With the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) ready to strike if the University does not make concessions during upcoming negotiations, students are wondering where they fit in.
A QUFA strike could take place at the end of February. QUFA and Queen’s will continue the collective bargaining process on Feb. 7 to Feb 10. At AMS Assembly on Jan. 26, QUFA member Elizabeth Hanson said if there’s no agreement by Feb. 10, QUFA will ask for a “no-board.”
Once a “no-board” report is filed, there is a 17-day cooling period before QUFA can strike or the University can “lock-out” faculty members. The Ministry of Labour releases a no-board report in response to no agreement during the negotiation period.
“They’re going to tell the conciliator, this train is not going anywhere, and you want to start the clock ticking down to job action,” Hanson said. “We are in a position where, if we cannot get to an agreement with the University at the table that is satisfactory, we can take our members out.”
A QUFA strike means QUFA members would cease their work for the University, including running classes, research, and service work. QUFA members would have to take to the picket lines or participate in strike activities to qualify for strike pay.
“The point of a strike is to disrupt classes. That’s the thing that gives power,” Hanson said.
QUFA has rented a strike headquarters on Princess Street in the case a strike does occur. Hanson said a strike would likely “not last very long.”
The University could take job action by locking out employees, including suspending their access to their Outlook account, labs, and benefits during a strike.
Negotiations between QUFA and Queen’s have been ongoing since June 2022, when the two parties’ collective agreement expired. Bargaining was complicated by the Ford government’s introduction of Bill 124, which capped wage increases for public sector employees. The bill has since been struck down.
“I was chief negotiator for QUFA for a couple of rounds, and I still cannot believe what a mess I think the University’s made this round,” Hanson said.
QUFA has proposed a four per cent compensation increase for members across the board backdated to July 2022. According to Hanson, the University has not tabled any compensation proposal.
QUFA has three negotiating priorities: improving job security for adjunct professors at Queen’s, protecting faculty in the case of insolvency, and creating a working group to focused on retaining faculty.
“Despite the many difficulties we have outlined above, we remain optimistic and hopeful that the University will come back to the table ready to make a fair deal for our members,” Chief Negotiators Amy Kaufman and Leslie Jermyn said in QUFA’s most recent press release.
The University did not respond to The Journal’s request for an interview or provide a statement in time for publication.
“We remain committed to the collective bargaining process to reach a negotiated agreement, and to providing an exceptional educational environment for our students,” the University said in a news release on Jan. 30.
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