Laurentian faculty association recommends yes vote on plan of arrangement

The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) has recommended its members vote yes on the Sudbury, Ont., university’s proposed plan of arrangement.

A committee representing terminated faculty members recommends a 'no' vote

Laurentian University's creditors will vote on a plan of arrangement on Sept. 14. The plan is the last step for the university to exit its insolvency proceedings. (Yvon Theriault/Radio Canada)

The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) has recommended its members vote yes on the university's proposed plan of arrangement.

The plan of arrangement is the final step for the Sudbury, Ont., university to exit its insolvency proceedings under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

The plan sets out the terms between Laurentian and its creditors, and outlines the steps it will need to take to rebuild as it exits its insolvency proceedings.

In a letter to its members, the faculty association said it has made some "substantial gains" on a number of issues that would come to fruition if the plan of arrangement moves ahead.

"These gains are substantial and we believe they are the best we could hope for given the severe restrictions of the CCAA," the letter said.

We cannot go back to two years and we cannot change what happened.- Louis Durand, LUFA vice-president

Those gains include priority treatment for vacation pay claims, meaning members impacted by the university's insolvency would get full payment of their vacation pay claims once the plan of arrangement comes into effect.

The faculty association said it also negotiated the appointment of three new faculty positions "with a view to adding up to three tenure track appointments in 2023, with the understanding that LUFA will continue to advocate for increased complement."

In April 2021, Laurentian cut 69 programs and fired more than 100 faculty members. 

Louis Durand, the faculty association's vice-president, said another 20 faculty members have left Laurentian since that time due to retirements and attrition. 

Durand said he believes the proposed plan of arrangement is "as good as it gets" because there are a lot of uncertainties for the university as it exits insolvency proceedings. 

"We cannot go back to two years and we cannot change what happened," he said.

"But we were able to improve the vacation payment and the delay for receiving the money for the terminated members."

In addition to those gains, LUFA said Laurentian also made a commitment to request that the provincial government pass a legislative amendment to allow faculty members on the university's board of governors. 

For the plan of arrangement to pass a majority of affected creditors, representing two-thirds of the total dollar value of proven claims, must vote in favour of it.

Terminated faculty committee says vote 'no'

Laurentian's terminated faculty members are also claimants who can vote on the plan.

A letter from the Terminated Faculty Committee recommended they vote against the plan of arrangement. 

"The proposed plan is not only unfair when it comes to money, it is anti-collegial in what it aims  for the future of Laurentian," the letter said.

"The plan would fundamentally change what it means to be a faculty  member, it would strip what little remains of collegial governance, and set back working  conditions by generations."

The letter also said the "threat" that Laurentian would be liquidated — closing its operations and selling all of its assets — if the plan fails was an empty one.

"In past CCAA  cases, a vote against the plan simply sends all the parties back to the negotiating table to  come up with a better plan," the letter said. "In some cases, CCAA insolvency plans have gone through as many  as four revisions. "

Laurentian's creditors will vote on the plan of arrangement on Sept. 14.

With files from Kate Rutherford


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