WOLFVILLE, NS – The Acadia University Faculty Association has announced a strike deadline of Nov. 27 after negotiations on a new collective agreement between them and Acadia have stalled again.
The strike deadline was announced by the Nov. 14. In their statement, AUFA president Stephen Ahern felt they were left with ‘no choice’ after he said talks last week with the university failed to address the union’s issues.
The association held a vote, and 81 per cent of its members voted in favour of the strike.
AUFA spokesperson Rachel Brickner said its biggest problem is Acadia’s board of governors’ “refusal to negotiate on anything with substance. What we’re getting is nothing from them,” she said.
Leading up to the deadline
The AUFA represents 331 full and part-time professors, librarians, archivists and instructors at Acadia.
Negotiations for a new collective agreement began in March 2017 and first stalled in June, after which AUFA filed for a conciliator to lead future discussions.
The conciliator-led discussions stalled again after one day of talks in early September. Last week saw another round of talks, where the association says Acadia’s board of governors did not address their clauses for restoring full-time faculty positions, pay equity issues, salaries reflecting regional averages and fundraising for campus childcare.
“They’ve come to the table, but they’re not offering us anything to work with. We want to get a deal done, and we need a partner at the table in order to do that,” said Brickner.
Responses from student union, university
University spokesperson Dr. Jeff Banks has commented on the situation, and says the university would also like the matter resolved, but that he and the university believe AUFA has too many financial issues that cannot all be funded.
Banks didn’t specify which ones could be funded.
“What they’re proposing could lead to potential deficits,” he said.
“Anything that will lead to deficit budgeting is unacceptable – it’s financial sustainability that’s key for us.”
Banks confirmed the university is set to meet with the association and a conciliator November 16 to discuss matters and work to avoid a strike.
Potential effects on students
The Acadia Student Union has also issued a statement on the situation, calling it ‘disappointing’ and stating any labour action would be detrimental to students.
“Students are heavily invested in their education at Acadia and it is frustrating to see it threatened due to an employer and employee negotiation process,” said ASU president Grace Hamilton-Burge.
“Students …are rightfully concerned about how this will impact their studies. We hope to see both sides reach an agreement so that coursework, thesis defenses, honours work, and exams are uninterrupted.”
Banks said if a strike happens, the university will work to ensure it doesn’t disrupt students’ education.
“We will do everything we can to ease problems it creates so that students are able to complete this semester, and the next,” he said.