Nova Scotia

Dalhousie, faculty union ratify labour agreement

After the threat of a strike last fall, Dalhousie University faculty and administrators have ratified a labour agreement that lasts to the end of June 2022. The parties have been negotiating a new deal since the collective agreement expired last summer.

Faculty were on the verge of strike last fall

Dalhousie University faculty and administrators will be back at the bargaining table again next year. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

After the threat of a strike last fall, Dalhousie University faculty and administrators have ratified a labour agreement that lasts to the end of June 2022.

The two parties came to a tentative agreement in January. It was accepted by the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) through a vote the same month. The deal was ratified by the university's board of governors last week, according to a news release Wednesday from the faculty association.

The DFA, which represents almost 1,000 professors, instructors, librarians and counsellors at the Halifax university, has been negotiating with the university since last summer when the collective agreement expired. In the fall, after failing to reach a new agreement, faculty voted in favour of strike action.

A conciliator was brought in but those talks reached an impasse after just one day. Several days with a conciliation board in November moved talks forward, according the DFA, but university administrators would not accept all the conciliator's recommendations.

An additional day of conciliation in January resulted in the final agreement.

Pensions a sticking point

"This was an extremely challenging and unprecedented round of bargaining given the global pandemic and massive impacts on our members' working conditions," DFA president David Westwood said in the news release. 

Westwood said pensions were a major sticking point, and the new agreement has "preserved the basic structure" of the pension plan.

"We have also negotiated a very modest wage increase to protect against inflation," he said.

Westwood has previously said that burnout caused by the transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was another issue at the bargaining table.

Work-from-home expense reimbursement was included in the new contract, as well as several other "non-monetary gains," such as online material copyrights, educational leave for instructors and support for some "extraordinary" administrative work.

The next round of bargaining will begin mid-2022.

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