Acadia University Faculty Association has filed an unfair labour practice complaint against the university, for violating the freeze provisions of the Trade Union Act by refusing to appoint part-time faculty for the fall and winter terms.
AUFA certified a new unit of contract academic staff in the spring of 2001 and is in the process of negotiating a first contract. The faculty association applied for a conciliator in April when talks between the association and the university broke down.
Part-time faculty are normally hired in the spring to teach in the fall and winter. This year the university has imposed a hiring freeze.
In its letter of complaint to the Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board, the faculty association wrote, "AUFA has not and will not consent to the alteration in the business practice of employment of part-time instructors." Under the Act, an employer cannot alter working conditions or change employment practices while first contract negotiations are underway.
"If we hadn't been negotiating, the university would have gone ahead and hired part-timers as usual," said AUFA president Soren Bondrup-Nielsen. "What disturbs us is not the breakdown in negotiations - there is a legal process, and we're following it. But this refusal to hire seems to be little more than a power game."
A conciliator has been appointed and will meet with the two sides on June 27. Outstanding issues include compensation and benefits, the recognition of previous teaching experience in hiring procedures and access to office space and computer equipment.