Nova Scotia

Mediator stepping in to help in Acadia University contract dispute

Nova Scotia's labour minister has appointed a mediator to try to help Acadia University and its faculty members settle their contract dispute. Professors, librarians, archivists and instructors of the Wolfville, N.S., university have been on strike since Feb. 1.

Faculty members at Wolfville, N.S., university on strike since Feb. 1, seeking higher wages, more diversity

Members of the Acadia University Faculty Association walk the picket line on Thursday in Wolfville, N.S. Professors, instructors, librarians and archivists have been on strike since Feb. 1. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's labour minister has appointed a mediator to try to help Acadia University and its striking faculty members settle their contract dispute.

Mediation with William Kaplan is set to begin on Saturday, according to a news release Wednesday from the province.

Jon Saklofske, a spokesperson for the Acadia University Faculty Association, said he's glad to see progress, however staff have been ready to negotiate since May but were unable to due to a delay on the university's side.

"Our negotiating team has found that we have been asked to compromise and sort of change a lot of the things that we initially proposed, but the board team hasn't sort of engaged in that kind of evenhandedness," Saklofske

Saklofske said he hopes the mediator will bring things to a point where a tentative agreement acceptable to both sides is reached.

Professors, librarians, archivists and instructors of the Wolfville, N.S., university have been on strike since Feb. 1, and are seeking a new contract that includes improved faculty diversity, higher wages and better job security.

'Proven track record'

Khalehla Perrault, a spokesperson for the province's Department of Labour, said Kaplan will work with both parties from Feb. 26–March. 1. He will then determine the most effective process and approach to mediation.

"If an agreement is reached through mediation and then ratified, the strike will come to an end. Mr. Kaplan has a proven track record and we are hopeful he will be successful in helping the parties come to an agreement," said Perrault.

"If mediation does not result in an agreement, we will assess options at that time."

Kaplan is an arbitrator, mediator and independent investigator who has in the past served as the industrial inquiry commissioner in the contract dispute between the Halifax Chronicle Herald and Halifax Typographical Union.

Mediation will be used in the Acadia contract dispute as a non-binding tool to help reach a settlement.

The Department of Labour said it encourages the university and faculty to continue discussions in preparation for meetings with Kaplan.

Dale Keefe, Acadia's provost and vice-president academic, told CBC in an email that the university welcomes Kaplan's arrival and hopes it can reach a collective agreement that gets students back in school as soon as possible.

"The past eight months of bargaining have been difficult," Keefe said. "The pandemic and the strike have not been easy on anyone, particularly our students, and the university is acutely aware of how stressful this is on them."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Feleshia Chandler is a journalist based in Halifax. She loves helping people tell their stories and has interests in issues surrounding LGBTQ+ people as well as Black, Indigenous and people of colour. You can reach her at feleshia.chandler@cbc.ca.

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