Ready to strike

Queen's takes next step towards lockout or strike

Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) could soon be in a legal strike or lockout position after the administration applied for a No Board report on July 25. The union’s bargaining unit has been in negotiations with the University for the past six months.

A No Board report calls an end to conciliation meetings and can be filed by either party if negotiations are found to be insufficient.

QUFA represents approximately 1,100 tenured and adjunct faculty and librarians.

“For an undergraduate student, [a strike or lockout] would effectively stop formal classroom work,” QUFA President Paul Young said. “All formal teaching stops and that inevitably closes down the institution.”

The Ministry of Labour must now issue the No Board report to the University, a process that normally takes a week. Once the report is issued, a 17-day time period must elapse before a strike or lockout can legally occur.

Conciliation meetings between the bargaining unit and the administration took place on July 21 and 22. Young said he was surprised that the administration ended conciliation.

“There was some small opening with respect to the pension negotiations,” he said in reference to the administration’s plan to increase faculty contributions to the pension plan contributions. “We probably took that as some room for further development.”

The administration has stated that increased contributions are necessary to balance the University’s deficit.

QUFA had hoped to negotiate faculty salaries which the administration was proposing to alter, he said.

Young said the reasons behind the University’s decision to file the No Board report are open to speculation.

QUFA has leased a strike headquarters and are in negotiation meetings amongst membership.

“We’ve already started mobilizing for a strike,” he said. “Typically, when negotiations have gotten to this level, one in five [unions] go on strike.”

Young said QUFA will not interfere with graduate students’ employment, but if the University locked out faculty from buildings, graduate students may find it difficult to continue working.

A mediation meeting, in a final effort to reach an agreement has been scheduled for Aug. 11. Young said it’s the first and possibly last mediation meeting.

Though he’s unsure about what will happen next, Young said this is just one example of how the atmosphere at Queen’s has changed.

“Everybody’s unionized and I think that’s a simple statement that the climate has changed,” he said. “That’s a statement about a sense of unease or unhappiness.”

Ellie Sadinsky, director of Queen’s communications, said the administration applying for the No Board Report doesn’t mean that a strike or lockout will occur.

“The University remains very much focused on reaching a negotiated settlement,” she said, adding that the administration ending conciliation meetings was simply a request for things to move forward.

“We’re certainly planning for a full academic year,” she said. “We’ve got more than a month, so the approach going into mediation is very much one focused on negotiated settlements.”

Sadinsky said the University is developing strategies for the possibility of a lockout or strike.

“It would be irresponsible not to have contingencies ready if needed,” she said.

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