On Oct. 28, 83 per cent of the full-time faculty at St. Thomas University in Fredericton turned out to vote on a new tentative agreement between FAUST and the university. The new agreement, which expires in June 1999, was ratified by a 70 per cent vote in favour of acceptance. Highlights of the settlement include the creation of a parity committee to discuss workload issues (prevalent throughout negotiations); a wage increase of 1.7 per cent in year one and 1.5 per cent in year two; an increase of about $400 in professional development allowance; and a $125 cash payment for each full-time member of the bargaining unit.
Negotiations had been ongoing for over a year. The employer was attempting to truncate workload provisions in the agreement, specifically those dealing with class size maximum and teaching/course load. The association requested the assistance of a conciliator who, in the final hours of the scheduled meetings, helped the parties reach a satisfactory agreement.
Faculty association president Dr. Gayle MacDonald says this round of bargaining served mainly to preserve the status quo rather than make substantial gains. "We are delighted to reach an agreement after such a long and arduous struggle, and one we can live with as faculty. We are well aware, however, that negotiations in the late 1990s have more to do with building better dams to stem the tide of managerial incursions into the working life of faculty, than they are about redirecting the river flow. We expect many of these issues to resurface in other ways, at future negotiating tables. However, it is now time to celebrate our victory. For the executive and the membership, I would like publicly to thank our chief negotiator, Piet Defraeye, and the members of the team over the past year Tom Good, Gary Hughes, Rebecca McKenna and Colm Kelly. The union makes us strong!"
The parties may be back at the bargaining table as early as February 1999.