Bargaining update: ratification and strike vote


As we previously communicated, the mediator appointed to assist the university and AUFA as part of the bargaining process issued a report on March 24, 2022, containing recommended terms of settlement of a collective agreement. AUFA members voted on that recommendation by the mediator on March 29, 2022. AUFA has advised that 77% of AUFA members who voted rejected the mediator’s recommendations.

The mediator’s recommendations represented compromises made by both the university and AUFA, and were generated following many days of hard work by the mediator and both parties. The recommendations included recommended wage increases that were consistent with what has been achieved for other institutions in the province in this round of bargaining, such as at the University of Lethbridge.

Neither party was completely happy with the compromises in the mediator’s recommendations. For the university, it was understood that compromises made were those required to avoid a work stoppage, and the uncertainty that follows.

It is our understanding that AUFA members were told that a ‘no’ vote to the mediator’s recommendations amounted to a vote to find a better deal. We are disappointed to hear that this was the message communicated. This messaging is incongruent with the hours of work, difficult conversations, and compromises that lead to the mediator’s recommendations.

As has been the case since bargaining began, the university remains committed to a negotiated compromise to bargaining and would prefer to achieve that without the difficulty a work stoppage, like a strike, would bring.

With its rejection of the mediator’s recommendation, AUFA has also reapplied for a strike vote, which is scheduled to take place on April 4, 2022. If the vote proceeds as scheduled, voting would take place online over a 12-hour period. It is important that AUFA team members participate in this vote, as they did for the ratification vote. If AUFA receives the necessary support for a strike, then it has the power to initiate a strike on a minimum of 72-hours’ notice. A main concern for the university is avoiding any misunderstandings around the purpose of Monday’s strike vote.

A vote to strike is indeed a vote to strike. It is not a vote to find a better deal.

As we have communicated, if it becomes necessary, we will take steps to reduce the impact of any work stoppage on our learners, and more information about that will be coming shortly.

We regret that we all face this uncertainty. It is our hope that together we can come to a common understanding of what will work best for everyone involved.


Charlene Polege
Chief Human Resources Officer
Athabasca University