As of 11 a.m. Thursday, every one of the roughly 500 members of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) is on strike after labour negotiations with the board of governors broke down.
According to ULFA president Dan O’Donnell, the two sides haven’t been able to find any middle ground on key issues.
“We think this is just a sad day,” O’Donnell said.
“Unfortunately from the management side, they’ve seen this as being all about management rights. In fact, the last thing they’ve said to us as we left the table was we can’t budge on management rights and it’s going to be a long strike.”
Negotiations have been ongoing for more than 600 days. The association’s contract ended in July 2020.
Several organizations and businesses are showing their solidarity for the faculty association, including the Owl Acoustic Lounge, the United Nurses of Alberta, and Public Interest Alberta.
“The University looks forward to resuming negotiations with ULFA soon and to discussing more reasonable positions than ULFA’s demand for 12% raises,” a statement from the school reads. “This is three times the salary increase recently awarded to Alberta’s front-line nurses, and not sustainable to the university nor affordable for our students.”
The U of L is also closing all workplaces to ULFA members Friday morning.
“As far as we’re concerned, the strike can stop this afternoon,” O’Donnell said. “It can stop tomorrow, or the week after next. Unfortunately, if we have a university administration who are prepared to harm the students the way they seem intent on doing, we can also sit it out for four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks.”
In a previous release, on Monday the U of L said it “expects a prolonged strike, which could threaten (the) semester.”
During the strike, students will not attend courses or have assignments.
The university said “it has established contingency plans to help mitigate impacts and support students. These plans are being shared with students and other stakeholders at appropriate times through the strike action.”
Global News reached out to the University of Lethbridge students’ union for comment, but did not receive a reply as of writing.
As for how long the strike will last?
“All bets are off right now, which doesn’t mean we’re back at square one,” O’Donnell said. “It just means everybody’s got to go away and think, ‘Is there a different way I can organize this?’ in order to finally come to an agreement.”