Rally Marks Lakehead Closure Dispute — LUFA members & their supporters marched on Lakehead University Dec. 21 to protest the administration’s decision to close the university down for four days & not pay anybody. [Photo: Scott Pound]
Hundreds of academic staff from Lakehead University staged a rally Dec. 21 to protest the administration’s decision to close the university, and not pay their faculty and staff, for four days in December.
The university administration announced early last year that both the Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses would be shut down from Dec. 21-24 as a cost-saving measure.
The Lakehead University Faculty Association says that by refusing to pay faculty and staff for the shutdown days, the administration has violated the terms of the collective agreement and imposed a lockout. The issue is before an arbitrator and hearings will continue in January and February.
“Lakehead’s administration — without a hint of consultation — is attempting to correct its financial mismanagement on the backs of employees,” said LUFA president Joey Farrell. “The administration’s actions will harm the reputation of the university and damage its ability to deliver a high-quality education.”
She said the university’s approach to fiscal issues will deliver negligible savings at the cost of poisoning the workplace and to the detriment of students denied access to libraries, learning resources and support services.
“The closure betrays an astonishing contempt for the students and faculty of Lakehead,” said Daphne Bonar, a LUFA rep for the Orillia campus.
The demonstration attracted academic staff from across the country displaying union emblems of support.
“The action taken by the administration at Lakehead is unprecedented in any Canadian university,” said CAUT executive director James Turk, who, along with CAUT vice-president Wayne Peters, was in Thunder Bay for the rally.
“The closure is a slap in the face to faculty, staff and students at Lakehead. The size and spirit of faculty and staff protest leaves little doubt the administration will be the loser as a result of its ill-considered and irresponsible action.”