The substantial cuts to postsecondary education in Alberta have exposed and intensified numerous challenges faced by faculty, staff, and students. As a result of the layoffs of over 100 U of L employees and unfilled positions following retirements and attrition, many at the U of L are experiencing burnout and overwhelming workloads. The effects of these cuts can already be seen. U of L has dropped in its MacLeans ranking as the #2 primarily undergraduate university in Canada to #6 from 2020 – 2021.
The university administration has consistently praised our faculty’s hard work that has sustained the U of L throughout the pandemic. Despite this, the Board continues to insist upon a -4% wage rollback, retroactive to July 2020, even as other public sector unions begin to reach settlements as high as +3% and there is evidence that the Government has changed its mandate to the Colleges and Universities. The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) members are already paid 10-15% less than faculty at comparator universities.
We are concerned about the negative effects this will have on our community, faculty recruitment and retention, and student learning and experience. Larger class sizes mean higher faculty workloads, less time for direct one-on-one interactions between faculty and students, and less time for research, which is a central part of this university’s mission. These same issues negatively impact mental health, which is a growing concern among all members of the university community. Faculty working conditions need to be addressed to improve student learning conditions at the university.
ULFA cares deeply about the issues affecting faculty and students and is currently working hard to negotiate a fair collective agreement. We are seeking a fair settlement that addresses salary and workload inequities, protection of academic freedom, collegial governance, and provides for a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse workplace. The U of L administration must step forward and make investments that support our university.
Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. That is why it is critical that the U of L administration address the concerns of ULFA and work alongside us to fight against damaging cuts to the postsecondary sector.
We must put pressure on the U of L administration and Board of Governors and remind them that faculty members and the students we teach should be their first priority. Send the email below to the University President and senior leadership and ask them to negotiate a fair deal that prioritizes high-quality education and helps us avoid job action at U of L.
#ouruniversity is #worthfightingfor.