URFA replies to President Timmons
author: john loeppky | editor-in-chief
Legal strike matter contentious
URFA received a letter from the President’s office on Mar. 23 challenging the legality of the strike notice provided last week. On Mar. 25, URFA sent a reply confirming what the Carillon had already found, that the strike notice was in good legal standing. Below is the body text of the letter from URFA President Sylvain Rheault to President Vianne Timmons.
I want to thank you for sharing with me your concerns about the legality of our strike notice. I can assure you that before sending to the administration such a serious notice, URFA carefully thought of ways to minimize the potential impact on our students (please, see our FAQs on our website).”
“We also consulted with our legal counsel to make sure that the timing of our notice was perfectly legal, as the Saskatchewan Employment Act does not state or imply that a strike notice must be de layed until the end of any cooling-0ff period. On the contrary, the time requirements in section 6-33(7) of the Saskatchewan Employment Act apply to the commencement of a strike, not the giving of notice.”
“We then double-checked the facts with Mr. Kenton Emery, who was appointed by the Minister of Labour to help us through the mediation process. He loo said that the liming of our strike notice was perfectly legal.”
“You will note as well that. instead of only the minimum 48 hours’ notice required by law. URFA decided to provide the strike notice six days ahead of time, to make sure academic staff and students had time to make arrangements in the unfortunate event that a strike does occur.”
“By making a baseless challenge to our notice, the administration creates confusion and might even push potential job action right into the beginning of the final exam period, something URFA was trying to avoid.”
I respectfully recommend that the administration acknowledge the validity of URFA’s strike notice and return to bargaining. All the students and the university staff, as well as the general public, are counting on us lo reach a fair agreement on March 25 and 26.
In response to queries surrounding the hiring of Public relations firm NATIONAL, Provost Tom Chase replied via email explaining, from the administration’s point of view, why the firm was hired.
“The University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) is the certified bargaining agent for the University of Regina’s Administrative, Professional, and Technical (APT) employees. Given that the University’s External Relations communications team is comprised almost entirely of APT employees, the University did not feel it was appropriate for APT employees to be involved in communications surrounding the collective bargaining process.”
“As I’m sure you can appreciate, the volume of work required to ensure thousands of students, their families, the campus community, partner institutions, and the wider community, are receiving timely updates is high. The University sought support from NATIONAL Public Relations to assist with this work; NATIONAL’s work is ongoing so it’s too early to determine final costs associated with the contract.”
Chase did not immediately answer questions related to where the funds would be coming from, nor how long the contract has run and will continue for. The Carillon will follow up.