Cape Breton University officials and the faculty association reached a tentative contract agreement Jan. 21, averting a strike by faculty, librarians, lab instructors and nursing practice educators that could have started as early as three days later.
In November, 84 per cent of the 168 members of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association voted in favour of strike action, after negotiations between the union and administrators reached an impasse.
The faculty association had been in extensive talks with the administration since the previous contract ended on June 30, 2013, including two days of formal meetings in late December with a provincially-appointed conciliator in a bid to break the deadlock over issues of workload and compensation. The consensus reached last month as strike action loomed large came as the result of another round of conciliation talks.
“Our negotiating team did an incredible job,” said faculty association president Scott Stewart. “When negotiations broke down, the employer was willing to give some of our members a reduction in teaching workload from 18 credits to 15, which is in keeping with our comparator group, but wanted to increase the teaching workload of some of our members to 30 credits. Our team was successful in combatting that. Now our faculty will either receive 15 credits of teaching or 18 credits per year.”
The three-year deal, ratified by 74 per cent of union members who took part in the vote, also provides a wage increase of 6 per cent over the term of the agreement.
“We were also able to clean up and make improvements to a number of other articles,” Stewart said. “And while we had solid support for the agreement, it is the closest ratification we have ever had and shows that a number of our members are not happy with the deal. We will have to work diligently to try and correct that in the next round of bargaining.”