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Carleton University’s faculty union to hold strike vote

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

The association representing hundreds of faculty members at Carleton University is planning to hold a strike vote next week, claiming their year-long bargaining process with university administration has taken a turn for the worse.

A successful vote would not result in an immediate strike but would give the union the power to call a strike, provided it’s in a legal position to do so.

The association’s council unanimously approved calling a strike vote at a meeting held Friday. Strike vote polls will be held on campus on May 16 and May 17, with advancing polling on May 14.

READ MORE: Carleton University names Benoit-Antoine Bacon as new president

The Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) represents 850 faculty, professional librarians and instructor employees at the Ottawa university.

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The faculty association and university management began negotiations in August and have reportedly had 26 bargaining sessions since then.

University denies union claim Carleton is moving to lock out faculty

On May 2, the association said Carleton informed its members it was filing for conciliation through the Ontario Ministry of Labour. In a bargaining process, either side is able to file for a conciliator — a neutral third-party figure whose job is to help both sides reach a collective agreement.

In a post published the same day on the faculty association’s website, the association called the university’s move a “procedural ambush on the negotiation process” and claimed the university has yet to address “numerous outstanding proposals” and has failed to provide information it promised to disclose.

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“Based on the Employer’s behaviour, your team has reason to believe that the Employer is preparing for an unnecessary lock-out,” the post alleged.

On its end, Carleton said that recruiting assistance from a provincial negotiator would be “helpful for both parties” because of the time spent so far at the bargaining table. Without explicitly pointing fingers at the union, the Ottawa-based university insisted in a statement that “raising the possibility of a lockout, when none is planned, increases tension unnecessarily.”

“This step was taken to bring this round of bargaining to resolution, not to lock out faculty,” a statement said. “Conciliation is a normal part of the process.”

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The university said it reached out to the faculty association both by phone and email to propose bringing a mediator into the picture, but the union never responded.

Carleton “remains committed” to resuming negotiations and reaching a settlement, the university said.

Neither the union’s office nor the association’s president, Root Gorelick, have responded to requests for comment.

READ MORE: Carleton University reaches tentative agreement to end strike

The union says the two parties have hit roadblocks on issues like salaries, benefits and pensions, as well as a gender pay equity plan the association proposed in order to ensure female professors are paid on the same level as their male counterparts. Carleton’s statement said the parties have already reached common ground “in a number of areas” but that “some issues remain unresolved.”

Obviously, we are hoping we can resolve outstanding issues and achieve a fair deal for our members without resorting to a strike or being forced into a lockout,” the union said in an update published Monday on its website. “However, we need to prepare for all possible scenarios.”

The union is scheduled to hold two information sessions on the matter Wednesday (May 9) and the following Wednesday (May 16) from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the Carleton campus.

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