Acadia University is facing another showdown with its faculty and staff after the school's faculty association announced Tuesday it had set a strike deadline for Nov. 27.
A walkout would affect 331 full-time and part-time professors and instructors, as well as library staff and archivists. It would be the third strike at the Wolfville, N.S., school in 13 years.
"What we want more than anything is a negotiated collective agreement that is fair and equitable and responds to the reasonable demands and proposals that we have," said Rachel Brickner, who teaches political science and speaks for the Acadia University Faculty Association.
"None of us want [a strike]. This is really the worst case scenario for us."
The association and Acadia University's board of governors have been trying to reach a new collective agreement since March, but according to Brickner, the university hasn't made much effort to address the concerns of association members.
"The board of governors' team is simply unwilling to come to the table and deal with us in a reasonable way and to address in fair and reasonable terms the demands that we have," she said.
Those demands include restoring full-time faculty positions, salary increases and a commitment to raise funds for a campus child-care centre. According to Brickner, the university should have 182 tenure-stream positions for faculty members but there are currently only 150.
'Going very well'
Jeff Banks, who sits on the negotiating team for the board of governors, on Tuesday painted a rosier picture of the ongoing talks.
"They've been going very well," he said. "They've been respectful. We've worked well together on a number of items early and right now we're just having a few … we're just, you know, negotiating. We're still negotiating on some of the financial matters."
Banks said a key concern for the board is reaching a deal that is both "affordable and sustainable."
For students, the more immediate concern is the timing of a possible disruption.
"It's not a great time," said Grace Hamilton-Burge, president of the Acadia Students' Union. "It's too close to exams. A labour action at any point is not in the best interests of students, especially this close to exams.
"We are urging both parties to negotiate without a labour action. We want to make sure that students come first in this and that they are not negatively affected in any way."
Negotiators from the faculty association and board of governors are scheduled to meet again on Thursday.
Members of the faculty association also walked off the job in 2004 and 2007.