As reported in the past issues of Negotiating News, the MUNFA Negotiating Team is working hard in collective bargaining with the goal of having a fair and equitable Collective Agreement. However, if collective bargaining fails, MUNFA is pleased to report that at a meeting of Trustees on July 26, 2018 the CAUT Defence Fund voted unanimously to provide Strike Benefits to your Association in the event of a strike or lock-out. These benefits will be paid as a grant to the Association, to be used at MUNFA’s discretion, usually as strike pay (which is non-taxable) for individual union members. Strike benefits are currently set at $88 per calendar day, and Defence Fund payments start on the 4th calendar day of the strike or lock-out. Strike pay on the initial days of a strike will be provided by the MUNFA Strike Fund at the same daily rate. In addition, the Fund voted to provide MUNFA with 6-month interest-free loans to cover premiums for insured benefits, such as group life, disability and health, should they be disrupted by a strike or lock-out, and to extend a 6-month interest-free line of credit to help with strike expenses. The provision of such funds can also stimulate media coverage when the Fund provides a cheque for $1,000,000 and can signal to administrators the level of union support available.
The CAUT Defence Funddates from 1978, and its founding purpose was to provide unionized Canadian academic member unions with a unified strike fund. Formed of associations that are members of CAUT, it now includes 54 member unions representing over 25,000 academics from St. John’s to Victoria. The Fund’s assets have grown to $27.1 million in 2017. Given that the present situation and challenges facing universities in Canada often lead to labour disputes, and in some cases, job action, it is important that the Fund’s deep pockets help its members defend their interests, and thereby the interests of Academic Staff Members in general.