'Respectful' negotiations end strike by Concordia University of Edmonton faculty

Classes will resume this week for students at Concordia University of Edmonton after a deal was reached Saturday between the school and its striking faculty association.

Four-year deal ratified Saturday by 89 per cent of the membership

Students at Concordia University of Edmonton will be able to resume classes on Jan. 19. (John Shypitka/CBC)

Classes will resume this week for students at Concordia University of Edmonton after a deal was reached Saturday between the school and its striking faculty association.

The four-year collective agreement was ratified by 89 per cent of the membership, said a statement from the Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA), bargaining agent for 82 full-time professors, librarians, placement co-ordinators and lab instructors.

"This new agreement is a win for faculty, students and the community," said association president Glynis Price.

"It will enable the university to recruit and retain excellent faculty and lays the foundation for a stronger learning environment." 

The strike, which began on Jan. 4, was a first for faculty associations in Alberta and halted the start of the winter term for more than 2,500 students.

Arrangements are being made so that virtual classes will begin on Wednesday, according to statements issued Saturday from both the university and its faculty association. 

The two organizations are also "collaborating to mitigate the impacts of the delayed semester on CUE students," added the statement from CUE president and vice-chancellor Tim Loreman.

Improvements to salary, workload and research opportunities were identified as key parts of the new agreement. 

Negotiated salary gains "will begin the process of bringing CUE faculty and academic service officers into line with other institutions," said the CUEFA statement.  Salaries of CUE rank near the bottom of 70 Canadian universities, it said.

Faculty at Concordia University of Edmonton went on strike on Jan. 4. (David Bajer/CBC)

Price said the association is grateful to the students, parents and others who supported the strike action. 

The group received more than 1,350 messages of support from across Canada, while a student-run petition supporting the faculty gained more than 500 signatures, said the CUEFA statement.

"We are proud that the placards on the picket line read 'We are all CUE' because each and every one of us is part of the community," said Price.

Loreman praised the faculty association for remaining "productive and respectful" throughout the bargaining process.

"Both sides honoured their commitments to treat one another with patience, professionalism and respect," he said.

"This was an essential approach, and I am deeply grateful to the dedicated and hardworking members of CUE and CUEFA bargaining teams for achieving a swift resolution to the strike."


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