April Update

It has been a difficult few weeks for APSA since my last newsletter message. As outlined by our Executive Director, Andrew Boden, in his April 5th message, the APSA Board has rejected signing up to the University’s voluntary resignation scheme based on the current terms and suggested improvements that would be needed in order for us to reconsider. Unfortunately, SFU was unwilling to make any significant enhancements or even match the terms we have in our policy documents for involuntary redundancies at this time.

I wanted to share with you some of the concerns the board had about this program. Firstly, the program, in its current form, provides no assurances that those who volunteer would even be approved to participate, yet their supervisor would still be notified that they volunteered. These separations would be coded as resignations and not layoffs, so those participating would not be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). There is no provision for bridging to retirement. Benefits would not be covered for the severance period, and any parental leave top-ups would still need to be paid back. Volunteering would not necessarily save any other positions. Any member approved to participate in the program that would have been laid off regardless would not receive the significantly healthier conditions that they would if they waited out to be made involuntary redundant (x1 months for every year of service up to 18 months vs. up to 12 months under the voluntary program).

We did not receive sufficient information from the University to make this decision since APSA has received no listing of intended positions up for elimination nor any indication of how many members will be affected — though it was finally confirmed that Uniforum is one of the datasets being used by the University to make decisions of position eliminations. Whilst I appreciate the rollout of this voluntary separation program may be appealing to a handful of members, specifically those who were already thinking of leaving SFU and who are not on the University’s mandatory layoff list, I believe it is not in the interests of APSA and the overwhelming majority of our members to support this program in its current form.

In other APSA news, Phil Cunningham has stepped down from the APSA board. Phil has been a strong advocate for APSA members for some time, and I would like to express my sincere appreciation for everything he has contributed to our association. As per section 7J of APSA by-laws, the board moved to appoint Jeff Bryer to fill Phil’s director vacancy until the AGM in the fall and the next slate of elections. Jeff has volunteered for APSA for over 20 years, is a former APSA president, current Pension Advisory Committee chair and is part of our basic agreement negotiation team. Given the current situation on campus, we are very pleased to have someone with Jeff’s experience and institutional knowledge on the board in these precarious times. You may have also seen that our Senior Labour Relations Officer, Angela Vass, has moved on to new pastures. Angela will be missed tremendously, and we wish her all the very best in her new, exciting position at the BC Nurses Union.

Finally, as you will see in this month’s news bulletin, we are seeking volunteers for the APSA Advocacy Committee (one committee member was recently laid off). Advocacy is more important than ever as we brace ourselves for the upcoming layoffs that will require as many hands on deck as possible. Training will also be provided to APSA volunteers, and we’re looking into temporary staffing support so that we can provide robust representation to as many laid-off staff as possible. APSA simply does not have the capacity to deal with the number of position eliminations that are being rumoured in such a short space of time (maybe even on a single day), and so we are working hard to ensure we are as prepared as possible when the inevitable happens. As you can appreciate, our main priority at this time is now around job losses and the associated advocacy that entails. Please reach out to one of our staff if you have pressing advocacy concerns. If you are interested in volunteering as an APSA advocate, please apply here.

Thank you,