Bargaining update

As Valentine’s Day approaches, AUFA is busy making cards and rhymes to be shared widely by AUFA members via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The screenshot below is of a recently shared e-card that was privately directed at AU’s bargaining team, a group primarily comprised of professional women, who have come a long way from the days where it was okay to call women who sit across the bargaining table from you “sweetie.”

The pink card with cake and candles, in AUFA’s mind, shouldn’t be troubling because it is all in fun; part of their strategy to discredit and embarrass AU and AU team members as AUFA actively plans to strike. Some might say, “Well okay AU, the card is a light-hearted message from AUFA. No harm done, right?” Here is why we think and feel differently about these tactics.

First, there is the not-so-little issue of sexism in AUFA’s Valentine’s Day cards, which are directed at AU’s bargaining co-chairs who are both women. Sexist taunts aren’t the way of our university and frankly are beneath an institution committed to higher learning.

We challenge those who may still think it’s okay in a professional setting to call women “sweetie” and use sexist language to make others feel powerless or demeaned.

Second, we take bargaining seriously and are at the table to achieve an agreement. However, if there is a strike, the fact is that lives will be disrupted. Contingency plans can only go so far. This is not a time to be creating sweetie tweets and clever click bait to malign AU and AU team members. Both parties need to be committed to the bargaining process.

Further, some might feel that the holiday cards AUFA sent in December directly to the home addresses of those on AU’s bargaining committee and the interim president shouldn’t be a bother, and are just creative ways to get attention. Again, we feel differently about this tactic.

AU filed an unfair labour practice (ULP) complaint against AUFA because, as we argued, AUFA violated section 60 of the Labour Code and its duty to bargain in good faith. We hold by our view that the cards were sent to home addresses as an intimidation tactic of key members of the university’s bargaining committee, and by extension their families. While this tactic was downplayed by AUFA, this is not something to minimize or deflect. AUFA sought to unlawfully influence our current round of collective bargaining through tactics of intimidation. The personal addresses of the committee members concerned are not available in the public domain and are certainly not authorized for AUFA’s use. Please read AU’s ULP complaint in full to understand AU’s rationale, and why we press for principled, values-based bargaining, and lawful tactics.

AUFA continues to publish inaccurate portrayals of our proposal and our intentions. We have tried to impress on AUFA the need for everyone at AU to think sustainably as we bargain. It is critical that we balance AU’s interests in ensuring the long-term health of the university for its diverse communities with addressing the interests of our team members. We recognize that a labour disruption would present added challenges, as well as disrupt our learners, team members, and communities, and that is why we take the matter of bargaining seriously and reject behaving in a trivializing, demeaning manner.