University announces two parties will continue to negotiate after strike vote
Last Friday, Jan. 24, the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) announced that faculty had voted in favour of possible strike action. MAFA represents roughly 150 full-time and 60 part-time Mount Allison faculty and librarians. According to the MAFA press release, 74 per cent of full-time faculty and 94 per cent of part-time faculty voted in favour of a strike. MAFA also reported that “The vote was strong with 91 per cent of eligible MAFA members casting ballots.”
As of Jan. 28, MAFA has set a strike date of Monday, Feb. 3 for members of the full-time unit. According to a statement on the University website, which was linked in an email to students from Robert Hiscock on Jan. 28, there is disagreement on the legitimacy of the vote for the part-time members. The disagreement surrounds the issue of who was eligible to vote and the implications this has for a strike mandate. Because their strike mandate is under review, there is currently no strike date set for members of the part-time unit, though MAFA will hold another vote under the new criteria for part-time members. According to Hiscock, “The faculty association announced that they were doing a revote of the part time, and that’s also going on today [Jan. 30] and tomorrow [Jan. 31].”
“[Part-time members] do the same work in the classroom as full-time members,” said MAFA president Matt Litvak in a press release on Jan. 28. “Many of our part-time members are underpaid, struggling to earn a living wage. Issues of part-time employment rights and compensation have been critically important to MAFA in this round of bargaining.”
Hiscock, Mt. A’s director of marketing and communication, sent an email to students on Friday, Jan. 24, reporting that the two teams would be meeting on Jan. 27, Jan. 30 and Jan. 31. These meetings gave both parties more time to work with the provincially-appointed mediator. “[The mediator] comes in and assists them with negotiations. I think it’s just about trying to mix up the dynamic in the room and get people talking and so on. said Hiscock. The mediator was appointed late in 2019.
In the event that the two sides do not agree on a new contract by Monday, Feb. 3, MAFA has the authority to strike and the University has the authority to lock out MAFA members. According to Mt. A’s website, “The University will not consider locking out MAFA members unless there is a strike.”
According to MAFA’s most recent press release on Tuesday, Jan. 28, the main issues of present negotiations revolve around “resources to support the academic mission of the university, faculty and librarian staffing, workload, equity and human rights – including non-discriminatory workplace accommodations for persons with disabilities – and compensation and benefits for full-time and part-time members.”
Many students have been staying informed about the strike through MAFA’s website and email updates from the University.
Isabelle Dolan, a third-year physics student feels frustrated by the process. “I think students are mostly stressed out about the strike. Especially students that are in their third year and are graduating,” she said. “I wish the administration would be less run like a business and had more of the interest of students and professors at heart.”
Dolan also spoke about how she plans to stay on top of her work if a strike does happen: “If there is a strike, personally, I’m going to continue doing my work, do everything that’s up on Moodle, try and get any long-term projects done and maybe read the textbook and do what I can. However, when we get back, our profs are going to have to teach us three weeks’ worth of stuff in such a short period of time,” she said. “I probably won’t do as well in my exams unless [my professors] curve it or modify it, which they shouldn’t have to. We should be able to learn everything.”