Negotiations to resume Wednesday at Mount Allison

Katie Tower
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At the request of provincially-appointed mediator

Just a week after going on strike, Mount Allison's striking faculty members are going to the negotiating table.

Striking faculty at Mount Allison, including Prof. Michael Fox, will go back to the negotiating table with the university on Wednesday.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Just over a week after Mount Allison’s academic staff hit the picket lines, they are heading back to the bargaining table with the university’s administration.

In an update issued on Monday, the university says both parties will return to negotiations tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 5) at the request of the provincially-appointed mediator.

“The university welcomes this return to collective bargaining to resolve the outstanding issues between the university and the Mount Allison Faculty Association,” the e-mail stated.

Faculty walked off the job on Monday, Jan. 27,suspending classes for 2,400 students.

MAFA president Loralea Michaelis said at the time that the administration had yet to move on proposals that “are simply unacceptable to our membership.”

Michaelis said MAFA was disappointed the months of negotiations had come down to a strike but stressed that the faculty is fighting for “the future of the academic mission at Mount Allison.”

The faculty association, which represents 154 full-time and 56-part-time faculty and librarians, says the main unresolved issues in the dispute are: administrative control over teaching and research, workload, equitable pay and pensions.

Meanwhile, MAFA gained plenty of support last Friday for their efforts when they were joined by peers from across the country at a solidarity rally. Led by drummers and chanting slogans and singing, fellow academic staff from 15 Canadian universities marched around the university campus, then converged on the bandstand in downtown Sackville at noon for the rally.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Defence Fund has over 20,000 members from 50 unions and sends “flying pickets” when a member union is on strike. The CAUT presented a $1 million cheque to MAFA for the strike fund.

“We’re here to support you in your struggles,” said Brian Brown, president of the CAUT defence fund, “and we’ll be here every Friday as long as you’re on strike. We will stand with you and we will stand with your families.

Other flying picketers brought with them messages of support as well, including statements like: “We are in this together.”; “Stay strong, stay united, you will win.”; “Faculty is the heart of the university.”; “When you fight for academic freedom, we all get academic freedom, and we are proud to support you in that fight.” “These things matter . . . you’ll come out with a better Mount Allison.”

Michaelis said MAFA is grateful for the support of their colleagues. She said the issues that are being raised during this strike about academic freedom and the sustainability of the academic mission of the university resonate with faculty and librarians across the country.

“By working and striking together, we will turn the tide at the table,” Michaelis said. “The issues we’ve raised speak to the future well-being of the university.”

Some students also attended the event in support of their professors. The students have set up their own strike headquarters, where their peers can get accurate information about the issues separating faculty and administration.

“Our mandate is to ensure the students are engaged and informed,” said Alex Thomas, a fourth-year student.

Organizations: Mount Allison Faculty Association, Canadian Association of University, Defence Fund

Geographic location: SACKVILLE

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