STU students might not be immune to inconvenience in the event of a work stoppage at the University of New Brunswick.
St. Thomas currently enjoys a slew of shared services with UNB that could be disrupted in the event of a strike or lockout down the hill.
Some St. Thomas students take courses at UNB, and the universities share services such as the library, the Students’ Union Building, and the Health Centre.
Second-year STU student Jesse Middleton takes an introduction to mythology course down the hill.
He heard about a potential strike two days ago when he spoke to his brother who attends the university.
“I understand that UNB is the bigger school and we’re the little sister school here, but they need to think of us in this context,” he said. “I know a lot of students at St. Thomas who … are in the library every day.
“[If] the library’s gone … they’re not going to be able to do their work.”
Contract negotiations between UNB and the union representing 600 full-time faculty, researchers and librarians began in June 2009.
Talks between the two parties ended last week without resolution.
There is a media blackout, but according to a memorandum sent out by the administration from UNB Fredericton and UNB Saint John, although the negotiations were “fruitful and positive,” the two parties still didn’t have a contract by January 2010.
The help of a conciliation process began on Jan. 21, but the parties were still apart on certain issues 11 days later.
The Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour has until the middle of February to decide where the negotiations will go from there.
According to the memorandum, it is “too premature to speculate” that a strike will happen.
Jeffrey Carleton, a spokesperson for STU, said the school’s offices are putting together a planning committee that will deal with the potential disturbances.
“The Dean of Students and the Registrar [have] been in contact with [their] counterparts,” he said. “We’ll be coming together very shortly to look at what contingency plans we need to have in place to protect the best interest of our students.”
The memorandum said it is “not unusual” for the two parties to still be at odds.
However, Middleton is still worried about a strike and the possibility of pushing the school year into the summer.
“The one big perk of university is you have four months of summer, so then you cool off,” he said. “If they push it into the summer … [and] start again in September … there’s going to be two months of summer.
“I don’t want to stay here at St. Thomas or UNB or Fredericton for that matter for one course, twice a week for a friggin’ extra month.”
Separate negotiations are also in process for approximately 550 part-time contract academic instructors and librarians.
UNB “remain[s] optimistic” that both negotiation processes will end positively.
According to Carleton, approximately 200 STU students take courses at UNB.
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