Nova Scotia

Dalhousie faculty vote 83% in favour of strike

The Dalhousie Faculty Association has voted 83 per cent in favor to strike.

The Dalhousie Faculty Association has voted 83 per cent in favor of a strike.

Anthony Stewart, president of the association said the vote will send a message to Dalhousie University that the faculty is serious about getting a fair deal.

The biggest issue for the faculty association members is protecting their pensions.

The two sides met with a conciliator Wednesday.

Both parties met at the Dartmouth Holiday Inn at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the conciliator going between the two camps, said Karen Janigan, communications officer for the faculty.

The two groups met face to face for 10 minutes at 8:30 p.m — the time when the university presented a 34-page legal document with demands to remove any mentions of a pension in the collective agreement.

That's when they declared conciliation a failure, according to Janigan.

"I wish conciliation talks on Wednesday had been productive," Stewart said.

"In fact, the DFA declared the conciliation a failure because of the enormous gap between us. I am aware that President [Tom] Traves and the administration are saying that significant progress was made," Stewart said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I have to question whether or not we were all in the same room together."

The Dalhousie Faculty Association, which represents approximately 850 professors, librarians and learning specialists, and the university have been trying to negotiate a contract since April.

The DFA presented a proposal with four points it needs to move ahead with a pension deal, Stewart said.

"The administration's proposal requires all mentions of the pension plan to be stripped from the collective agreement," he said.

"It would basically be leaving our members unprotected at the most vulnerable stage in their lives," he added.

They want to have a say on how pensions are administered.

Stewart said the vote took place over three days.

Faculty could walk off the job two weeks after the conciliator has filed his report.

Stewart said he didn't know when that report would be expected.

Dalhousie University responded to results of the strike vote Friday afternoon.

"The vote is definitely a strong mandate for the DFA to continue bargaining," Charles Crosby, spokesman for Dalhousie University told CBC News in an email.

"Yesterday we invited them back to the table and hopefully we can get back to it and negotiate. We've already made a lot of progress and we're confident we can reach an agreement, but we need to keep talking in order to get there. Let's keep the conversation going and work out an agreement."