WOLFVILLE, N.S. (CUP) - Following an overwhelming rejection by Acadia University faculty of the administration's latest offer, contract negotiations have resumed at a heightened pace.|
On Jan. 20, 97 per cent of the 171 faculty members voting on the latest offer rejected it. And 95 per cent of 163 participating faculty members cast ballots in favour of setting a strike vote for Feb. 2 and 3, providing a tentative agreement is not reached by that time.
According to Jim Sacouman, President of Acadia's faculty association, the tallies indicate "overwhelming support" for the faculty negotiating team and its executive.
Talks between faculty and representatives of the Board of Governors resumed Jan. 24, and are expected to continue until Jan. 29. They had previously been at a standstill. A provincially-appointed conciliator had been called in earlier this month to help the two sides reach an agreement, but left after just two days when the sides
|deadlocked over what was on the table for negotiations.|
As with previous talks, no details are being released to the media.
"All I can say is that talks are continuing, and that's information in itself," Sacouman said.
Acadia students have been frustrated with the lack of progress in contract negotiations, which started last fall. Earlier this month they staged a day-long sit-in at an administration building, and there have been calls for the resignations of both Sacouman and Acadia president Kelvin Olgilvie.
Acadia Students' Union President Paul Black says he welcomes the resumed talks. And while he says he is concerned about the tight time frame under which negotiations are taking place, he adds that the looming deadline could spur action.
"[It] may lend some urgency to the matter," Black said. Acadia's President says it is important that the two sides are talking.
"The only way progress can occur is if the two teams are at the bargaining table and we will hope that progress can be made," Olgilvie said.|
The two main issues of contention between faculty and administration are salaries and the language of the new contract.
The faculty is calling for a five per cent raise retroactive to last November and in each of the next two years. The administration is only willing to give faculty the five per cent retroactive raise, with smaller increases in each of the next two years.
Faculty also say the wording of the new contract may radically alter some of the fundamental operations of the university, such as grievance procedures and tenure.
"The Board of Governors is attempting to eliminate Acadia's traditional collegial process of university governance and academic freedom," Sacouman stated in a press release last week.