For a Forward-Looking University

On March 3, 2022, the Association of Professors and Librarians of Université Sainte-Anne (APPBUSA) began a legal strike. This regrettable situation has come about following a persistent impasse in collective bargaining. The union is proposing two ideas we see as essential for the continued development of our university: fair and equitable working conditions for professors and librarians, and a real and substantial improvement in relations between the administration and our members.

Since negotiations began in June 2021, the employer has categorically and systematically refused very nearly all of our association’s legitimate demands, an inexplicable attitude that has led us to this dead end. It is time to negotiate seriously. After conciliation ended on February 10, we invited the administration three times to return to the table, but our offers were either refused or made subject to inappropriate conditions.

However, as we all now work to emerge from the global pandemic, it is essential – it is urgent – that we conclude a forward-looking collective agreement, affirming Saint-Anne’s identity as a university of the future. Improvements to our collective agreement will foster recruitment of students and professors, creating conditions for building a more vigorous and robust institution.

The health of a university depends on administrative support for respectful relationships between and among the professors, librarians, students and support staff.  On this point, at Sainte-Anne, transformation is needed.

Is it normal to lack harmonious communication and interaction in an institution of our size, a university built on a human scale?

Yet, since the pandemic began two years ago, our administration has operated in a visibly authoritarian manner, ignoring collegiality – for example in hiring or renewal of administrators – and rarely consulting the university community on crucial issues such as pandemic health and safety, modes of course delivery (in-person, “hybrid” or online), student safety – or not – on campus, and the withdrawal of services. A recent example is the sudden and surprising decision to close the cafeteria, to the great displeasure of students caught off guard.

A refusal to communicate on one hand leads to mistrust and exasperation on the other, creating tension and stress. Is this really the “Sainte-Anne experience”?

Of what use is it to proclaim and claim that at Sainte-Anne we are a family, if so many members of this family – professors, students, support staff – are systematically excluded from major decision-making affecting us all? The publicity rings hollow, sounds false. It is paternalism bordering on contempt, taking us back decades.  

Professors and librarians want to contribute – as we already do, despite all obstacles – to the construction of a resolutely modern institution, capable of meeting the challenges of a post-pandemic world.

The Association of Professors and Librarians (APPBUSA) is ready to return to the negotiating table to study counter-proposals submitted by the administration. We can together negotiate a fair and equitable agreement. This is what is expected of a forward-looking university.