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Laurentian University classes cancelled for professor strike

Classrooms at Laurentian University will be quiet today as over 500 professors are now on strike.

Laurentian University Faculty Association says talks broke off Wednesday night

Classrooms at Laurentian University will be quiet today as over 500 professors are now on strike.

The 367 full-time teachers and 200 sessional staff are represented by the Laurentian University Faculty Association.

Professors with the Laurentian University Faculty Association are seen on the picket line Thursday morning. (Erik White/CBC)

The union posted on its Facebook page last night:

"At 8:30 this evening, LUFA presented the administration with an offer aimed at averting a strike. Rather than responding to the offer, the university left the negotiations and issued a public communication at 10:50 pm that an impasse had been reached."

"In light of the administration's actions and despite our best efforts, we have to accept that there is indeed an impasse."

The strike officially began at 12:01 Thursday morning. It's the first time Laurentian professors have been on the picketline since 1989.

LUFA president James Ketchen says spirits are up among the striking faculty.

Laurentian University Faculty Association president Jim Ketchen stands at the union's pickline Thursday morning. (Erik White/CBC)

"We've had a good turnout … this morning," he said. "I think not withstanding what happened last night with the administration and their walking from the table and not responding to our latest offer, I think that's energized people."

LU says neither side could agree

But Laurentian University chief of staff Alex Freedman says that's not what happened last night.

"It is part of mediation, there are often multiple offers made on both sides of the table," he said.

"We made an offer. They made an offer. Everybody looked at the offers and at the end of the day, there was not an offer that was mutually agreeable to both sides."

The association says the main issue in the labour dispute is workload, claiming that the university is asking professors to teach up to eight classes a week instead of five.

Alex Freedman is the chief of staff at Laurentian University. (Angela Gemmill/ CBC)

Freedman says workload is an issue, but says the university hasn't asked for an increase in workload. He adds salaries and pensions are also outstanding issues.

"They were looking for normative salary increases which we offered," he said.

"What we did is we looked at the way other universities had settled in the last six months and at what rate. So we matched that and made that offer."

No classes at Laurentian University. Faculty is on strike. The CBC's Erik White brought us live updates from the university campus. 5:52

Campus impact

All classes at Laurentian, Thorneloe, Huntington and University of Sudbury are cancelled, although the faculty at the federated schools are not on strike.

Classes are also cancelled at the McEwen School of Architecture in downtown Sudbury, but the Northern Ontario School of Medicine is not affected by the strike.

Freedman says services on campus will be maintained for students.

"The library is going to stay open," he said.

"I know that the student associations have a series of activities planned to make sure that those students who live on campus have access to stuff to do."

On its website, Laurentian University told students and employees who still need to come and go from campus to expect traffic delays.

"The university's focus remains on the delivery of effective service and the fulfillment of its obligations to students and the community and we will ensure that this is not compromised to the best possible extent," the post reads.

It adds Greater Sudbury Transit buses will not cross the picket lines, but a shuttle system is in place to transport people through the campus.

Laurentian University professors and teaching staff are on strike today. Teachers want the university to address their workload. We hear from both sides of the argument. 8:32