OPSEU Local 576
Response to
OCAD U Issues Statement on Library Reorganization

OPSEU Local 576 represents over 300 members under two collective agreements. The Union wishes to provide the OCAD U community and broader public some measure of counterpoint and context to the statement posted to the University website on May 14th regarding the rationale and processes concerning the library reorganization which resulted in the elimination of 6 union positions with 4 layoffs.

OCAD U Statement:

The new structure aligns with the decolonization approach by flattening hierarchies and promoting a peer-to-peer environment.

The administration could better embrace the institutional vision and mission by directly integrating stakeholders into the decision making apparatus with the inclusion of union staff representation on the Financial Sustainability Working Group which mandated and approved the library reorganization.

OPSEU Local 576 makes no claim as to what best represents a “decolonization approach”, but notes that it is a poor top-level rationale for terminating four people with over 70 years of combined institutional service and experience. Further, it would seem a rather selective and reductive interpretation of the term ‘decolonization,’ and more likely a gross misappropriation.

OCAD U Statement:

...we in no way minimize the impact of the changes on Library staff… OCAD U will continue to support the four individuals impacted by the reorganization through the transition process, with OPSEU Local 576, Unit 1

To date, the administration has not used the word “layoff” in any communication to the university community or broader public. The administration can better recognize the impact to the library and broader OCAD U community by taking ownership of their actions, and use the same terms as those articulated in the CBA.

OCAD U Statement:

The reorganization will also expand the Library’s capacity to support students and faculty across the University in all programs, as well as within Graduate Studies.

When the University Librarian was asked directly by the union on how the library will continue to fulfill its present operational requirements with fewer staff in a department with ongoing workload concerns, the University Librarian stated that there are services the library will no longer provide. OPSEU Local 576 and the university community have yet to see a list of the services to be cut.

OCAD U Statement:

...the Library staff and its structure, or decisions regarding its reorganization, are the purview of OCAD U’s administration and Board of Governors, respectively.

The library lies at a nexus between administrative and pedagogical functions, curricular support, and community service. The University Librarian is an Ex-Officio member of the University Senate owing to the importance of the library to faculty and students. Between that Senate role and briefings provided to Senate on this matter and in the past, it is clear that the operational mandate of the library is defined jointly by both the academic and administrative bodies of the university.

OCAD U Statement:

The University followed the process normally undertaken for the reorganization of a unit.

This is exactly the problem. The administration needs to change their processes to better align with the stated values and mission of the institution as well as the articles in the CBA shared with OPSEU Local 576.

OCAD U Statement:

...solicited feedback and input from faculty, students and staff through an OCAD University-wide survey on how they use the Library collections and services, pre-pandemic and at present;

The purpose of the survey was not clearly communicated. Many thought they were being solicited to offer feedback with respect to the library’s service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not clearly stated that survey responses would form the basis of the library’s operational requirements going forward.

OCAD U Statement:

  • engaged with OPSEU Local 576, Unit 1 throughout the review;

  • held several meetings with the Interim University Librarian and Library staff, and Human Resources joined a Library department meeting on April 1, 2021 to provide context and planned timing for decisions on the Library reorganization;

In both cases, the ‘engagement’ and meetings were limited to notifying staff and union representation that the library had been identified for review and reorganization. The only details about forthcoming changes provided by the administration were timelines for further notification and announcement.

Notification is not engagement: No substantive consultation or input from OPSEU Local 576 pertaining to the reorganization was sought by the University Librarian or administration. The union was only presented with a new organizational structure diagram the day before staff received layoff notices.

OCAD U Statement:

...complied with the processes outlined in the collective agreement in providing notice to the four impacted individuals;

The administration is selectively choosing which parts of the agreement to honour, which to ignore, and which to directly contravene. While they have followed the letter of the agreement with respect to notice, they have violated it with respect to articles in the very same section of the document pertaining to layoff.


As alluded to in the union's statements to the university board of governors on May 10, 2021: Our union local understands and recognizes management’s rights to change the structure and composition of the administrative staff at OCAD University--and that indeed sometimes business requirements may mandate staffing changes that include the possibility of layoff.

What the members of OPSEU Local 576 expect and demand is that the OCAD University administration exercise their management rights in accordance with the contractually mandated responsibilities articulated in the collective agreement. The administration has failed in this regard, and the university board of governors has yet to hold them to account.

Finally, OPSEU Local 576 hope that the administration would honour the shared agreement more broadly, along with the vision and mission of the university by involving our labour group and others in decision making bodies and processes to help address the challenges we face together, and “...to recognize the mutual value of joint discussion in all matters pertaining to working conditions and employment, to further the purposes and objectives of the University in a spirit of cooperation and understanding, to encourage efficiency in operations, and to promote the morale, well-being, integrity and security of all employees.”