Mount Allison strikers get national show of support
Academic staff from across 15 universities across Canada attended solidarity rally in Sackville
Striking Mount Allison University faculty had support from colleagues across Canada on the picket line in Sackville on Friday.
Academic staff from 15 universities joined them for a parade around the campus, followed by a noon hour solidarity rally at the bandstand on Main Street.
Some students also attended the event, sporting placards with messages such as, "I support my profs."
The Canadian Association of University Teachers presented a $1 million cheque for the strike fund.
Loralea Michaelis, president of the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA), says she is grateful for the support.
"The issues that we are raising about academic freedom and the sustainability of the academic mission of the university resonate with faculty and librarians across the country," she said in a statement.
Mount Allison professors and librarians walked off the job on Jan. 27 after last-minute negotiations between the university administration and union failed to reach an agreement.
The union says workload and the need to provide greater support to the core academic mission of the university are the key issues in the dispute.
Salaries, pensions and benefits for full-time and part-time members are also areas of contention, it says.
UNB tentative agreement looms large
MAFA is buoyed by the tentative agreement reached in the University of New Brunswick strike on Thursday, said Michaelis.
"It's proof of what we've been saying, if you go on strike, you will be able to put pressure on the administration to make a fair settlement," she said.
Mount Allison's administration is also hoping the UNB agreement bodes well for them.
"We hope that the faculty association will also give some consideration to the settlement that took place at the University of New Brunswick and maybe between the two of us we can find a way to get back to the table and reach a tentative agreement as well," said Karen Grant, provost and vice-president academic and research.
Still, both sides are at a stalemate, waiting for the other to make the first move.
"We're in the process of talking to the mediator, we're ready to negotiate, we always have been always will be," said Michaelis.
No talks have taken place since the strike started and none are scheduled.
"We negotiated all last weekend, it's Friday, it doesn't preclude the possibility that we could be back at the table this weekend. I hope we will be back at the table this weekend," said Grant.
Students have said they hope the strike will end quickly.
Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Jody Carr says he is monitoring the situation closely.
"Our priority is enabling students to finish their term with the least amount of disruption possible," Carr said in a statement issued on Friday.
He is urging both parties to "make every effort to resolve this dispute with minimal impact to students and within the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act."
"Our preference is that a settlement can be found by both parties working together at the bargaining table," Carr said.
The MAFA represents 154 full-time and 56 part-time academic staff.
Contract negotiations have been taking place since July.