In a historic first, members of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike action in labour negotiations with the University’s Board of Governors.
The Membership voted 92% in favour of strike with an 87% participation rate. This was the first strike vote by faculty in the history of the University of Lethbridge.
The vote was held February 3 and 4 using an online ballot. The Alberta Labour Relations Board released the official tally Monday morning, February 7.
The vote came after nearly two years of inconclusive negotiations and two months of mediation, the union said. ULFA members have been without a contract since July 1, 2020.
“This is an extremely strong vote of confidence in our negotiating team,” said ULFA President Dan O’Donnell. “Our members are seeking equity, parity, and above all, respect from the Board. Over the last decade, our members have stepped up time and time again for our students and the university, only to see the Board give us fewer and fewer resources. Our members have already given enough; they realise that it is time to stand up for the respect that they and our students deserve.”
Chief Bargainer Locke Spencer adds that the issues involve working conditions and money. “The main issues are improved benefits and support for our most vulnerable members, restoring collegial governance and respect, and reversing years of economic decline,” he said. University of Lethbridge Faculty members earn up to 17% less than faculty at comparable universities.
ULFA can now call on its members to begin a strike with 72 hours notice. The union says that it has filed the notice to strike, with pickets scheduled to begin Thursday morning at 11am, unless the two sides are able to reach a settlement before then.
“With this vote, we hope the Board will return to the table with a new attitude and work with us to find a fair settlement,” O’Donnell said. “The ULFA negotiating team is ready to find a way out of this impasse and we encourage the Board to treat this message from their employees seriously.”
The Faculty Association’s Negotiating Team held two meetings with the Board of Governors’ negotiating team on February 1 and 4. It has another meeting scheduled for Monday February 7.
“We remain optimistic that the remaining issues can be resolved through negotiations,” Spencer said.