Open letter to students and parents

Dear students and parents,

Last night MAFA sent out a press release announcing that we were proposing binding arbitration to settle the strike, and a return to classes on Monday as part of this proposed settlement.

The administration has distorted this message, claiming that MAFA has accepted the administration’s February 7 proposal for binding arbitration and that the strike is over.

This is completely false. We have not yet concluded any agreement with the Employer concerning the scope of binding arbitration and the terms under which the strike can be concluded. Without these agreements, there can be no end to the strike.

There are different kinds of binding arbitration. The administration has proposed “final offer selection,” a form of binding arbitration in which each party presents a complete package of proposals and the arbitrator chooses between the two. It is a high risk, ”winner take all” form of arbitration. MAFA is proposing “interest” arbitration instead, which is much narrower in scope and works through each unresolved issue on its own. Interest arbitration allows for a more balanced settlement, which is more favorable to reestablishing working relations following a labour dispute.

We are dismayed and disheartened by the confusion that the administration’s actions have created among students and parents. If it is a simple matter of confusion or miscommunication, we are amazed that the administration would make public announcements about our position without first confirming with us or without contacting the provincial mediator for clarification. The university community is not well served by such tactics.

We remain hopeful that the administration’s eagerness to report an end to the strike is a measure of their willingness to negotiate the terms of binding arbitration and a return to work protocol with us. Meetings with the administration are now being arranged for that purpose. In the meantime, the strike continues.

Please do not lose heart as a result of these events. We are doing our best to find our way through a very challenging situation. Your continuing support for serious and productive negotiations will be essential to a resolution.

Mount Allison Faculty Association