ULFA has created a Job Action Protocol to help inform our members about what to expect in the unlikely event of a lockout or a strike. Since this is the first time the Faculty Association and its membership have had to consider what job action means for us, we anticipate a lot of questions from our Members. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions on the topic of job action below. If you have other questions, you are welcome to contact the Faculty Association office via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cessation of Employment Duties
Q: What does ‘job action’ actually mean in the context of a university?
A: ‘Job action’ is a term that refers to both a lockout (when the employer locks out employees) and a strike (when the union withdraws labour from the employer). During job action in the form of a strike, we withdraw our labour and participate in job action duties (such as participating in pickets, volunteering in the headquarters, coordinating volunteers and resources, etc.). During job action, we don’t perform employment-related duties, including but not limited to the following:
- Teaching (both on or off campus), supervising, and advising students;
- Emailing students to answer questions related to course material;
- Library work;
- Updating granting agencies regarding employment related tasks;
- Liaising with community partners for university-related work;
- Directing theatre or musical performances;
- Performing administrative duties.
Q: Do I have to participate in job action or is it optional?
A: All academic staff are required to participate in job action, unless you qualify as an exemption in the Essential Services Agreement or the ULFA Job Action Policy/Protocol. Contact the Job Action Committee for clarification. If you do not participate in the job action, you may face consequences, such as the loss of job action pay, fines, or other appropriate penalties.
Q: How do I know if I’m exempt from job action?
A: The majority of Members will be identified as having a job action status. There may be some Members, however, who will be considered exemptions and, thus, will continue as regular employees of the University, complete with salary and benefits in tact. These individuals will be identified in the Essential Services Agreement and the ULFA Job Action Policy/Protocol and including the following:
- Inactive Members as defined in Article 4.05 and 4.06 of the Faculty Handbook (including Senior Academic Administrators and faculty reps to the Board of Governors) and perform managerial decisions and conduct the business affairs for the University;
- Members who are off campus due to study leave, sick leave, long-term disability, political leave, maternity/parental leave, compassionate leave, or other leaves as approved by ULFA and the Board of Governors prior to the start of job action;
- Other cases may be agreed to between ULFA and the Board of Governors as they arise.
Q: Should I continue my research during job action?
A: As ULFA Members we are withholding teaching and administrative duties. Members with research activities underway that have time constraints or laboratory responsibilities will be provided with passes to cross the picket line in order to maintain the viability of laboratories, care of animals, or carry out other duties necessary to prevent the loss of data and assure the resumption of normal research activities after job action.
Q: What if there is an emergency during the job action that requires me to work?
A: The Association is committed to ensuring life-threatening emergencies are dealt with in a timely and effective manner and without jeopardizing the job action principles. Any emergencies that arise will be addressed and if you are required to perform university-related work, then the Association and the Board will negotiate the terms of the work.
Q: How do I balance the cessation of work during job action and my external commitments to granting agencies, funders, and partners?
A: If you have external commitments to granting agencies, funders, and partners that are not directly university-related work that’s assigned by the Dean, you may continue this work. Keep in mind, though, that minimizing your external commitments contributes to the success of the job action. For this reason, the Association recommends withdrawing as much of your service contributions as possible
Q: Can I communicate with my students during job action?
A: You are expected to withdraw from all your teaching-related duties, including supervising students in alternate modes of study. You may communicate with students for the purpose of updating them about job action. The Association will also have updated information on its website, social media and at our headquarters.
Q: I’m on study leave (or another leave) when the job action started and I am scheduled to return to work during the job action. What do I do?
A: You are not considered to be on strike while you’re on leave and you will continue to be paid by the University during that time. Once you are scheduled to return to work, however, your status will change to that of a locked-out or striking employee. You will be expected to cease all your duties as an employee and participate in the job action. You will also receive job action pay upon returning from leave.
Q: Can I do my regular duties if I wanted to, even though I won’t receive my regular University pay?
A: For the duration of the job action, you are expected to withhold your labour entirely from university-related work. If you think there is essential or critical work that you need to perform, then contact the Association for permission. Without permission from the Association, you may risk being identified as a strike-breaker and facing penalties (such as losing job action pay or receiving fines or having your image posted on social media, etc.).
Q: Can I access my University office during job action?
A: No. During a lockout, the employer will not permit you to enter the premises.
During a strike, you are not permitted to cross the picket line onto the employer’s premises without prior permission from the Association. You may face consequences as a result of crossing the picket line. You are strongly encouraged to remove any critical items from your office and back up your computer files on an external device prior to the start of any job action.
Q: I am an exempted Member, may I join the job action if I wish?
A: If you are identified as an exempted Member, you may participate in job action in a number of ways:
- You can support the picket line by walking in solidarity with picketers prior to and after crossing the picket line for your regular duties;
You can resign your position as an exempted Member for the duration of the job action and become a Member on lockout or strike. Contact the Job Action Committee for any assistance.
The Picket Line & Job Action Duties
Q: Do I have to participate in picket line duties?
A: Yes. Picket lines are one of the most effective symbols during job action and one of the ways in which all affected employees can work together in an effort to minimize the duration of the job action. The majority of the assigned duties during job action will be to support the picket line, although there may be other required duties that do not include picket line duties as assigned by the Job Action Committee.
Q: What are the consequences of not fulfilling assigned job action duties?
A: You will receive job action pay for completing assigned duties. If you do not check in for job action duties or if you do not perform the duties and have not arranged prior permission with the Job Action Committee, you will risk losing your job action pay or even receiving fines or other appropriate consequences.
Q: Can I request alternate assigned duties to perform other than picketing?
A: While it may be possible to request assigned alternate duties other than picketing, requests for such alternate assignments will be granted on a limited basis to ensure that the primary participation will be in picketing activity. Requests will be granted to you if you have a bona fide duty to accommodate matters (such as mobility and access issues) or if you are a primary caregiver or parent who is unable to meet the demands of the duty due to caregiver or family status. Requests for alternate assigned duties will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Job Action Committee. Requests will not be unreasonably denied. Alternate assignment of duties may include: managing phone and email communications with external groups, coordinating headquarters administration duties, coordinating volunteers, coordinating goods and services for volunteers, photocopying material for picket lines, or supporting financial administration.
Q: Can I appeal a decision if my request was denied for alternate assigned duties other than picketing?
A: Yes. The ULFA Executive will ultimately decide on any disputes over requests for alternate assigned duties.
Q: How long are picket line shifts?
A: A picket line shift is normally four hours in duration. There will be two shifts per day, a morning shift (8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) and an afternoon shift (12:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Please arrive before your scheduled start time and check in with the picket captain. Dress appropriately for weather conditions.
Q: What do I do if I want to participate in the picket line, but can’t stand/walk for a four-hour shift?
A: You are welcome to bring a chair or other support device with you to the picket line. You should also let the Job Action Committee and picket captain know of any supports you may need so they can make arrangements if possible.
Q: Will my photo be taken while participating in ULFA activities and/or job action related activities?
A: Yes, a picket line will take place in a public venue and your photo may be taken. There will be media coverage of job action and ULFA will be providing regular updates on its website and social media accounts.
Q: What do I do if I notice something bad happening on the picket line?
A: Your safety and the safety of others is paramount so you should never be in a situation in which you have to engage with aggressive individuals. If you notice an altercation or someone crossing the picket line, you are encouraged to speak to them in a calm and clear voice if it is safe to do so. You may use your cell phone or other recording device to capture the interaction or to provide evidence of the situation. Report to the picket captain as soon as possible.
Q: Can I bring my children with me to the picket line?
A: You may be able to bring children with you to the picket line during your off-duty hours but during assigned work hours, you will be expected to participate fully in the assigned work of any picket line duties. The Job Action Committee may be able to coordinate child-friendly activities for you and your child to engage in during picket line attendance. It is also important for you to consider any safety concerns that may arise on the picket line. While violence is explicitly not condoned, emotions can run high during job action and heated disputes may erupt in unpredictable ways.
Q: Is there a map showing the picket line location and the related amenities?
A: Yes. A map will be available on the ULFA website, at the job action headquarters, and on any material distributed to volunteers.
Q: Where is job action headquarters located?
Q: Where is parking for the picket line? Is there a cost for parking?
Q: Are there carpooling options to get to the picket line?
Q: What bus routes will get me to the picket line?
Q: Is there bicycle parking at the picket line?
Q: Where are the first aid stations located on the picket line?
Q: Where are the washrooms located on the picket line?
Relating to Job Action Pay
Q: Who is eligible to receive job action pay?
A: Members who were dues-paying members in good standing prior to the start of the job action and who participate in job action duties as assigned by the Job Action Committee are eligible to receive job action pay. Exempted members are not eligible for job action pay and will continue as regular employees of the University.
Q: How much is job action pay?
A: As members of the CAUT Defence Fund, all Members will receive $80 per calendar day ($80 x 7 days), regardless of if they are continuing, tenured, term, sessional, or on less than full time equivalencies. Job action pay is non-taxable and will be distributed to those who perform job action duties (such as picket duty or other equivalent work as assigned).
Q: How often will I receive job action pay?
A: Job action pay will be distributed by cheque every two weeks to those who are eligible.
Q: How many hours of job action duties are required in order to receive job action pay?
A: A shift will be an amount of time determined by the Job Action Committee and may depend on the assigned duties. Shifts will normally not last more than four (4) hours per day and five days per week, though exceptional circumstances may arise.
Q: What if I can’t make a shift, will I lose job action pay?
A: All attempts to accommodate schedule changes will be addressed by the Job Action Committee. Disputes will be addressed by the Executive. If you are unable to make up a missed shift, but you have made every effort to minimize your absence, you may be eligible to receive full job action pay; otherwise, you risk having your job action pay prorated.
Q: What job action duties will be assigned to me to receive job action pay?
A: The majority of assigned duties will comprise picketing and picket line support. Alternate assignment of duties may be requested and include: managing phone and email communications with external groups, coordinating headquarters administration duties, coordinating volunteers, coordinating goods and services for volunteers, photocopying material for picket lines, supporting financial administration.
Q: I am approved for a study leave but it is scheduled to start during job action. What does this mean?
A: Normally, members on study leave are not considered to be on job action. Your status as a Member may change such that you are no longer considered locked out or on strike and you may resume regular employment with the University, complete with pay and benefits. This status must be negotiated between the Association and the Board of Governors.
Q: I’m on a term contract. What happens to my job action pay if my contract ends during job action?
A: In the eyes of the Association, you may continue to receive job action pay as though your contract hadn’t terminated so long as you continue to perform assigned job action duties. Alternatively, you may withdraw from your job action duties upon the termination of your contract. Please communicate your intentions to the Job Action Committee.
Relating to Benefits of Employment:
Q: Can I access auxiliary services provided through the University of Lethbridge during job action?
A: In the event of job action, ULFA encourages all members not to support the University’s resources to maximally impact the withdrawal of your labour. If members absolutely must access the services provided by the university, they are able to do so outside of any work time assigned by the Job Action Committee.
ULFA considers recreational services to be services that a Member would engage in during times of leisure, such as the Fitness Centre, University Library, University Theatre productions, University Orchestra and music productions, Pronghorn athletic games, the campus Bookstore, programing provided through CASA, guest talks and lectures sponsored or provided by the University, the Lux Hotel, and the Zoo. ULFA encourages all members to withdraw their presence from these facilities during times of job actions.
Health and Wellbeing
ULFA considers health and wellbeing services to be services that a Member would access in order to maintain their personal health, such as the extended health benefits, dental care benefits, vision care benefits, Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), and Basic Life Insurance. During any job action, these benefits will continue without interruption. ULFA encourages all Members to maintain their use of these programs, and to contact the Association should they experience any difficulties accessing these programs.
ULFA considers auxiliary benefits to be programs provided by the University that are not related to a Member’s employment benefits, such as printing services, public services for health and wellness (such as physiotherapy, massage, etc.), parking, etc. ULFA encourages Members to withdraw the support for all University provided resources for the duration of the job action.
Q: What happens to my health benefits during job action?
A: All Members will continue to receive health benefits, whether the Association and the Board of Governors negotiate the continuation of these benefits or the Association covers the cost of the employer contributions to health benefits.
Q: What happens to my pension during job action?
A: Due to the cost-prohibitive reality of UAPP pension contributions, the Association is unable to cover the employer and employee portions of the pension contribution. Pension contributions will cease during job action. As part of the return-to-work protocol that is negotiated at the conclusion of job action, there may be an option for Members to buy back the foregone contributions or to simply resume contributions from the time the job action ends.
Q: What happens to automatic payroll deductions during job action, such as fitness centre memberships, donations to Save-Our-Students, or Lux Bucks?
A: Automatic payroll deductions cease. The Board of Governors and the Association will negotiate some aspects of this in a return-to-work protocol after job action ceases, which may include an option to automatically resume contributions to these services or may have an option to buy back any missed time if the Member so chooses.
Q: Is my spouse and dependents eligible to receive the tuition benefit during job action?
A: These tuition benefit programs are provided by the Faculty Handbook and as a result of job action, all rights and benefits will cease for the duration of the job action.
Q: Is my spouse and dependents eligible to receive the ULFA Academic Scholarship during job action?
A: The ULFA Academic Scholarship is a benefit provided exclusively by ULFA to its Members. This benefit will continue during any job action.
Q: Can I access my professional supplement during job action?
A: Your professional supplement is a benefit provided by the Faculty Handbook and as a result of job action, this benefit will cease for the duration of the job action. As part of the return-to-work protocol negotiated between the Board of Governors and ULFA, there may be an ability to submit expense claims for costs incurred during job action once regular work resumes.
Q: Am I still able to access provisions under the Faculty Handbook relating to Salary, Tenure, and Promotion processes, appeal processes, and accompaniment during job action?
A: All rights and privileges under the Faculty Handbook will cease for the duration of the job action.
Q: Will I be charged library fines that accrued during job action?
A: As part of the return-to-work protocol negotiated between the Board of Governors and ULFA, there may be agreement for waiving library fines incurred during job action.
Q: Will my place in the parking pass wait list be maintained while there is job action?
A: Parking is a service provided exclusively by the University and outside the Faculty Handbook. Unless parking waitlists are negotiated as part of a return-to-work protocol, the answer to this question is unknown at this time.