Hopes for a Quick Settlement of Acadia Faculty Strike Dashed

    WOLFVILLE, NS, Oct. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - The negotiating teams of the Acadia
University Faculty Association (AUFA) and Board of Governors met Wednesday
evening at the Board's request; however, the discussion was short lived.
    "We are very disappointed with the Board's most recent offer, as well as
their decision to walk away from negotiations almost immediately after our
team indicated that the offer was unacceptable," said AUFA President
Dr. Peter Williams. "All along our wish has been to get back to the bargaining
table. We took the invitation to restart negotiations two days into the strike
as a hopeful sign that the Board was committed to ending the strike and moving
forward. But their offer provided almost no significant change from the offer
that our members overwhelmingly rejected in June and again in September. We
think it is particularly unfair not just to our members but also to our
students and their parents, to get people's hopes up for what turned out to be
an offer that was clearly not designed to negotiate an end to the strike."
    In their offer, the Board's team did indicate that they were prepared to
allow the word "equity" to appear in the contract. However, the financial
package contained no improvements, and would increase inequities among faculty
members. The Board offered to add a fourth year to the contract, but the
lengthened contract would still see Acadia faculty salary grids fall further
below regional averages. Acadia faculty salary grids are currently 6% below
the average in Atlantic Canada, and about 20% below the national average.
Under the Board's offer, Acadia would also remain the only university in
Canada not providing its faculty with a dental plan.
    At the heart of this most recent labour dispute is the union's commitment
to maintain the high quality of education Acadia University students receive.
It believes that the integrity of academic programs at the university will
erode should faculty complement be reduced and compensation for its members
fail to move towards to regional and national norms, as was promised by
Acadia's President, Dr. Gail Dinter-Gottlieb, in 2004. Treatment of part-time
faculty, librarians, and instructors is also a sticking point. Acadia ranks
3rd overall amongst 21 small, primarily undergraduate universities in the
annual MacLean's university report card. However, when the average income for
all ranks of faculty in the same universities is compared, Acadia comes second
to last. While providing an education that is one of the best available in
Canada, Acadia's professors are amongst the most poorly compensated.
    Support for the Faculty Association has been coming in from numerous
sources. Over 100 Acadia students participated in a student organized march to
support striking faculty on Wednesday morning. Accompanied by a police escort,
students marched along Wolfville's main street waving placards and chanting
slogans. On Friday morning flying pickets from across Canada will show their
support for the AUFA, joining its members on the picket line.

For further information:

For further information: Andrew Biro, AUFA spokesperson, (902) 542-1796,
(902)692-9801 (cell), andrew.biro@gmail.com, http://www.caut.ca/aufa/

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