Sackville, NB – On January 13 and 14, 2014, academic staff at Mount Allison University voted overwhelmingly in favour of authorizing the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) to call a strike if necessary in an effort to reach a deal with the administration.
Of full-time faculty and librarians who voted, 86% voted in favour of a strike; of part-time faculty who voted, 86% also voted in favour. Turnout of eligible voters was high: 99% of full-time and 88% of part-time faculty voted.
“The strong result shows our members’ resolve to protect the academic mission of Mount Allison and its role in providing a supportive community for intellectual development and academic excellence,” said MAFA President Loralea Michaelis.
Salary, pension, and benefits remain areas of disagreement, but key differences concern workload and the control that faculty have over their own teaching and research.
“The administration has tabled a series of proposals that would take away academic protections in the areas of teaching and research, eroding fairness in performance evaluations, tenure, promotion, and sabbatical leaves. Their proposals strike at the very heart of the principles of academic freedom and collegial governance which are fundamental to the university,” Michaelis added.
Full-time faculty hiring at Mount Allison has not kept pace with rising student enrollments over the last decade, with the result that faculty are experiencing heavier workloads.
“Increased class sizes and gaps left in programs when faculty who retire or resign are not replaced have meant that faculty have to overwork to maintain the high levels of excellence for which Mount Allison is known,” according to Michaelis.
“Instead of seeking greater control over our work, the administration should be addressing these workload issues and investing resources in our ability to do our work well.”
The Association is hoping that the strike vote result prompts the administration to return to the bargaining table to resolve all outstanding matters.
“Our members are preparing to do what it takes to ensure protection for academic freedom and to secure adequate resources so that we can continue to provide the high quality of scholarship and teaching that our students expect and deserve,” said Michaelis.
MAFA represents 154 full-time and 56 part-time academic staff, and has been in negotiations for its full- and part-time members since early June 2013.