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Dalhousie Faculty Association votes in favour of strike if agreement can’t be reached

A man walks across the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Monday, March 16, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan) A man walks across the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Monday, March 16, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Faculty at Dalhousie University in Halifax say they are prepared to strike if a new collective agreement isn’t reached at the bargaining table.

This week, more than 92 per cent of Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) members who cast a ballot – about 82 per cent -- voted to strike, according to the association.

“This gives our bargaining team a powerful strike mandate as we head into conciliation early in the new year,” said David Westwood, president of the DFA, in a news release.

“With this vote, we have told the Board in no uncertain terms that we will not accept an offer that would undermine equity and fairness, and that would erode fundamental academic principles that lie at the heart of this institution.”

The association has been without a contract since June 30. It filed a notice to bargain on April 1.

Talks started on Sept. 29 and both sides have met nine times. The association says the Dalhousie board has cancelled two other scheduled meetings.

“The two sides remain very far apart of several issues,” said Westwood.

According to the release, one of the biggest issues in negotiations is an increase in salary.

The average salary for full-time teaching staff at Dalhousie, including deans and medical/dental faculty, sits at $141,343, according to the university.

The association says the board offered a three-year contract with a salary increase of 2 per cent in the first year, and 1.5 per cent in the two years following.

The association says this is less, over a three-year period, than the increases negotiated by Acadia, Université de Ste. Anne, and the Nova Scotia Civil Service.

The DFA filled for conciliation on Nov. 9. That is set to happen on Jan. 4 and 5.

Conciliation is a process where an impartial third party is brought in to help both sides resolve their differences. Peter Lloyd, who was the conciliator in the 2020 round of collective bargaining, will serve in the same role this time.

If an agreement isn’t reached during conciliation, the DFA says Lloyd will submit a “no board report” to the minister of labour.

If that report were filed, there would be a two-week “cooling off” period. After that, strike action could start.

“Nobody -- including faculty members -- wants a strike,” said Westwood in the release.

“On the heels of the CUPE strike earlier this fall, the disruption caused by job action is fresh in everyone’s minds. But our membership is prepared to take that step should the Board refuse to put a reasonable set of proposals on the table.”

The DFA is the certified bargaining agent for more than 1,000 professors, instructors, librarians and professional counsellors at Dalhousie.

This round of negotiations comes a little after a month after CUPE -- the union representing some 1,500 part-time academics, teaching assistants, markers, and demonstrators at Dalhousie – reached a new collective agreement with the school’s board following a strike by its members. Top Stories

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