Sudbury

Laurentian University faculty union wants administration to 'come to the table' ahead of strike mandate vote

Come to the table. That’s the message students at Laurentian University heard on Thursday, at a barbecue and information session held by the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA). The union has been without a contract since July 1, and will be voting on a strike mandate on Friday.

Students left with questions about how a potential strike would affect the school year

Laurentian University Faculty Association president Jim Ketchen says the union wants university administration to "come to the table" so that an agreement can be reached between the two parties. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

"Come to the table."

That's the message students at Laurentian University heard on Thursday, at a barbecue and information session held by the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA).

The union — which represents professors and librarians at the Sudbury school — has been without a contract since July 1, and will be voting on a strike mandate on Friday.

President Jim Ketchen says LUFA has struggled to meet with the administration to work out a deal, and decided to reach out to students so that they understand what Friday's vote is about.

"I think they need to know what's happening," Ketchen said. "They need to understand it's not about what we're asking, it's about, 'Can the deal get made?'"

"We cleared our weekends, to meet with the administration to do whatever we can to hammer out a deal. Until they come to the table — which is what the event's all about —  it's gonna be very hard to get something done."

Hear what LUFA president Jim Ketchen and some Laurentian students have to say.

'Not knowing is kind of concerning'

But many students at the barbecue were left with more questions.

Fourth year kinesiology student Morgan Trites says a lot of her friends and classmates aren't really aware what a faculty strike would mean for them. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Morgan Trites, a fourth-year kinesiology student who volunteered to hand out pamphlets at the event, said she didn't feel as aware as she could be and wanted to help her friends and classmates learn more. 

"I'm sure there are many other students who aren't aware about the strike as well, and how this could affect students," she said.

"Lots of people I've spoken to today have questions, and they didn't really know a lot about it."

Second-year kinesiology student Lexie Rivard didn't even know that the barbecue was happening until she was handed a pamphlet on her way to class. She said students need to know how severe a strike would be and how it would affect each program.

"Not knowing is kind of concerning, just because I don't know to what point it will affect our education and class time," Rivard said.

Administration says strike would be 'detrimental'

While the pamphlets LUFA handed out at the event assured students that "no student in Canada has ever lost a term because of a faculty strike," Laurentian University thinks a strike would impact students. 

"The university is not interested in a strike at this point," said chief of staff Alex Freedman. "We feel that it would be particularly detrimental to the students who would be caught up in this."

Freedman said the university has agreed to mediation dates on September 24 and October 5, and will continue to work closely with the union to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

LUFA said results from the strike mandate vote should be available by Monday night.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robin De Angelis is a multimedia journalist based in southwestern Ontario. She has previously worked as a reporter covering local news in Sudbury. Get in touch on Twitter @RobinElizabethD or by email robin.deangelis@cbc.ca

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