The spirit of collective bargaining is to equalize the power imbalance between employees and employers. Oftentimes, employers have more power than employees in the workplace which can be leveraged to seek concessions from employees. Employees can correct power imbalances by collectivizing and withdrawing labour through a strike. Doing so, employees show publicly the importance of their labour and the extent to which they are willing to sacrifice their own job security to avoid concessions and strengthen their collective agreements with their employer. It is in this spirit of collective bargaining that, the labour groups—University of Lethbridge Graduate Association (ULGA), AUPE Local 053, and University of Lethbridge Post-Doctoral Association (ULPA)—and student advocacy groups—Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and University of Lethbridge Students’ Union (ULSU)—on the University of Lethbridge campus pledge that their members will not participate in replacing striking and/or locked out employees. Specifically, we agree that our members will not fulfill the work duties of other employees on campus in the event that they strike and/ or are locked out.
In light of the strike-vote and thus, possible legal strike by ULFA members at the University of Lethbridge, we feel this pledge is necessary to ensure ULFA members can participate in the strike-vote and/or strike while knowing the other labour groups on campus will not undermine their current collective bargaining process with the Board of Governors at the University of Lethbridge. Moreover, we feel the reputation of the University would be weakened should our members replace striking and/or locked out employees. Students are paying increasing tuition costs, often alongside a reduction in university services. ULFA members are undoubtedly the most qualified individuals on campus for their positions. Replacing their labour with other groups on campus that are less qualified for the work ULFA members perform, would lower the quality of university services students receive. Certainly, students at the University of Lethbridge should expect the highest quality of education possible and that education must be provided by the members of ULFA.
The Labour Relations Code s.149(1)(f) specifically protects unionized workers against retribution from their employer if an employee refuses “…to perform all or some of the duties and responsibilities of another employee who is participating in a strike…”. Therefore, we will represent our members to the best of our ability, ensuring their rights as students and employees are upheld. They will not face retribution for declining to
replace employees if they are asked by the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors to replace striking and/or locked out members.
If any of our members are contacted to replace striking and/or locked out employees, we encourage them to reach out to their respective labour and/or advocacy group. For undergraduate students, that is the ULSU; for graduate students not engaging in academic employment (do not currently hold a GA or RA contract), that is the GSA; for academically employed graduate students (GA teaching, non-teaching, and RAs), that is ULGA; for post-doctoral fellows, that is ULPA; for non-academic staff that is AUPE local 053.
[Original document is available here.]