Statement on the academic status of University of Waterloo librarians and archivists and our recent affiliation vote

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Over the past year and a half, the Librarians’ and Archivists’ Association of the University of Waterloo (LAAUW) has been evaluating affiliation with the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW). A vote was held in late March 2021 and our membership decided against seeking FAUW affiliation. Of our 38 members, 18 voted against, 9 voted in favour, and 9 abstained. Twenty-four votes in favour were required for the vote to pass.  

The outcome of this vote means that our working conditions at Waterloo remain governed by campus policies, procedures, and guidelines, and the Librarians' and Archivists' Employment Handbook (Handbook). The FAUW and University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) Presidents have provided their full support for our decision: 

  • dan brown, FAUW President, says, “We are pleased that our colleagues at LAAUW have made a decision about their preferred working conditions and representation. Many faculty members collaborate with librarians and archivists in research projects, and we know this important work will go forward regardless of the status chosen by our colleagues. FAUW looks forward to working with librarians and archivists on a number of areas of shared interest, such as academic freedom, scholarly publishing, research metrics and open access.” 
  • Kathy Becker, UWSA President, says, “The UWSA is happy to learn of this outcome; we sincerely appreciate your continued confidence in our work. We value the past contributions of LAAUW members to the Staff Association, and we welcome your ongoing input and involvement.” 

Ahead of the vote the members of the LAAUW Executive did our best to ensure members had the information they needed to make an informed decision. We gathered and evaluated information about academic status at other institutions, answered questions through member consultations, and held conversations with the FAUW and the UWSA. The Academic Status Comparator Institutions Report is available online via UWSpace and details about the consultation and vote process have been posted to the LAAUW website.

Voting against affiliation with the FAUW means we continue to be unique when compared to other Canadian universities. This often leads to misconceptions about the experiences of our members so we have published a set of Frequently Asked Questions. These FAQs aim to provide an honest overview of our work environment and clarity about some of the more common points of confusion. If you have questions, please ask!   

I want to recognize everyone who has helped shape the vote process:  

  • Jordan Hale, Rebecca Hutchinson, and Kari Weaver whose work made it possible for us to understand the current context and provided a clear consultation path to follow; 
  • The FAUW and UWSA executive members who patiently provided guidance and answered our various questions; 
  • LAAUW executive who helped inform each step; and 
  • all the LAAUW our members who engaged with the process in good faith along the way – either by asking questions or providing background information. 

Finally, I want to acknowledge that the working conditions LAAUW members benefit from through campus policies and the Handbook are based on, and continue to be strengthened by, the collective organizing work taking place at campuses across the country. We are grateful for your work and will continue to offer our support.  


Lauren Byl, LAAUW President (2020-2022)

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