Nova Scotia

Faculty at Cape Breton University vote to strike

The Cape Breton University Faculty Association said Friday the university's offer of a 1.5 per cent annual wage increase is insufficient. Members voted in favour of the strike motion this week.

Faculty asking for higher wages, given huge increase in enrolment at CBU

Faculty at Cape Breton University have voted in favour of a strike if a new contract can't been reached with the school. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

Faculty members at Cape Breton University have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike if a contract cannot be negotiated with the university.

The main sticking point appears to be wages. Calvin Howley, president of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association, said Friday the university's offer of a 1.5 per cent annual wage increase is insufficient.

He said three years ago the faculty accepted a 1.25 per cent annual wage increase but things are much different at the university now.

"If you go back three years ago, we were facing layoffs, declining enrolment, deficits, and yet the union was able to negotiate a 1.25 percent annual wage increase," said Howley.

He said since the last contract negotiation, the university has seen enrolment increase by 67 per cent and millions of dollars in surplus.

Members of the association voted this week, with 136 in favour of the strike motion and 14 against. The association represents professors, librarians, archivists, lab instructors, nursing practice educators, writing centre advisors and research chairs.

Enrolment increase

Howley said the association called the strike vote to help further the contract negotiations. He said stalled negotiations have become common not just at CBU but at other Nova Scotia universities.

Calvin Howley, president Cape Breton University Faculty Association, said the wage offer of 1.5 per cent annually is not sufficient. (Cape Breton University Faculty Association)

"Bargaining doesn't really conclude until after you get a strike vote, after conciliation fails and even after setting a strike date," said Howley.

Both parties filed for joint conciliation, which will take place on Nov. 13 and 14.

Howley said the faculty association hoped they would have a new contract negotiated in time for the fall term.

"My thing is that this contract could have been negotiated in the summer," said Howley.

No one from CBU was available to comment Friday.

But in an update on the contract negotiations posted on its website Oct. 11, CBU said it respects the rights of the faculty association to call a strike vote.

The university also said a vote doesn't mean a strike will happen and its main goal is to minimize any impact on the students and CBU community.