strategies, governance, structure, etc.) is keeping us from properly equipping every member of our community”.3

The APUO continues to encourage members to share their experiences with Workday with the union. This information can help bolster our position in future meetings with the Employer. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We wish to remind members that we are organizing a lunch in preparation for collective bargaining on December 7th from 12:30pm to 2pm in Desmarais room 4101. Members are invited to attend and share their priorities as we head into this next round of bargaining. RSVP here.

2) Survey on uOttawa Safety Culture

On Tuesday, November 28, the Office of the Chief Risk Officer released a Survey on uOttawa Safety Culture. The APUO has been informed by our representatives on uOttawa’s functional health and safety committees that the survey does not include any questions relating to psychological health and safety, despite calls from health and safety committee members, including the Psychological Functional Health and Safety Committee, to include this important workplace issue. Psychological health and safety have been a growing concern among APUO members for a number of reasons, including the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, fears stemming from the University of Waterloo attack in June 2023 and rising levels of stress and burnout due to increased workloads and budget cuts.

Since the Employer has seemingly ignored the calls to include psychological health and safety in the Survey on uOttawa Safety Culture, the APUO and our health and safety representatives encourage members who have concerns on this issue to include them in the final comment box of the survey.

[1] Please note that this CBC report did not gather perspectives from all campus unions, including the APUO and the support staff union (SSUO). As such, we will be communicating with the CBC journalist working on this story to provide key additional information which would supplement that which was offered by CUPE 2626 and APTPUO.

[2] The deans of Arts and Social Sciences also recognized the disrespectful nature of these comments and shared strong statements opposing them to their respective faculties.

[3] Accessed on December 1, 2023. Please note that this webpage is only available to uOttawa employees through VirtuO.