Yesterday, we provided an update on the state of collective bargaining between the Support Staff of the University of Ottawa (SSUO) and the Central Administration. Both parties participated in a mediation which, unfortunately, did not result in a tentative agreement. Our fellow 1,300 support staff friends and colleagues will be going out on strike as of the morning of Monday, October 19 unless a settlement is reached between now and then. At this time, however, no new negotiation dates are scheduled between the two parties. Put simply, APUO members should be prepared for work disruptions next week.
President Frémont, vice-president Bourgeois, and Provost and vice-president Scott’s disrespect of the SSUO’s massive strike vote last fall, and of the support staff’s equally overwhelming rejection of the Final Offer they tabled last June is set to have grave consequences on the quality of the student experience as of next week. Like APUO members, our support staff friends and colleagues have gone above and beyond in fending off the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Central Administration’s attempts to capitalize on an already difficult context to bully support staff into accepting wage and benefit cuts, an orphan clause, and continued vacancies in their bargaining unit marks a low point in our University’s history.
The Central Administration’s uncompromising stance does not bode well for the APUO’s upcoming collective bargaining which is set to begin in a few months. Inter-union solidarity has seldom been more important than this year.
In the event of a work disturbance, the Central Administration may call upon you to take on tasks usually conducted by the Support Staff. In solidarity with our SSUO colleagues, we urge APUO members to exercise their right to refuse taking on any support staff tasks during any work disturbance. We also encourage you to pass on any work requests usually undertaken by support staff to your Dean’s Office, and to the President and Vice-Presidents’ Offices.
As a reminder, here are some activities for which support staff are responsible:
- supervising and managing the affairs and committees of academic units;
- at the undergraduate level, support staff provide support to numerous academic activities, for example, by posting and confirming grades, scheduling courses and exams, fulfilling professors’ work-related requests, following up on student appeals, overseeing course evaluations, sending exams to print, and working VENTUS;
- at the graduate level, support staff assist professors with the administrative aspects of admissions files, registrations, graduate supervision, thesis defences, and the distribution of internal and external scholarships;
- at the Library, support staff ensure e-journals and research databases are functioning properly;
- support staff also act as laboratory coordinators in some faculties, running laboratory components, delivering lectures, overseeing procurement, and serving on committees;
- support staff assist APUO members in pedagogical design for curriculum for online courses;
- for our University’s finances, support staff review, process, and approve all University invoices, journal entries, and therefore control the release of payments for APUO members’ expenses.
The APUO is in close communication with the SSUO. We will continue to keep you informed of developments and the support that can be provided to our support staff colleagues.