On Oct. 15 the Mount Allison Faculty Association Executive applied for conciliation. The collective agreement expired at the end of June and by Oct. 27 there had been thirty-one negotiating sessions. Key issues remain unresolved although the parties have managed to agree in principle on about half the articles in the collective agreement.
In this round of negotiations MAFA's priorities are to address issues relating to quality, equity, and respect. Issues that remain unresolved include appointments, parental leaves, early retirement, the use of official files, discipline, and salaries -- all areas of conflict in administering the last collective agreement.
The university currently has a four-year proposal on the table offering a $1,600 increase to each step in the scale in the first year of the agreement. Changes to the scales (either increases or decreases) for subsequent years would be negotiated at the beginning of each year of the agreement. The university claims it cannot plan for more than one year at a time because of uncertainties in provincial funding.
MAFA's current proposal is for increases to the salary scale of seven per cent in the first year, eight per cent in the second year, and five per cent in the third year. In the last two sets of negotiations (1992 and 1995) the faculty association made major concessions in salaries to help the university with its reported financial difficulties. However, in the last seven years, while the university has used operating surpluses to repair buildings, faculty salaries have fallen to near the bottom of the group of small universities in Canada. With each passing year the possibility of catching up to an average salary within this group becomes more difficult.
The university while agreeing there may be an impasse over salary refused to join the application for conciliation. The two sides continue to negotiate. If the conciliation process is unable to resolve the outstanding issues, MAFA will be in a position to take a strike vote.
Mount Allison feature supplied by Hans vanderLeest, past president of Mount Allison Faculty Association.