The Job Action Committee, newly established under ULFA’s Job Action Policy, held its first meeting on Monday, October 1. This Committee includes Dr. Kristine Alexander, Ms Andrea Amelinckx, Dr. Robert Kossuth, and resource persons Derrick Antson and Annabree Fairweather.
The Job Action Committee is responsible for planning logistics and other processes and rules in the unlikely event of a lockout or strike. The likelihood of job action is very small and cannot take place until after a series of prescribed steps have been followed as set out in the Alberta Labour Relations Code. The Committee is tasked, however, with preparing for such an eventuality, and with ensuring that the ULFA membership has the tools and information in hand that it would require in such an event.
The committee discussed ULFA’s Job Action Policy, questions that are likely to arise through this work, and the logistics that might need to be prepared.
Does having a Job Action Committee mean we are going to have job action?
No. The likelihood of job action is very small and cannot take place until after a series of prescribed steps have been followed as set out in the Alberta Labour Relations Code. One such requirement is that ULFA and the Board of Governors must have an Essential Services Agreement in place prior to any job action and while the negotiating teams have met, there is no such agreement in place at this time. Additionally, the ULFA collective bargaining team has regularly reported on the positive progress to date of bargaining on the Faculty and Sessional Lecturer Handbooks.
What is “job action” and why does it need a committee?
Job Action means a work stoppage caused by a lockout (by an employer) or a strike (by employees). The committee is created under ULFA’s Job Action Policy and its primary responsibility is to make logistical preparations that would be used in the event of job action. This committee is intended to work in tandem with the collective bargaining team and the Essential Services Agreement (ESA) bargaining team so that in the event of job action, ULFA members will be prepared and ready in advance of a lockout or a strike. Members can follow regular updates on bargaining at ulfa.ca/bargaining.
If there’s no job action, then what does this committee do?
The Job Action Committee is needed up until the point that a new collective agreement is ratified. There’s a lot of work to do behind-the-scenes to prepare in the unlikely event of f job action. We have made some preparations already toward the new reality under which job action has become the final resort, by joining the CAUT Defence Fund and implementing a local preparedness fund. At this early stage we are focused on assessing the logistics of job action and building educational outreach with the membership about what’s involved.
ULFA members hold the ultimate authority to mandate a strike and we know that our members are well-informed and thoughtful about collective bargaining.
We need to prepare more carefully for the possibility of a lockout initiated by the Board of Governors because that situation can occur under timelines and circumstances that are not fully within our control. The best way to protect against a lockout is to be prepared and this committee is tasked with doing the preparation.
How can I get involved?
The Job Action Policy has many parts that need to be fleshed out and the Committee is in the incipient stages of organizing itself and making plans. There’s room for help and your participation would be welcome. Currently, there is room for people to get involved who have experience from ULFA’s standing committees (the Executive, Handbooks and Economic Benefits Committees, and Gender, Equity and Diversity Committee). Even if you don’t have any experience with ULFA, this is a great committee to be a part of and could use a diversity of representation across faculties, ranks, and campuses.
I have more questions!
We have put together a list of job action frequently asked questions that might help answer some of your questions. We are exploring opportunities for a town hall to discuss some of these issues and will keep you informed about developments from our meetings.
You are also welcome to contact the Job Action Committee members: