Acadia University, faculty union look to upcoming week for progress on strike
Faculty association has been off the job since Feb. 1
Despite little progress in the last two weeks, both sides in the Acadia University faculty strike say they're hoping for movement in the coming days.
Professors, librarians, archivists and instructors at the Wolfville, N.S., university have been off the job since Feb. 1. They are seeking a new contract that includes higher wages, more job security and improved faculty diversity.
Dale Keefe, Acadia provost and vice-president academic, said in an interview Thursday that progress has been slow. However, he said the university has been in contact several times in recent days with a provincially appointed conciliator and is preparing for when talks resume.
"We're working through him," Keefe said of the conciliator. "He'll call the parties back when he thinks it's productive."
Keefe said the university wants a deal that is "fair and sustainable." He said there isn't much wiggle room from the university's last offer that was delivered just before the strike.
"We've got to look at the long-term sustainability of the institution and not just the short-term right now."
On Thursday, a group of about 50 students staged a march in support of the faculty association.
Jon Saklofske, the union's spokesperson and an English and theatre professor, said faculty members are pleased to see students getting involved and engaged, despite the circumstances.
While some students have dropped in at headquarters to show support, others have come with questions — some of them difficult, he said.
"Which is what university is for, that critical sort of thinking."
Saklofske said the union is ready to return to the bargaining table at any point.
Like Keefe, he said he's hoping the upcoming week, which would have been reading week for students, can lead to progress.
"That reading week is an excellent opportunity to sit down at the negotiating table with both sides and to talk through the complex issues that we're trying to resolve," he said.
Keefe said the goal is to have students back in class for Feb. 28 so the term isn't affected in any significant way.
"That's our target right now," he said. "If we can do that, then we are confident we'll be able to complete the term with minor adjustments."
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