In their first meeting since they voted in favour of an unlimited strike mandate, the Concordia University Faculty Association has come to a tentative agreement with the university following 16 months of collective bargaining.
On March 18, CUFA met with university administration for a full day and night of conciliation where it was agreed by a majority vote of approximately 80 per cent that the tentative agreement had to be submitted to the membership for ratification.
In accordance with article 12.5 of the CUFA constitution, CUFA met again on March 28 to vote on a motion presented by the executive to recommend the negotiated collective agreement for confirmation.
“We hope that the membership will follow the recommendation of both the CUFA executive and the CUFA council and vote in favour of the collective agreement,” said CUFA President Lucie Lequin.
CUFA released a statement listing gains made in conciliation which were addressed early in the month as issues. These gains include increased stipends for department chairs and extra teaching, compensation for extended-term faculty professors for excessive number of course preparations and an increased professional development allowance.
The union did hope for a better agreement but said that it “is in our view, the best deal possible at this point in time.” In the same statement, it is noted that the cuts to post-secondary education made by the provincial government are “draconian.”
Following the special meeting, two more meetings for the entire membership will be held on April 4. The meetings will be taking place on each campus, to elaborate on the different elements of the deal and to answer any questions or concerns.
This will be followed on the same day by a secret ballot which is to be conducted electronically over the course of five working days. This will constitute the third and last step, according to Lequin.
“We understand that the agreement in principle is going through the CUFA ratification process over the coming days,” said university spokesperson Chris Mota. “And we look forward to receiving the results.”
This tentative agreements comes after 74 per cent of CUFA’s union membership voted on an unlimited strike mandate. This vote allows the union to go on strike with 48-hours notice.
Concordia President Alan Shepard told The Concordian that he hopes future labour relations will improve with additional staff to “provide proper engagement” since management was significantly understaffed during this round of negotiations.
“I would love us to embark on a bit of a new era at Concordia where we find common ground with our unions and other associations and look for projects that we can do together so that we can continue to have a positive climate,” Shepard said. “We need to figure out collectively, ‘how can we do collective bargaining in a faster way that doesn’t drag it out for years?’ because I don’t think that serves anyone’s interests.”
With files from Marilla Steuter-Martin