PETL Media Release: Province Appoints Special Mediator

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour

Province directs parties in Mount Allison University labour dispute back to bargaining table with the appointment of special mediator

Feb. 10, 2014

FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is intervening and directing both sides in the labour dispute at Mount Allison University to resume collective bargaining with the help of a special mediator.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Jody Carr made the announcement today.

Larry Steinberg, a mediator, arbitrator and a leading Canadian labour lawyer, will meet with the Mount Allison University administration and the Mount Allison Faculty Association on Wednesday, Feb. 12, and Thursday, Feb. 13.

“This special appointment directs both parties to return to the bargaining table and highlights a new level of urgency to the process,” said Carr. “As a government, our priority is, and will continue to be, to see students finish their term with the least amount of disruption possible, while continuing to respect the collective bargaining process.”

Steinberg’s appointment is being made in accordance with the Industrial Relations Act and will follow standard procedures. There will be a media blackout.

His role will be to confer with the parties and endeavour to effect a collective agreement. As special mediator he has the power to summon witnesses, require them to give evidence under oath and produce documents for a full investigation into matters. He can also enforce the attendance of witnesses and compel them to give evidence as is vested in any court of record in civil cases. No person shall refuse to answer an interrogation or obstruct the work of the mediator.

Steinberg, a mediator and arbitrator based in Toronto, is part-time vice-chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board and a member of the Ontario Labour-Management Arbitrators’ Association. He spent his career representing unions and employees in all aspects of employment, labour, administrative and human rights law before all levels of court and tribunals.

Since last August, the administration and the union have been negotiating a new collective agreement. The provincial government has provided both parties with tools under the Industrial Relations Act – including a conciliation officer and a mediation officer – to reach this goal.
However, an agreement has not been reached, and the union exercised its right to strike beginning on Jan. 27. Last week the parties met with the government- appointed mediation officer, however, they were unable to reach a resolution.

“I understand that students and parents, among many others, are frustrated and concerned that their university education may be at risk,” Carr said. “Many students have made substantial sacrifices to pursue a post-secondary education at Mount Allison University. The success of our province depends upon a strong, adaptive and educated workforce. We recognize that our post-secondary education sector is vital to growing New Brunswick’s economy and creating jobs in order to meet the needs of our evolving labour market.”

Tyler Campbell, communications, Department of Post-Secondary, Education, Training and Labour, 506-444-3194.