The Honourable Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
Confederation Building, East Block
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6
President and Vice-Chancellor, Memorial University
Office of the President
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7
Dear Premier Furey and Dr. Timmons,
RE: FACULTY STRIKE AT MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY
Unifor stands in solidarity with faculty at Memorial University who are fighting for the future of the university and post-secondary education in the province. We urge you to return to the table and negotiate a fair deal so that professors and students can return to class.
MUN faculty are seeking to enhance transparency within the university administration by having a voice within the university’s governance structure. Unlike most universities in the country, academic staff members are not permitted to sit on the Board of Regents at Memorial University and have a limited ability to participate in the institution’s governance and decision-making processes.
Another issue at the heart of this dispute is job security – in particular, the over-reliance of contractual faculty at the university. This administration has expanded the amount of courses taught by contractual faculty and limited increases to permanent faculty positions. The university relies on a precarious workforce where faculty are strung along on four- or eight-month contracts, without knowing how their futures will shape up after their terms are finished. Yet, there are currently 100 open tenure-track positions across the university that the administration has reserved for administrative and non-teaching positions. How can the university justify this?
Unifor condemns this systematic erosion of stable work, which not only undermines the ability for faculty to meaningfully engage in teaching and research, but also threatens the quality of education for students at the university. As trade unionists, we know that precarious work at the university hurts faculty and students, but also hurts their families and communities.
Faculty at MUN should also be compensated fairly. These faculty members have not seen an increase in compensation since 2016 and fall well short of the average permanent faculty salaries among Canadian comprehensive universities. Measures to address compensation and precarious work are essential to addressing existing inequities and recognizing the contributions of faculty at the institution.
Memorial University has an opportunity to right the ship. The faculty are seeking fairness, respect, and a voice at the institution. They not only have the support of their staff peers and students at the university, but of the broader labour movement across Canada.
We urge you to return to the table immediately and negotiate a fair deal that addresses these crucial issues.
LANA PAYNE JENNIFER MURRAY
National President Atlantic Regional Director