Update from Librarians’ UTFA Council Representatives

**This is from an email sent to librarians, members of UTFA by your Council Reps

“Hello all,

This morning’s Globe and Mail featured this article:  The Globe and Mail, April 20, 2014: “U of T faculty consider option to unionize,” by Caroline Alphonso:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/u-of-t-faculty-consider-option-to-unionize/article18073270/

Below you will find a letter explaining the current situation to UTFA members and a letter to UTFA and the President of the University, Meric Gertler, from Roger Martin [this email has been currently circulating widely in the community and was sent to the media on the weekend] that initiated this response from UTFA Council members representing their constituencies.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact your council representative or UTFA (contact information is provided in this email. The AGM, UTFA’s Annual General Meeting is this Wednesday at 3 pm. Please attend and let your voice be heard.  We will be mailing out details concerning the AGM shortly — don’t miss it!
Hello Members of UTFA Constituency #801 – Librarians

We thought it might be useful, to clarify what is happening in the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA), since we expect some of you might be worried about an impending certification drive. First, UTFA is NOT attempting to certify as a union (or at least not yet). Further, a certification process is not a snap process. Before UTFA can submit an application for certification to the Ontario Labor Relation Board, it must have more than 40% of ALL faculty and librarians at UofT sign a card that says they want to certify. That is in excess of 1,200 cards. A card drive would take months, not days, and UTFA has not taken any step to start one.

What has triggered Rotman’s petition is a document issued by a committee of three UTFA councilors, reporting on options for UTFA to pursue in case the ongoing Special Joint Advisory Committee (SJAC) process ends unsatisfactorily for UTFA. (The SJAC is a process created by the Administration and UTFA to address issues including (i) possible changes to appointments policies for both faculty streams; (ii) the role of faculty and librarians in academic planning; and (iii) review of the strengths, weaknesses and options for modernization of the Memorandum of Agreement prescribing UTFA’s role.) The report identifies union certification as the most effective way to pursue UTFA’s stated objectives.

This is not yet a decision to start a certification drive, for two reasons. First, the SJAC process is ongoing and progressing. Many of you will have received an email last Tuesday with a joint Provost-UTFA communication release stating:

“…Based on the discussion on April 12, the facilitator, the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, has recommended that the SJAC facilitation process should continue. This recommendation is based on his assessment that there is sufficient potential for UTFA and the University administration to reach agreement on SJAC issues….”

The Honourable Frank Iacobucci, who is acting as a facilitator between the parties, is optimistic about the possibility of a fruitful conclusion of the SJAC process and, very sensibly, is asking for the process to be given more time to succeed.

Second, UTFA Council would have to agree with the committee’s opinion and vote to start a certification drive. It is not obvious that this would happen (though it is certainly a possibility) even if the SJAC process derails.

Despite the animosity around the SJAC process, significant progress has been made on many issues. It would be a shame, in our opinion, if a premature confrontation on whether or not UTFA should certify were to have a negative effect on how the SJAC process unfolds.  We hope you will find this email helpful, and we would be happy to discuss further.

from your UTFA Council Representatives:  Sarah Fedko   sfedko@utsc.utoronto.ca / Shelley Hawrychuk  shelley.hawrychuk@utoronto.ca / Victoria Skelton   victoria.skelton@utoronto.ca

Contact UTFA at:  faculty@utfa.org OR 416-978-3351416-978-3351
Dear President Gertler:
I am writing to express in the strongest possible terms how outraged I am by UTFA’s decision to attempt certification.  UTFA does not represent anything related to me, nor, I suspect, does it represent the faculty of the Rotman School.

The notion of unionization of employees who make six figure salaries and have job security and protection of the sort enjoyed by professors is ridiculous on its face. It is really an insult to all real laborers who fought for the right to unionize and collectively bargain.  Those workers coped with subsistence wages, unsafe and inhumane work environments, and absolutely zero job security.  They didn’t have intellectually rewarding jobs in completely safe environments with lifetime job security. Collective bargaining was put in place to protect basic human rights, not to enable highly paid employees to argue for richer dental plans.

It is simply outrageous that that the ideologues who purport to represent us even raise the notion. They should be embarrassed. Sure they can say that it happens at other Universities in Canada. But when ever was that robust logic for doing something incredibly stupid and destructive?

We simply can’t let University of Toronto be ruled and ruined by ideologues.  This is a fight for the future of a great institution. UTFA, when not run by ideologues, works perfectly well and creates a positive dialogue with university administration and a pleasant work environment for the faculty.

My fond hope is that this gambit is defeated by the weight of faculty members across the University. Failing that, I believe that my colleagues at the Rotman School will disassociate themselves from the bargaining unit and refuse to be represented by a completely foreign force.  But in the end, if that can’t happen, it will be a sad day for me.  I can’t insult every brave union activist in history who fought for human rights for workers by accepting becoming a member of one of the cushiest unions on the planet. That is not the way to live a principled life.

Roger Martin
Premier’s Chair in Competitiveness and Productivity
Rotman School of Management
University of Toronto


This entry was posted in Academic freedom, Academic governance, Academic Librarianship, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, University of Toronto Libraries, UTFA, UTFA Council Reports, UTFA Librarian Committee Members, UTFA Librarian Council Reps. Bookmark the permalink.

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