URFA reaffiliates with Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

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How does this affect ME Morgan Ortman

Faculty Association disaffiliated in 2019

On September 29, the University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) issued a press release through their website stating that they are re-affiliating with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL). The press release mentioned that through this renewed affiliation, URFA members will be able to access education and training opportunities, resources, and also be a part of the broader labour movement in the province. No mention was made of why this affiliation had temporarily been suspended, for how long, and why the decision to re-affiliate was made.

As mentioned on their website, the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association is also affiliated with the SFL. Further, websites of similar associations in other universities in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia indicate that they are also affiliated with their corresponding provincial federations of labour. We wanted to find out why URFA was not affiliated in the past for some time, and what prompted the decision to enter an affiliation once more. We reached out to Ellen Paulley, Communications Officer with URFA, with some questions about the SFL, as well as questions about the current challenges and priorities for the association.

Is it common for faculty associations across Canadian schools in other provinces to be affiliated with the provincial federations of labour?

I would recommend connecting with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and/or Canadian Labour Congress for more information about faculty associations and affiliations with provincial federations of labour.

Note that as mentioned, a number of other associations, including the U of S, are in fact affiliated with the appropriate bodies in their province.

How long has it been since URFA was last affiliated with the SFL?

Since 2019.

Why was the past affiliation not continued, and what led to current re-affiliation?

URFA’s purpose of promoting solidarity with the labour movement aligns well with that of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, which strives to improve working conditions for social and economic justice for all. By rejoining the SFL, URFA members will gain access to education and training programs offered by the organization; have a representative on SFL’s Executive Council, and have access to SFL and affiliated-organization resources for support should job action or lock out occur.  Together with other affiliates and members of the SFL, URFA is pleased to be part of the collective voice of workers in the province. The 2019 URFA Executive Committee had made the decision to temporarily suspend payment of member dues for the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour.

What are the most important priorities for URFA to currently pursue? How will the affiliation with SFL help these priorities?

URFA’s priorities are guided by our 2021-2026 Strategic Plan. The activities we undertake are designed to support our vision, mission, values and strategic directives. Our vision is that URFA members are diverse, engaged, and secure in their employment and physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. In an environment of academic freedom, freedom of expression, collegiality and respect, they drive a culture of teaching, research, and community engagement that makes the world a better place. 

How does URFA feel about the way the current semester and the gradual re-opening of campus is working?

URFA is monitoring the evolving return to campuses. We are listening to URFA members about their experiences and are committed to advocating for safe, healthy and secure working and teaching conditions for URFA members.

What is on the URFA agenda as we approach the Winter 2022 semester and possibly a more substantial return to campus?

The health and safety of URFA members and the Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, Luther College, and University of Regina students and communities is of the utmost importance to URFA. As we explore a potential more widespread return to the campuses, URFA emphasizes the importance of a safe campus environment.  We call on the University of Regina and the federated colleges to ensure that any faculty and staff will not be required to return to work if they feel unsafe. URFA expects that the University of Regina and the federated colleges will process any faculty or administrative, professional or technical staff member requests for workplace accommodations according to the provisions outlined in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

URFA members’ working and teaching environment is the learning environment for students at the University of Regina. We’d like to share with the students that URFA is also preparing to enter negotiations for three of our bargaining units, whose collective agreements have expired this year. The bargaining units include First Nations University of Canada Administrative, Professional and Technical members; University of Regina Academic members; and University of Regina Administrative, Professional and Technical members. 

Anything else you feel the student body should know?

URFA recognizes that the working, teaching and learning environments for staff, faculty and students are interconnected. We support a healthy, safe and encouraging work and learning environment for everyone at Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, Luther College and the University of Regina. As the next generation of innovators, creators and scholars, students have the power and potential to shape the world into a better place. We can’t wait to see what our students achieve! 

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