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The CAUT Defence Fund dates from 1978, and its founding purpose was to provide unionized Canadian academic member unions with a unified strike fund. Formed of associations that are members of CAUT, it now includes 54 member unions representing over 25 000 academics from St. John’s to Victoria.

Since 1992 the Defence Fund has been incorporated under the laws of Canada. Each member union appoints a Trustee (associations with more than 500 members appoint a second Trustee, and those with more than 1,000, a third) and some CAUT officers are ex-officio members of the Board of Trustees, which meets in person at least once a year to oversee the management of the Fund.

Trustees play two roles. They have fiduciary responsibilities to ensure that monies are used solely to meet the objectives and purposes of the Fund. Secondly, they represent the views and interests of their own union.

The Fund’s resources come from two sources: member unions’ dues and the interest which the Fund earns from its invested assets.

The Fund’s assets grew to $1 million in the mid-1980s and to $27.1 million in 2017. Given that the present situation and challenges facing universities in Canada often lead to labour disputes, and in some cases to threats of strike, it is important to give the Fund deep pockets to help its members defend their interests, and thereby the interests of faculty and librarians in general.

What are the purposes of the Caut Defence Fund?

The PRIMARY PURPOSE of the Defence Fund is to provide strike benefits to associations while its members are engaged in a strike or lock-out and experiencing loss of salary. These benefits are paid as a grant to the association, to be used at the local union’s discretion, usually as strike pay (which is non-taxable) for individual union members. Strike benefits are currently set at $88 per calendar day, and payments start on the 4th calendar day of the strike or lock-out. Benefits are calculated based on annually reported membership numbers (please contact the Fund Secretary at defencefund@caut.ca for details) using the number of persons for whom monthly dues have been paid.

In addition, the Defence Fund:

  • provides financial assistance to member unions which incur costs of mediation and/or interest arbitration in settlement of contract negotiations (including final offer selection) in situations where a member union has legal bargaining rights and where a collective agreement, or a reopener provision within a collective agreement, is being negotiated or renegotiated;
  • provides financial assistance to member unions which incur costs in prosecuting employer actions alleged to be unfair labour practices or failures to bargain in good faith, and in support of applications for legal remedies against certain types of employer action that might otherwise lead to strikes;
  • provides assistance to defend the interests of those member unions whose collective bargaining and/or strike rights are removed or restricted by legislation;
  • provides financial assistance to aid member unions engaged in strike or lock-out, such as:
    • supporting mediation or similar mechanisms for settling strikes,
    • providing 6-month interest-free loans to cover premiums for insured benefits, such as group life, disability and health, should they be disrupted by a strike or lock-out,
    • extending 6-month interest-free lines of credit to help with strike expenses. The provision of such funds can also create media coverage, as occurred in the 1995 University of Manitoba strike (and later in subsequent strikes) when the Fund provided a cheque for $1,000,000 which created beneficial media coverage and signaled to administrators the level of support the union had;
  • lobbies on behalf of (and at the request of) associations on strike or lock-out by writing letters and making phone calls to boards of governors, university presidents, administrators, and local politicians. Such activities can serve an important purpose as part of an integrated media and communications strategy, as they usually generate enhanced media coverage, including national coverage;
  • sends visitors from member unions to demonstrate in support of a member union
  • sends visitors from member unions to demonstrate in support of a member union on strike. Since the 1995 faculty strike at the University of Manitoba, the Fund has organized local and national solidarity visits. Within the first week of a strike or lockout, representatives from other faculty unions travel on a given day to the strike or lock-out site, with subsequent visits if the strike continues. They join striking faculty on the picket lines and bring their striking colleagues psychological (and usually financial) support, which provides to them a sense of national unity and increases morale. These support visits display publicly the national solidarity of the university teachers and librarians represented by the faculty unions currently members of the Fund.

How much does it cost to join the Defence Fund?

A faculty union is expected to contribute to the financial assets of the Fund in two ways:

  1. During the first year of membership, a union is required to pay a $30 initiation fee for every dues-paying member in its bargaining unit or units. The initiation fee is reduced to $20 for unions which join the Fund within one year of becoming certified. Such initiation fees can be are paid out all at once or in equal monthly installments over the first year of membership.
  2. Each faculty union pays monthly dues which are set annually based on a formula using December 1st membership numbers and any pro-rating of part-time, contract or other types of members (please contact the Fund Secretary at defencefund@caut.ca for details) for each dues-paying member in its bargaining unit or units. The level of dues is changed from time to time by the Board of Trustees. It is currently set at $5.50 per person per month (non-taxable), a figure that has not risen since the 1990s.

For additional information about the CAUT Defence Fund, including the By-Laws and Standing Rules and Regulations, please consult the web site or contact email the Fund President or Secretary.

Member Unions of the CAUT Defence Fund 

Acadia University Faculty Association
Algoma University Faculty Association
Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association
Association of Professors of Bishop's University
Brandon University Faculty Association
Brescia Faculty Association
Brock University Faculty Association
Cape Breton University Faculty Association
Carleton University Academic Staff Association
Concordia University Faculty Association
Concordia University College of Alberta Faculty Association
Dalhousie Faculty Association
University of Guelph Faculty Association
University of King’s College Teachers Association
Lakehead University Faculty Association
Laurentian University Faculty Association
Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval
University of Manitoba Faculty Association
McMaster University Academic Librarians' Association
Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association
Association des bibliothécaires, professeures et professeurs de l'Université de Moncton
Association des bibliothécaires, professeures, professeurs de l'Université de Moncton, campus d'Edmundston
Association des professeures et professeurs de l'Université de Moncton, Campus de Shippagan
Mount Allison Faculty Association
Mount Saint Vincent University Faculty Association≈ Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers
Nipissing University Faculty Association
University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association
Northern Ontario School of Medicine Faculty and Staff Association
Faculty Union of Nova Scotia College of Art & Design
Osgood Hall Faculty Association
Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa
University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association
Queen's University Faculty Association
University of Regina Faculty Association
Royal Roads University Faculty Association
Association des professeurs et bibliothécaires de l’Université Sainte-Anne
Association des professeurs de l'Université de Saint-Boniface
Saint Mary's University Faculty Union
Association des professeures et professeurs de l'Université Saint-Paul
University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association
St. Francis Xavier Association of University Teachers
St. Jerome's University Academic Staff Association
Faculty Association of the University of St. Thomas
St. Thomas More College Faculty Union
University of Toronto Faculty Association
Trent University Faculty Association
University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association
University of Victoria Faculty Association
University of Western Ontario Faculty Association
Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association
Windsor University Faculty Association
University of Winnipeg Faculty Association
York University Faculty Association