The conciliation officer has now made a report to the provincial minister of post-secondary education who is expected to decide within a few days whether to appoint a conciliation board.
Judging from their most recent statements, university administrators and the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) appear to be far apart on the terms of a new collective agreement.
In October, MAFA held a non-binding straw vote with 94% in favour of job action, including a strike, to support the union.
“The main issues under negotiation in this round include faculty and librarian complement, workload, equity and human rights, including disability accommodation, and compensation and benefits for full-time and part-time members,” a MAFA news release says.
Meantime, university administrators describe the contracts with full and part-time faculty as “mature collective agreements,” adding:
“The full-time faculty collective agreement has been in place for 35 years, while the first part-time collective agreement was signed 15 years ago. As such, we believe that negotiations should focus on a relatively small number of core subjects of interest to one or both parties.”
The administration goes on to say that the union had approximately 90 proposals on the table as of October 24th.
“At this stage of the process, such a large number of active requests for changes poses a practical impediment to constructive negotiations,” the university says.
To read all of the administration’s bargaining updates, click here.
Mount Allison faculty and librarians were on strike for three weeks in January/February of 2014.
Mt. A. seeks partnership on water
Meantime, Mount Allison is seeking the town’s help in regulating and testing its water distribution system.
“We have a need on campus related to our water system — regulations, testing and work related to that,” Robert Inglis, the university’s vice-president of finance told Sackville Town Council last week.
“As you probably know,” he added, “we have a significant water distribution system on campus and it ties into the town’s water distribution because that’s where we get our water from.”
Inglis served notice that the university’s facilities department would be approaching the town’s public works staff with ideas for working together so that the university can meet more stringent government regulations on the quality of its drinking water.
“We’re not looking for the town to pick up costs and risks that they don’t otherwise have,” Inglis said, adding that taking advantage of town staff expertise could provide an opportunity that might benefit both the university and the town.
“If not, so be it, we will meet our obligations,” he said.
When asked later for more details about the kind partnership he was referring to, Inglis responded that the university is not proposing that the town take over its water system.
He said, for example, that Mt. A. could pay town staff to conduct the testing that’s required when water is shut off to a building during renovations and then, turned back on again.
“This could be a win/win, in our view, for both our organizations, but of course the town would need to see benefits for them.”
Mt. A’s annual report
Inglis raised the possibility of a partnership with the town on water quality during his annual report to Sackville Town Council last week.
Among other things, he mentioned that with its 500 full-time employees, the university has a significant economic impact in southeastern New Brunswick.
He said that as of October 1st, Mt. A. had 2,167 full-time students.
Figures from the Association for Atlantic Universities show this is a gain from last year of 71 students for an overall increase in full-time enrollment of 3.4%.
Inglis acknowledged that in spite of this year’s increase, Mt. A., along with other smaller universities, continues to face challenges in recruiting students.
Meantime, he said Mount Allison is planning extensive renovations to its 50-year-old R.P. Bell Library, but hasn’t worked out yet how it will continue to provide library services while the project is underway.