MSVU faculty negotiations hit standstill

Conciliation set to begin on Dec. 10

Negotiations between the Mount Saint Vincent Faculty Association and university administration will go to conciliation on Dec. 10. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Negotiations between the Mount Saint Vincent University Faculty Association and the university administration have hit an impasse.

“We’re in a limbo at the moment,” says Michael MacMillan, a spokesperson for the MSVU Faculty Association. “We’re hoping the conciliator will be able to prod the employer along to a settlement.”

Negotiations between the faculty association and the university — which began in June — have failed to produce an agreement.

MacMillan says the last offer produced by the university administration was a “final offer” and in effect “ended the meetings that precede conciliation.”

Conciliation with a provincially appointed conciliator is scheduled to begin on Dec. 10.

MacMillan says negotiations are locked-up over the association’s demands for:

  • employment equity to ensure salaries for faculty and librarians is comparable to counterparts at other institutions in the region
  • Payment equity to ensure faculty get comparable compensation for comparable jobs
  • Internal issues concerning pensions, department shares, and other secondary issues

The last agreement between the two parties expired on June 30. Since then, MSVU faculty have been working without a new deal in place.

Trevor Corkum, the manager of marketing and communications at MSVU, could not comment on the negotiations. He did say the university is committed to reaching a deal with the faculty association.

“We are currently focused on reaching a settlement with the faculty association and know that the stage we’re at is a common stage in the process,” says Corkum.

Strike possibility

A strike vote conducted in October resulted in 84 per cent of faculty members voting in favour of a strike. Ninety per cent of members participated in the vote.

MacMillan says a strike is a distinct possibility if negotiations fail to produce an agreement.

“There aren’t any meetings scheduled,” he says. “We’ve wanted to keep meeting, but when you’re told that’s your final offer, that in effect says ‘We’re not going to negotiate with you anymore.’ What are the remaining steps?”

The faculty association is also concerned how three of the last four agreements between the two parties required the services of a conciliator, a scenario which MacMillan says is “completely unnecessary and quite unfortunate.”

Agreements have typically been for three-year periods. However, the last agreement was only for two years because the faculty association and the university administration could not strike a deal for the third year.

Corkum could not comment on the details of previous agreements. He did say, however, that the administration has been updating the students’ union on the on-going negotiations.

“They know we’re committed to reaching a deal,” he says.

Zach Gallant, president of the MSVU Students’ Union, refused to comment on the possibility of a strike because it’s a “sensitive subject.”

If a strike does occur, MacMillan says faculty will withdraw their labour services and “everything shuts down in the way of classes and academic work.”

MacMillan says the faculty association is prepared to talk whenever the administration is ready.

“It all comes down to will — do people want a settlement or not,” he says. “We want a deal.”