On Monday, I contacted the president of AU, the executive director of AUFA, and the president of AUSU asking some questions about the possibility of a strike by the AU Faculty: questions about what it might mean, what their planned responses were, and what they thought the problems were that needed to be resolved to prevent the strike.
To date, the only substantive response has been from AUSU President, Brandon Simmons, who spoke with the other executives at their annual executive retreat that happens to be going on this week. He stated that the primary concern of AUSU was for the welfare of the students, of course, but indicated that AUSU was not currently suggesting that any one side is more at fault than the other and will continue to talk to both sides to remind them that their primary goals must be to serve the students.
However, he noted that this is also still early in the process, as negotiations remain ongoing and that “we don’t want students to be worried as we do not know what the outcome of negotiations will be. From what we have been told the earliest we could see a possible work stoppage would be June or July however there are still steps that need to be taken in the bargaining process.”
He also indicated that AUSU is not currently planning to take any extraordinary measures in anticipation of a work stoppage, such as increasing the amount of funds available in the AUSU emergency bursary, noting that AU has indicated that they will be taking whatever steps they can to accommodate the needs of students, and AUSU’s plan is to hold them to that.
Since those emails went out, there have been some developments in the issue, notably AU has stepped back from one of their stipulations that was generating a lot of social media buzz among the faculty: the provision that AUFA employees would be required to use an AU approved physician for any doctor’s notes for illness. AUFA has noted that there still remain a number of other problematic clauses that threaten to reduce the faculty’s power in the affairs of the university.
And while I have not yet received a substantive response from either AU or AUFA, AUFA executive director, Nick Dreidger, did inform me that he was passing the message on to someone more able to answer with the level of detail I asked for, which is fair. I will be working to keep students updated on what’s going on throughout this process. In the meantime, our feature article in this issue of The Voice Magazine is a look at the recent changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, and what the fallout may be for students currently studying in Ontario.