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Termination notices at Laurentian are going out April 12, union says

Notices being distributed the same week faculty are to vote on a new collective agreement
Laurentian20201Sized
Laurentian University. (File)

Laurentian University’s Faculty Association confirmed this morning that termination notices to those impacted by the struggling university’s restructuring plan are going out April 12.

Fabrice Colin, the president of the faculty association (LUFA), confirmed that the association was notified this week that termination notices to faculty will be sent on Monday.

A condition of the university’s restructuring plan is that a new labour agreement must be in place, Colin confirmed, though any details of the agreement or the job losses remains confidential under the terms of the CCAA process LU is going through now.

The contract between Laurentian and its faculty ended as of July 1, 2020. 

Members are voting to ratify the new contract on April 13, a day after termination notices are sent out.

The termination notices being sent out Monday are not just for faculty.** Staff members will also be receiving notices, states a notice from the Laurentian University Staff Union (LUSU) that was provided to Sudbury.com.

"It is our understanding that the administration will be issuing notice of termination on Monday," the message to staff from LUSU reads. "There will be individuals affected within all employee groups. Some of these terminations may also result in job changes, which may affect other employees."

On April 6, the Laurentian University senate voted on the restructuring package aimed at helping the school come out of insolvency. 

That plan does include program terminations and the reorganization of faculty and departments, but under the terms of the CCAA process, details of what was decided upon can’t be released.

The package was drafted by a six-person subcommittee of the senate that was formed Feb. 9, eight days after the university announced it is insolvent.

The discussion and debate that occurred April 6 surrounding the package, its contents or the outcome of the vote are all confidential under the terms of the CCAA imposed by the mediator overseeing the process

A source close to the situation told Sudbury.com the secrecy of the CCAA (Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act) process is unfortunate because the lack of transparency leaves the entire community in the dark as to what’s happening. 

The sentiment was echoed by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), which said in a news release that the mediation confidentiality protocol “precludes the academic community from participating in the meeting or knowing what their representatives voted on.”

Rahul Sapra, president of OCUFA, decried the secrecy and the process that, in his words, forced senators to vote on the proposal “under duress.”

 “It’s unacceptable that the university’s senators were asked to make significant decisions about the future of programs at their institution under duress with no time to properly consider the matter or consult their constituents,” Sapra said. 

“Academic programming decisions are complex matters that require deliberation and consultation. Asking the senate to consider and vote on an omnibus programming package, without input on the academic criteria and in the span of a single day during an in-camera session is a clear violation of collegial governance, senate’s mandate and the responsibility of a public institution to the community it serves.”

The CCAA period ends April 30, after which details of the restructuring are expected to be made public.

On Feb. 1, the university announced it had filed for creditors’ protection, saying it would be unable to meet its payroll by the end of the month after its lines of credit were suspended.

On Feb. 11, Ontario Superior Court Justice Geoffrey Morawetz endorsed the school’s CCAA filing, giving Laurentian the go-ahead to borrow $25 million in Debtor in Possession funding to allow it to cover its costs through April 30. 

The endorsement also extends the “stay period” until April 30 (meaning there can be no proceedings against the debtor organization, in this case Laurentian, while it plans how to get its house in order).

The order also gives LU the right to restructure its operations, and allows it to stop making payments to employees’ pension programs temporarily during the CCAA period and exempts it from replying to inquiries under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

**Story was updated with new information after the original publication.