Cape Breton University faculty, management hope to avoid strike
Two sides hope to continue negotiations next week
Time is running out for faculty and management at Cape Breton University to finish up their contract negotiations.
The Cape Breton University Faculty Association voted 92 per cent in favour of strike action last fall after talks broke off in early November. The association represents 166 staff members including professors, librarians, lab instructors and researchers.
"No new paper has been exchanged and we're only a week out from the possibility of job action," said Barry Moore, the spokesperson for the faculty association.
Contract negotiations have been going on for months but the two sides haven't spoken since December.
The union has started mobilizing, setting up a headquarters and working on strike protocol.
The administration of Cape Breton University, however, is not all that eager to plan for that outcome. David Wheeler, the president of the university, is telling students to assume it's business as usual.
"At the moment, we are not actively planning for an eventuality that we don't think will happen," he said.
Wheeler's optimism stems from the fact that both sides clearly want to avoid a strike.
Moore said the faculty will only walk if they have to.
"I still believe there is more chance that this will be resolved than that there will be job action," said Moore.
The two sides met with a conciliator last month.
Moore said significant movement was made on the main stumbling block — faculty workload — but not enough to settle it. The union also rejected the university's salary offer.
"The employer did put an offer on the table. For us, the negotiating team did not accept that offer and so now there is no other offer on the table," said Moore.
A conciliator will meet with both sides early next week.
The union would prefer not to wait and wants the university administration to speak with them sooner. That would give them more time to prevent the disruption a walkout will cause.
The earliest a strike or lockout could occur is Jan. 23.