Athabasca University (AU) and the Athabasca University Faculty Association (AUFA) met for further contract talks on January 31, 2022. Though there continues to be little progress at the table, the parties are in the process of scheduling further dates into February and March.
This week, the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) granted an exemption from the requirement for AU and AUFA to negotiate and conclude an essential services agreement. AUFA’s position at the ALRB was that there are no essential services performed by members of the AUFA bargaining unit. AU and the ALRB agreed.
An essential services agreement requires employees who perform essential services, as defined in the Labour Relations Code, to be available for work during labour disputes. Public post-secondary institutions are required to have either an essential services agreement or exemption in place before a strike or lockout may occur in relation to its academic staff.
As a result, AU and AUFA are not required to negotiate an essential services agreement before a mediator is appointed and before a strike or lockout may occur. While we continue to be hopeful that a deal can be reached at the bargaining table, and that the escalation to a strike or lockout isn’t necessary, we feel it is important to keep the AU community informed of updates as the negotiation process continues.