Sackville, NB – On December 20, 2013, the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Jody Carr issued his decision not to appoint a conciliation board in the current labour negotiations between the Mount Allison Faculty Association and Mount Allison University.
“We are very pleased with the news. This marks a turning point for labour relations in New Brunswick,” says MAFA President Loralea Michaelis.
Earlier in December, the Minister decided not to appoint a conciliation board in negotiations between the University of New Brunswick and its academic staff union.
Conciliation boards are allowed under New Brunswick labour legislation but were rarely used until the previous government, the Liberals under Premier Shawn Graham, began appointing conciliations boards in the university sector. Conciliation boards are controversial because they can prolong negotiations. They can also be expensive for both parties, as well as the government.
“We firmly believe that the best agreements are reached through free and unconstrained collective bargaining,” Dr. Michaelis said.
“We applaud the Alward government for reconsidering what was beginning to look like a new policy on collective bargaining in the university sector. We would like to offer particular thanks to our provincial organization, the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations, for their hard work in making the case for free collective bargaining,” she said.
The Mount Allison Faculty Association began negotiating with Mount Allison University on June 4 and filed for conciliation on August 8. Despite numerous sessions at the table with the assistance of the conciliator, the parties were unable to reach an agreement. The conciliator filed her report on December 9. Now that the Minister has decided not to appoint a conciliation board, a countdown begins: by December 29, MAFA will be in a legal position to call a strike vote and the Employer will be in a legal position to impose a lockout.
The Minister has appointed a mediator to assist the parties through the next stage of the process. MAFA has approached the University with a proposal to put the possibility of any labour action, including a strike vote or a lockout, on hold until January 6.
“We look forward to continuing negotiations with the Employer in the New Year,” said Michaelis. “There are some very serious issues yet to resolve. We are committed to maintaining Mount Allison as one of Canada’s leading undergraduate universities and we are confident that the administration will recognize the importance of faculty and librarians to this mission.”
MAFA represents 160 full-time and 50 part-time academic staff. Both full-time and part-time collective agreements expired on June 30, 2013.
For further information, call Dr. Loralea Michaelis at (506) 364-2289.