CUFA holding a vote to strike

After more than 15 months of contract negotiations, Concordia University Faculty Association has been voting throughout the week on an unlimited strike mandate.

Due to their constitution the vote began on Feb. 28 and will continue online for five days, with results likely to be available by March 7 or the morning of March 8, according to Lucie Lequin, president of CUFA.

“The administration team, most of the time, came to the table not prepared and used some of the time set aside for negotiations to prepare while the CUFA team had to wait and waste time and money,” Lequin said.

If the motion is approved members of CUFA will begin actions that could include a full strike, but for a strike vote to pass it requires 60 per cent in favour.

“We are still in negotiations,” university spokesperson Chris Mota said. “We don’t want to reveal any information but there are meetings set up to meet with representatives from both CUPFA and CUFA.”

Lequin stated that negotiations should not last more than six months approximately.

“That is never the case at Concordia,” Lequin said. “This Concordia style of negotiations is very costly financially and does not create a climate of respect.”

CUFA negotiations began on Dec. 15, 2011, and the teams have met on more than 35 occasions. In December 2012, the university requested the assistance of a conciliator

from the Ministry of Labour. The parties met in January and February and further meetings are scheduled for March 1, 18, 21 and 27.

“It is really a pity that negotiations have dragged for so long without reaching an agreement acceptable to both parties,” said full-time mathematics and statistics professor at Concordia University, Jose Garrido. “ The university needs negotiations carried out in good faith, between parties acting in a responsible collegial way. We seem to be very far from that right now.”

In November, the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association voted 95 per cent in favour of an unlimited strike mandate should collective bargaining negotiations fail, but have not yet taken any strike action.

The most recent contract of CUPFA expired Aug. 31 and part-time faculty members were not satisfied with the proposal offered by the university. They took action by holding a special General Assembly pressuring the administration to further amendments to the collective agreement. Similarly, CUFA called a special meeting in early December where councillors unanimously voted for the executive to hold a strike vote.

Lequin said that normally the relationships of the CUFA office with those in the administration that deal with CUFA affairs are usually respectful and collaborative.

“Why is it so different when both sides reach the negotiations table is a mystery; we think it is a question of style that we called old-fashioned negotiations,” said Lequin.


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