Ten­ta­tive agree­ment

CBU, union both rec­om­mend­ing rat­i­fi­ca­tion of con­tract

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING

Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity and the union rep­re­sent­ing its fac­ulty have reached a ten­ta­tive agree­ment and are both rec­om­mend­ing rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the con­tract.

CBU and the Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity Fac­ulty As­so­ci­a­tion (CBUFA) jointly an­nounced the de­vel­op­ment Thurs­day. It came just weeks af­ter the as­so­ci­a­tion had set a dead­line to reach a deal or they would go out on strike.

The agree­ment is sub­ject to rat­i­fi­ca­tion by both the CBU board of gov­er­nors and the CBUFA mem­ber­ship. CBUFA spokesper­son An­drew Reynolds said no rat­i­fi­ca­tion date has yet been set for the fac­ulty as­so­ci­a­tion.

The par­ties had ear­lier an­nounced that they had reached an agree­ment on what had been iden­ti­fied as the most con­tentious is­sue in the con­tract talks, the lay­off clause.

“We hope that this is a sig­nal that the board of gov­er­nors and the se­nior man­age­ment are go­ing to look upon the fac­ulty as part­ners from here on in to man­age the place and not look upon us as ad­ver­saries or prob­lem that needs to be man­aged,” Reynolds said. “The last year or two has not been very con­struc­tive.”

CBUFA has been in a le­gal strike po­si­tion since Dec. 26 and could have walked off the job or be locked out by the univer­sity with 48 hours no­tice.

Talks be­tween the sides re­sumed last month with the help of a con­cil­ia­tor. “We are look­ing for­ward to mov­ing past this and work­ing with mem­bers of CBUFA and the CBU com­mu­nity to make 2017 a great year at Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity,” CBU in­terim pres­i­dent Dale Keefe said in a news re­lease.

Reynolds has taught at the univer­sity for 17 years, and was in his first year there when fac­ulty did go out on strike. While it wasn’t a prospect he was look­ing for­ward to pos­si­bly re­vis­it­ing, he said he learned a lot from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I think what that taught me and a lot of peo­ple was the im­por­tance of the union and the force that the union can be, unit­ing peo­ple’s in­ter­ests and their ef­forts,” he said. “I think in this case if it hadn’t been for our sin­gu­lar­ity of pur­pose and our ex­pres­sion of will­ing­ness to ac­tu­ally go out on strike for what we thought was so im­por­tant, to pro­tect not just jobs but pro­grams, we might not have had the res­o­lu­tion that we had.”

Word of the ten­ta­tive deal came as a re­lief to stu­dents, noted Roy Karam, pres­i­dent of the CBU stu­dents’ union.

“Re­lief would prob­a­bly even be an un­der­state­ment,” Karam said in an in­ter­view. “The fact that a ten­ta­tive agree­ment had ac­tu­ally been reached now of­fers stu­dents a lot more hope.”

The po­ten­tial for a strike has been a dom­i­nant topic of con­ver­sa­tion among stu­dents since prior to the Christ­mas break, he noted.

“For­tu­nately stu­dents are go­ing to be able to put that con­ver­sa­tion to bed now and just fo­cus on their school­ing,” Karam said.

On Dec. 9, the Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity board of gov­er­nors voted to re­ject a ten­ta­tive col­lec­tive agree­ment that was reached be­tween for­mer univer­sity pres­i­dent David Wheeler and the CBUFA. The fac­ulty as­so­ci­a­tion had voted 92 per cent in favour of the agree­ment. The same day, the board also ap­proved a set­tle­ment agree­ment sev­er­ing Wheeler’s em­ploy­ment with the univer­sity. In re­ject­ing the con­tract, board chair Am­brose White said the is­sue wasn’t with the con­tents of the ten­ta­tive agree­ment it­self but rather the process un­der which it was reached, as it was done with­out the in­volve­ment of the board’s ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tee.

CBUFA rep­re­sents 152 pro­fes­sors, li­brar­i­ans, ar­chiv­ists, lab in­struc­tors, nurs­ing prac­tice ed­u­ca­tors and re­search chairs.

Reynolds

CAPE BRE­TON POST PHOTO

Stu­dents make their way across Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity’s cam­pus Thurs­day. CBU and the Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity Fac­ulty As­so­ci­a­tion jointly an­nounced that they have reached a ten­ta­tive con­tract deal.

Keefe

Karam

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