Frank McKenna's "crude union bashing" is "extremely disappointing" to the president of the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations.

Jean Sauvageau is reacting to the recent call from the former New Brunswick premier for professors to lower their salary demands.

Speaking at a St. Francis Xavier University alumni event, and later on CBC Radio, McKenna commented on the faculty demand for a 26 per cent pay increase over four years that led to a three-week strike at the University of New Brunswick in January.

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St. Thomas University professor Jean Sauvageau is the president of the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations. (CBC)

"Those who are at the receiving end of government money have to understand how big the envelope is and exercise some restraint," said McKenna, who stated the Canadian Association of University Teachers is pushing the agenda for higher faculty pay.

Sauvageau points out that the Canadian Association of University Teachers had nothing to do with the negotiations at UNB.

"An informed observer would know that the UNB professors and librarians are represented by the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers," stated Sauvageau.

Sauvageau also states the 26 per cent increase sought by the UNB professors was the "starting position" of the AUNBT and no one knows the extent to which the union adjusted its salary demands below its initial position.

"To remain fixated on this figure and assume the AUNBT was intransigent throughout the negotiating process is not a fair reflection of the reality of such a process," said Sauvageau. "An informed observer would know something like this."

Sauvageau says McKenna is attacking faculty unions as if they "are the cause of the financial woes the region is experiencing."

"On the one hand, strong unions, where ever one looks, have always helped maintain a vibrant and middle class," said Sauvageau. "Economists have been telling us for some time now  that a large and vibrant middle class is exactly what is needed for an economy to flourish and prosper. Instead, the middle class is shrinking."

Sauvageau also states that unions have never caused economic recessions.

"It's a well-known fact that economic recessions are caused by unregulated, greedy private banks and corporations," he said. "This is something which Mr. McKenna, deputy chairman of the TD Bank, should know."

Sauvageau also said it is "wishful thinking" to count on austerity measures to revitalize an economy.

"The only thing that austerity measures accomplish is to make the rich richer at the expense of everyone else," he said.

"By sticking nonetheless with the austerity ideology, governments consciously starve themselves of income tax, sales tax and corporate tax revenues, and then cry poor."

Faculty associations' response to Frank McKenna

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