A Nova Scotia labour relations tribunal has granted Acadia University Faculty Association's application to combine its full-time and part-time academic staff bargaining units.
In issuing its decision, the tribunal said it was satisfied that there was "sufficient community of interest between the two bargaining units to combine into one." The decision came last month after a three-day hearing before the Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board.
The university had opposed the application, asserting the employees did "not have a community of interest."
In its ruling, the NSLRB held that "From the student perspective, the professorate assigns readings, gives lectures, conducts evaluation of performance in a variety of ways and provides feedback in different forms including final grades. While part-time faculty do not have formal research responsibilities, their teaching of credit courses gives them more in common with full-time faculty than have the librarians and instructors who are in the 'full-time' unit."
Furthermore, "The manner of remuneration of full-time faculty (salary with the full range of employment benefits) is different from the course stipends received by part-time instructors; however the full-time faculty who engage in overload teaching or give continuing or distance education courses are paid for that work on the same basis as part-time instructors.
"There are certainly common collective bargaining issues here."
The board also noted the similarities in academic qualifications, the fact that some faculty shift from full-time contract appointments to part-time instructor status, their frequent contact at the department level, and the application of senate regulations and departmental policy to all teaching work.
Faculty association president Janice Best said faculty were delighted at the decision.
"It just makes sense to have everyone negotiate together. We're confident that a single bargaining unit will be able to make gains for all AUFA members."
CAUT president Victor Catano said the decision will have an impact on other organizing drives and labour board applications, and reinforces what CAUT has been saying all along.
"Academic staff are stronger together."
He noted single bargaining units make it more difficult for the administration to divide and conquer.
"Winning improvements for contract academic staff benefits all of us. Acadia's new arrangement will foster solidarity between members and give them a stronger voice at the table."