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Letter: I was fired by Laurentian and I’m voting yes on the plan

While a group of terminated Laurentian University faculty are urging a ‘no’ vote on the Plan of Arrangement, the schools librarian emeritus says he’s voting ‘yes’
typewriter pexels-min-an-1448709 (From Pexels by Min An)

I am writing as one terminated Laurentian University faculty member to state I am not in agreement with the group that claims to represent all of us who strongly recommends a ‘no’ vote in the hopes of securing a better offer under the CCAA process. 

I am a terminated faculty member who has already voted ‘yes’.

I am also writing as a first chief negotiator who was part of a team that led to the adoption of the Laurentian University Faculty Association’s (LUFA) first collective agreement back in 1979-1980 and I subsequently served on a number of negotiating teams, all of whom led to successful agreements with the board of governors.

I say this because the Plan of Arrangement (POA) is not like other negotiations. In normal negotiations, the executive, including the chief negotiator, consults all members to formulate bargaining proposals and these are clearly communicated to the other side who also present theirs, and then they work out differences to secure agreement. 

The closest we get to this is LUFA’s (and the staff union’s) role in shaping the plan, and LUFA as well as the staff association are also recommending a ‘yes’ vote.

The terminated faculty group has no standing in any negotiations; furthermore, it has not consulted all terminated faculty. While it has several spokespeople, they have not let anyone know what changes to the proposal would get the group to vote ‘yes’. 

Is it a POA that pays out over two years instead of three? Is it a POA that guarantees claimants 25 per cent of what they are owed? Is it a POA that guarantees 100 per cent of what they are owed? Is it a POA that restores their jobs? I bet that the answers would vary according to individuals in that group.

What would voting ‘no’ get us? The hope is a better offer from Premier Doug Ford’s government, but from the perspective of those of us who have watched this process, and who have heard from Mr. (Jeff) Bangs, chair of the board and a PC insider, that there will be no increase to the offer. Personally, I am not prepared to gamble that he is wrong. To be sure in other CCAA proceedings, offers have increased, up to four times, according to the terminated group. But these have been private companies — not universities funded by the Ford government.

Look, I get it why a number of terminated faculty would vote ‘no’. Many have lost their livelihood and have little prospects elsewhere; others have no pensions to fall back on. One I know of has lost her home. Their anger is understandable.

But is the answer to act like Samson who felt betrayed by Delilah and got his revenge by pulling down the house?

Ashley Thomson
Librarian Emeritus
Laurentian University