Faculty union asks for voluntary binding arbitration

For the first time since the strike began, Mount Allison’s administration and faculty appear to be able to agree on something.

At 8:15 pm Thursday night, the Mount Allison Faculty Association sent out a press release proposing voluntary binding arbitration to bring an end to the bargaining process.

A round of provincially-mandated negotiations broke down earlier today, despite the presence of a special mediator. The university renewed its offer for voluntary binding arbitration to reach a settlement this afternoon.

The faculty association said their proposal would see a return to class on Monday, Feb. 17, an outcome both the university’s administration and students’ union had also hoped for.

“We understand that despite our best efforts the collective bargaining process has been exhausted,” said MAFA President Loralea Michaelis in the press release.

“MAFA remains committed to the principle of free collective bargaining but this round of negotiations has proven to be one of the most challenging in our history. Differences in bargaining positions are to be expected but our members have been shocked by the way in which the administration has handled this labour dispute. We will be having serious conversations about administrative accountability and decision making,” Michaelis said in the release.

“We look forward to a positive response from the administration to our proposal.”

An interview with Michaelis revealed that the union had notified the special mediator that they had asked for issue-by-issue arbitration. The university’s arbitration proposals had been for so-called ‘final package’ arbitration.

Under the faculty’s proposal, issues would evaluated by the arbitration board individually. The university’s first call for voluntary binding arbitration would have seen an arbitration board accept one proposed collective agreement from either the faculty’s submission or the university’s.

The university’s administration had proposed voluntary binding arbitration on two separate occasions: Feb. 7, and Feb. 13. The faculty association rejected the first proposal at the time. A statement from the university’s administration earlier today indicated that the faculty association had rejected its proposal for binding arbitration.

A two-day round of provincially-mandated negotiations broke down earlier today, despite the presence of a special mediator.

The strike has been ongoing since Jan. 27.

Karen Grant, the university’s spokesperson on the strike, had not responded to The Argosy’s request for comment.

With files from Christopher Balcom.

This story has been updated to include an interview with Loralea Michaelis. The headline has been changed to more accurately reflect MAFA’s position.

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