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Faculty strike at Acadia University in N.S. forces cancellation of classes

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Faculty strike at Acadia University in N.S. forces cancellation of classes
WATCH: Faculty at Acadia University are now on strike -- meaning all classes and labs are cancelled. The faculty association accuses administration of dragging its heels on bargaining, while the university won't comment on details. Callum Smith reports. – Feb 1, 2022

University in Nova Scotia were cancelled Tuesday after faculty members went on strike.

Officials at the school in Wolfville, N.S., said the cancellations were necessary because the university’s administration and its 350-member faculty association failed to reach a new collective agreement before a legal strike deadline passed at midnight Monday night.

The administration issued a statement saying the university would remain open to provide what it called core services and resources, but all classes would be cancelled until further notice.

The Acadia University Faculty Association wants the university to increase the number of tenured faculty, offer higher wages and better working conditions for part-time faculty, and a commitment to increasing the diversity of faculty through dedicated positions for Indigenous people.

The union is also calling for a contract clause that would ensure salaries for full and part-time faculty do not fall below cost of living increases.

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Dale Keefe, a university vice-president, said contract negotiations started last July, but a provincially appointed conciliator called for a two-week cooling-off period on Jan. 14 after the two sides reached an impasse. Talks resumed on Jan. 26 and 27, but as of Monday, all communications were being handled through the conciliator.

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“We are deeply troubled that this situation impacts students,” Keefe said in a statement. “While there is currently disagreement on what the final collective agreement contains, both parties ultimately want the best for our students.”

The association issued a statement rejecting the latest offer from the university’s board of governors.

“Unfortunately, the board’s latest counterproposal does not bring us closer to an agreement that achieves these essential investments,” association president Andrew Biro said in a statement.

“We value the quality education Acadia provides its students, and Acadia’s faculty have gone above and beyond to support our students through these past two years of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, the board has been unwilling to acknowledge the importance of faculty.”

Biro said the board has refused to take the collective bargaining process seriously.

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In November, 90 per cent of the union’s members took part in a vote that authorized a strike, with 94 per cent voting in favour of walking off the job.

The association represents full-time and part-time professors, librarians, archivists and instructors at Acadia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2022.

 

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