MUN, sessional instructors reach tentative agreement

After the union representing Memorial University's per-course instructors voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike vote, negotiators reached a tentative agreement.

It's not ideal, says president of LUMUN, and it will be up to the union's members to decide

The tentative agreement is 'not ideal,' says Martha Wells, president of the Lecturers' Union of Memorial University of Newfoundland. (CBC)

The union representing Memorial University's per-course instructors has reached a tentative agreement with the university.

"The deal is for a four-year period and it addresses some long-standing issues and provides for some increases to per-course pay," said Martha Wells, president of the Lecturers' Union of Memorial University of Newfoundland, noting that all details will be released once all of LUMUN's membership has reviewed and voted on it.

That will likely be in mid-February, she said.

The low end of our scale is still very low.- Martha Wells

LUMUN represents about 360 per-course instructors and research fellows at the university and has been in negotiations with the university since April 2017, asking for higher pay for its instructors.

Wells told CBC News in December that MUN's per-course instructors were the lowest-paid in the country and that an instructor with a full courseload of six courses a year makes between $30,000 and $32,000.

In mid-December, LUMUN members voted in favour of a strike mandate.

"We got a really strong strike mandate from our members, and I think that went a long way to help lubricate the final stages of bargaining."

Wells says LUMUN members will now vote whether to accept the deal. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Tentative agreement is 'not ideal'

She said that though she is feeling relieved, they "didn't reach the ideal contract, but maybe next time," noting that negotiators managed to get more money for "most" of the per-course instructors at MUN.

"The low end of our scale is still very low," she said. "That is not ideal and we did fight hard to get something for everyone."

In particular, she said, the provincial wage freeze for public sector unions was a big obstacle.

"But we managed to get some really strong changes in language that we're happy about."

Wells said she wasn't sure how LUMUN members will respond to the tentative deal. 

"It's really hard to tell. It depends on how high their expectations were. But we really fought hard to get what we did. So I hope they will appreciate it."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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