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Strike at Mount Saint Vincent University now in its second week

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One-hundred-and-sixty full-time Mount Saint Vincent University faculty members, librarians and lab instructors remain off the job as of Monday.

According to the union, the expired contract is 35-years-old and requires a major update in areas including equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility.

The union wants new language to be written in to offer protection for equity seeking groups.

Salaries are also a sticking point.

"Spirits are high and we have been going to the picket line throughout the week and our faculty feels united,” said union spokesperson and political science professor Jeff MacLeod.

However, at this stage, MacLeod said striking employees do not see any signs of progress that point to a deal being reached anytime soon.

“The Board's bargaining team continues to work through the conciliators and remains open to receiving and discussing any further proposals from the MSVUFA. We want to see an end to the strike,” said Kelly Gallant, MSVU associate vice-president of University relations, in an email on Sunday

Gallant also highlighted some areas that showed progress was being made in negotiations:

  1. The MSVU Board’s bargaining team proposed the entire agreement be revised to reflect gender neutral language and the faculty association has agreed.
  2. The faculty association proposed for the article on the Joint Committee for the Administration of the Collective Agreement to be revised to provide that, “Upon agreement of both parties, internal or external advisors on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility may be invited to the committee as a resource on EDIA matters.” The Board’s bargaining team agreed.
  3. The Board’s bargaining team proposed EDIA training for all faculty association members sitting on appointment, tenure and promotion committees. The faculty association agreed.
  4. The faculty association proposed that the collective agreement include a territorial acknowledgement. The Board’s bargaining team proposed a non-abrogation of treaty rights clause. The Board’s bargaining team told the faculty association that it accepted inclusion of the territorial acknowledgement.
  5. Following a proposal presented by the Board’s bargaining team, the parties agreed on the following statement: “The parties acknowledge the value of diversity of people, knowledge, and ways of knowing in our community. The parties further acknowledge the role that our University, as an educational institution, has played in the perpetuation of colonial systems, both historically and in contemporary times. We acknowledge the need to learn and change and to demonstrate respect for and to work towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and other marginalized populations.”
  6. The Board’s bargaining team proposed “a candidate for reappointment, tenure or promotion may include written comments about in-class or program topics from Indigenous organizations and/or community representatives, Indigenous Elders, and/or Knowledge Holders/Carriers/Keepers about a Member’s Teaching.” The faculty association agreed.

However, MacLeod was not as optimistic about the current state of negotiations.

“There hasn’t been a lot of communication between the two sides other than a brief exchange…in the middle of last week but nothing (the) last few days,” said Macleod. “We want this to be settled and we want everyone to get together in a room for two bargaining teams to come in and settle this strike. That’s what we are asking for.”

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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