Strike averted at St. FX

Devanne O’Brien – The Xaverian Weekly –

ANTIGONISH, N.S. (CUP) — The St. Francis Xavier Association of University Teachers voted to accept the their administration’s most recent contract offer, quashing the worries of 4,000 students who might have had to deal with a strike or lockout at the end of the winter semester.

Over sixty per cent of the union membership casted a ballot in the vote held on campus on Feb. 25 and 26. The results indicate strong support for the tentative agreement.

The faculty union has been deliberating the new contract with university administration since the summer of 2009. The proposed contract comes after months of negotiations, two failed rounds of conciliation talks, and increasing concern about the prospects of a faculty strike on the StFX campus.

On Feb. 16, members of the campus community were notified via email that the two parties had reached a tentative agreement. The agreement was reached two days before the StFXAUT were in a legal position to strike, averting the labour action.

Although the agreement is still undergoing minor revisions, it has been learned that the wages of lab instructors and clinical associates improved in this tentative agreement compared to what was proposed by the university administration in previous offers.

Among the highlights of the contract settlement are a new employment equity policy; benefits extended to members over the age of 65; common academic freedoms for all union members; and common pregnancy, adoptive, parental, and paternity leaves for all union members.

StFXAUT president Dr. David Lynes says that, although the negotiations process was long, it was ultimately worthwhile.

“I think it’s a good agreement. It gives us something to build on in the future,” he says.

The StFXAUT and the administration will begin negotiating the next contract during the summer of 2012.

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