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(2011-2012 HR#35) Important Next Steps in Academic Continuity Planning: re: Potential TA Strike

Date: February 9, 2012
To: PDAD&C; Professional & Managerial Staff
From: Angela Hildyard, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity; Cheryl Misak, Vice-President & Provost
Re: Important Next Steps in Academic Continuity Planning: re: Potential TA Strike

As you will know from earlier communications, while the University will try to reach a renewal collective agreement with CUPE 3902 Unit 1, we must make preparations to minimize the potential impact of a strike on students and preserve the integrity and continuity of programs and courses.

Chairs, directors, and single department faculty deans should ensure that they have reviewed HR #34 [http://www.hrandequity.utoronto.ca/about-hr-equity/news/2012/Memo_2011-12_HR34.htm], which was sent out earlier today. We are also attaching today’s message to students.

In addition we ask that you make sure that you collect, before February 22th, syllabi, exams, marks assigned to date, unmarked assignments, and marking schemes from all potentially affected courses, paying special attention to those courses taught by CUPE 3902 Unit 1 members. Note that at this time, members of CUPE 3902 Unit 1 cannot be asked if they plan to continue teaching in the event of a strike.

An appropriate communication is:

“As you know, CUPE 3902 Unit 1 is in a legal strike position as of Thursday February 23rd, 2012. In order to minimize the potential impact on our students and in order to preserve the academic integrity of our programs, we are asking that, if you have not already done so, you provide to your department chair or dean copies of your course syllabi, exams, marks assigned to date, unmarked assignments, marking schemes and the like. We thank you for your co-operation and assure you that the University has agreed to work with the mediator later this month and hopes to conclude a responsible agreement with CUPE 3902 Unit 1.”

Department heads may ask whether there is anything they can discuss with CUPE 3902 Unit 1 members pertaining to their potential actions. Department heads are free to express their views as long as the expression of such views does not constitute coercion, intimidation, threats, promises or undue influence, all of which are prohibited in this context by the Labour Relations Act. The right to strike is a legal right and by law no employee can be discriminated against, threatened or penalized for exercising that right.

If a CUPE 3902 Unit 1 member asks your views, you might say that the University remains committed to reaching an agreement. You might also say, if you are so inclined, that you do not believe a strike is necessary and that it would be unfortunate for our students. However, we recommend that you do not go further than that and that if you offer any further views of your own you should be careful to add that whether or not an individual CUPE 3902 Unit 1 member chooses to strike is entirely a personal decision. You should not ask individual CUPE 3902 Unit 1 members about their personal views regarding the strike or whether or not they voted for a strike. If a CUPE 3902 Unit 1 member asks whether or not he or she should go on strike, he or she should be informed that this is a personal decision.

If a CUPE 3902 Unit 1 member asks what happens if they want to continue working in the event of a strike, information can be provided in the following kind of way: if you voluntarily choose to continue to work, the University will continue to employ you in the course(s) or program(s) in which you were working prior to the strike. The wages and benefits applicable to such work will include the increases in the University’s offer at the time a strike commences.

If you are asked questions about strike related matters by an employee, provide only factual information. If you are in any way unsure of the appropriate response or the facts, please direct them to the university homepage where they can get access to further information. If this does not seem sufficient, you should consult with your dean’s office for further advice.

An Academic Continuity Planning Group, with representation from every division, has been working diligently on practical guidelines. The first set of these will be issued tomorrow, with more to follow as the landscape changes.