Flying Pickets land on Antigonish!

407 academic staff at St. Francis Xavier were out on the picket lines last week after negotiations broke down. The first day was -21 degrees, there was massive rain fall on another day, and on Friday, the CAUT Defence Fund Flying (and driving) Pickets joined their colleagues on the picket lines.

I am one of the trustees representing the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa. I joined colleagues from Windsor, Guelph, Carleton, Bishops, Acadia, Mt. Saint Vincent, St. Anne’s, Mount Allison, Dalhousie, Memorial, NSCAD, Moncton, New Brunswick and others for a rally last Friday afternoon where Brian Brown, President of the CAUT Defence Fund, presented StFXAUT with a cheque for $1 million to support the striking workers. The money is used for providing strike pay, paying for benefits for members, strike logistics and support and whatever costs are incurred by the job action.

The StFXAUT represents not only full time professors, academic librarians and others, but also contract and part time professors, instructors and writing centre staff, 20% of whom make less than $20,000.00 per year.

St. Francis Xavier is the only unionized faculty in Canada without a Professional Expense Reimbursement program to help offset research and publication costs as well as travel expenses related to conferences. It’s clear that StFX Faculty deserve a better contract than what they currently have and are out on the picket line to fight for it.

Here are some of my photos from Friday, February 1st

IMG_3521Rally at Chisolm Park, Antigonish, N.S.

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Dalhousie Faculty Association members

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Windsor Faculty Association President, Brian Brown

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Acadia University Faculty Association member

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The Strike Fairy!

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The “Duff” dog!

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The gathering

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The CAUT Defence Fund $1 million cheque

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Warning: Never strike your employees!

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St. FX Admin: “F”

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Kimberly Benoit from CUASA (Carleton) and me from APUO

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It’s all about respect!

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The Friday night awards gala

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After a long day on the picket lines …

StFX Association of University Teachers take to the picket lines in legal strike action

Good luck and support to our colleagues at St. Francis Xavier who are on strike as of this morning.

Antigonish, January 28, 2013

The StFX Association of University Teachers (AUT) began legal strike action today after eight months of talks with the University Administration yielded no settlement.

“High quality education for students at StFX is our priority,” said Peter McInnis, president of the StFX AUT. “Although we regret the impact of the labour disruption on students, by exercising our democratic right to strike, the Association hopes to avoid the further erosion of the quality of education at StFX in the long-term, and to ensure a fair and equitable settlement for our diverse membership.”

The Association represents over 400 members in eight different employee groups engaged in teaching and research at StFX. Over one-third are vulnerable due to precarious, limited-term contracts with limited or no benefits. Dispelling the argument that its members all make high salaries, the AUT reports that members who fall within this vulnerable group make on average $25,000 per year, receive no health benefits, and are only employed on eight month contracts. “We cannot accept the broad disparities the Administration is trying to impose on us that would compromise the academic mission of this institution by undermining job security for academic staff,” said McInnis.

The AUT’s proposal hoped to rectify this disparity by asking for reasonable salary increases, on par with other regional and national settlements for academic staff, as well as modest improvements to health benefits, pensions, and the provision of professional development funds, a standard benefit for academic staff across the country. The Association also asked for modest contract length extensions for employee groups on less than full year contracts. However, the administration’s offer to date is below recent Atlantic university settlements and well below the cost-of-living.

The Administration has also ignored creative solutions from the union which would cover the cost of the union’s demands.

The AUT will remain on strike until the Administration accepts its invitation to return to the negotiating table. “The Association remains committed to achieving a fair and equitable settlement at the bargaining table,” McInnis said.
Details of the AUT position and bargaining updates are available at http://www.stfxaut.ca.