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UNB heads back to class; meanwhile, Mt. Allison profs continue to strike

Photo by Chris Donovan (The Argosy)

FREDERICTON (CUP) — One university strike in New Brunswick may be ending, but another is just beginning. Students and professors at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton will head back to class Monday, while professors at Mount Allison University in Sackville have been on strike for a week.

Click here for the original article from the Canadian University Press.

University of New Brunswick

Both the UNB and its professors’ union AUNBT announced Jan. 30 that they have reached a tentative agreement. The agreement would give the professors a 2.5 per cent salary increase per year for the next two years, while any increase in the third year will be determined through arbitration.

But AUNBT president Miriam Jones said the victory isn’t in the numbers, it’s in the language of the new agreement.

“The thing we’re really happy about is we have the acknowledgement of the importance of us being comparable,” Jones said. “What’s really important is we’ve got acknowledgement that we’re behind [in our pay with comparable universities] and we need to catch up. Those are the significant things for us.”

Since this is a tentative agreement the union membership still needs to vote on it. This involves having a membership meeting next week, which is expected to take place Tuesday. She said voting would likely take place Feb. 5 and Feb. 6 . However, classes for students will resume Monday.

“You can end the strike and the lockout pending a vote,” Jones said. “But if the vote goes south, we’re back out so that would be weird. I would be very surprised if that happened.”

On Jan. 27, Jody Carr, New Brunswick Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, ordered both parties back to the table with an appointed negotiator. Jan. 30 was their second day of meetings.

Mount Allison University

Meanwhile, Mount Allison University professors have ended their first week of striking.

All classes have been suspended and no future negotiating dates have been set as of publication.

Mount Allison Faculty Association president Loralea Michaelis said the university’s proposals regarding workload, support for the academic mission, replacements for leave, salaries, pensions, benefits and pay for part-time faculty remained unchanged throughout the negotiation process.

“The employer is still sticking to proposals that our members have told us are unacceptable,” Michaelis told the Argosy.

However, according to a release from Mt. A’s vice-president academic Karen Grant, the university isn’t proposing anything that limits professors’ academic freedom.

“The university has not put forward a single proposal that restricts, inhibits, or compromises academic freedom or the control of individuals’ teaching or research in any way,” the release read.

“We have repeatedly asked the faculty association to tell us which proposals they take issue with. They have not responded.”

On Jan. 31, professors held a rally march around the university where they received a million dollar cheque from the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

“It’s great. We know the war chest will hold out … as long as it needs to,” Michaelis told the Argosy at the march.

Like the UNB Student Union did, the Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU) has decided to take a neutral stance on the strike.

“At the end of the day, we feel that being neutral […] is in the best interests of students,” MASU President Melissa O’Rourke told the Argosy.

“For us to be able to continue enhancing the student experience at Mt. A, it really is important that we’re able to work with both parties.”

With files from Christopher Balcom (the Argosy) and Nick Murray (the Brunswickan).