Daily roundup of questions
This is the first in a series of daily roundups of questions raised by members as we approach the strike deadline. For each issue, I am providing the question and any answers we might have. For issues that don’t get cleared up in a day, you can expect follow-ups in subsequent round-ups. The same information may also appear in other updates from AUNBT such as FAQs, bulletins and fact sheets.
1. If a CAE and a FT member co-teach a course, what happens during a strike? I put this question to Peter McDougall. He informed me that no decisions had been made with regard to either courses taught entirely by CAEs or with regard to co-taught courses. He promised to advise me once a decision had been made, but indicated that this may be after the passing of the strike deadline. I will let you know as soon as I know more. For more information about CAE impact more generally, you will have received an update from the VP CAE, Wendy Bourque. Any follow-up questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Have either negotiating team considered a guaranteed complement increase over some period, rather than economic adjustment for existing members? I responded that complement planning was outright rejected by the administration.
3. Quite apart from the economic adjustment, has the administration budged on anything that smacks of comparability? No.
4. Will not increased economic adjustment ensure that UNB can hire fewer people in the future, leading to increased workload and a diminution of the very quality we are trying to preserve? Taking below average increases has led to the loss of nearly 50 faculty positions and the hire of over 80 administrators, so the past track record of taking low wages for hopes of higher complement is very poor indeed. And a quid pro quo of the kind the question implies: more positions for less money, there are at least two obstacles: one, the admin won’t agree to it, even the modest commitment of money saved from leaves for replacement positions was rejected outright and two, we are not even now competitive hiring in many disciplines.
5. What happens if someone decides that they do not want to deny their services to the students and comes in to teach? In every strike there are a few people who put the collectivity at risk by crossing the picket line. Unions respond to these folks in different ways, but it is invariably the case that the greatest long-term impact on morale comes from the broken relationships that crossing the picket line incurs. Unless the employer imposes a lock-out or closes the university, the employer may decide to continue their pay, but if we see a lot of that (or, more to the point, if the employer sees a lot of that) it will prolong the strike. The longer the picket line, the shorter the strike is an old and pretty reliable rule of thumb in the labour movement. It is important to impress on your colleagues that while the choice remains theirs as long as there is no lockout or closure, they will aggravate the impact of the strike on students and colleagues alike by crossing the picket line.
6. I am a CAE and I do not want to cross the picket line. What should I do? (This question wins the day’s most frequent question award!) We are deeply grateful to our CAE colleagues for the concern they have expressed for collegiality and solidarity. It speaks to the fundamental rightness of the decision to extend AUNBT membership to CAE colleagues. Thank you! That said, as long as the university stays open and your course is “on”, you are legally required to perform the regular duties of your job as the CAE unit is not in a legal strike position. Some ideas to express your solidarity: Come out and solidarity picket when you are not teaching. Go to work five minutes early and check in with the picket captain and colleagues on the line. Visit us in strike headquarters.
7. Will my UNB-based cell phone work during the strike? Yes, cell service will work, but on a smartphone, your UNB email will not work. (In fact, all your UNB services that require signing in won’t work).
8. I am not in the bargaining unit. Will the employer cut off my email? We do not represent you if you are not in the bargaining unit. You should contact the administration directly.
9. Is any work going forward on the conversion of the pension plan? Yes, and it is proceeding apace. A separate update will come once the work has been completed.
10. I am on sabbatical and outraged by the news about benefits and pay. Should I contact the employer directly? Who should I contact? Peter McDougall has been identified as the contact person. Feel free to contact him directly.
11. I am working on research abroad/am on sabbatical abroad. What should I do? Although we are working to resolve the health insurance issue, it would be wise to make contingency arrangements for health insurance. We will provide strike pay to sabbaticants.
12. I live on campus. Will they change the locks or keep me from going on campus? The administration has indicated that they will deal with these issues on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Peter McDougall directly or contact me and I will do it for you. So far, assurances have been given to some members and we are not aware of any denials. Please let me know immediately if there is a problem or assurances are withheld.
AUNBT Job-action Information