By Emily Hiltz
The Dalhousie Faculty Association is voting this week whether to strike, but both faculty and administration are hoping to avoid a work stoppage.
Negotiations between the two parties began in April, and Jasmine Walsh, director of academic staff relations, believes that there has been slow, but fair progress since then.
“The progress has sped up considerably since we have been working with a conciliator,” said Walsh.
Walsh believes the main issue holding up negotiations is the pension dilemma, and Karen Janigan, communications officer for the Dalhousie Faculty Association agrees.
“Both sides have to agree to the agenda,” said Janigan. “The only possible option was to go to conciliation .”
However, the DFA is eager to reach an agreement at the table.
“We know the stress the students are under,” said Janigan.
Jasmine Walsh talks about the effect the possible strike could have on students.
The last Dalhousie strike started on Mar. 4, 2002 when 670 professors, librarians and other staff walked out. Classes were originally meant to end on Apr. 9 but were pushed back until Apr. 25 with the exam schedule condensed into three days. Whether a similar strike will happen this time or not is unclear at this point, but the board is keeping the students first in mind, said Walsh.
“As it stands right now we’re confident a deal can be reached, so we aren’t planning for strike right now,” reassured Walsh. “We think we have a pretty firm sense of what faculty is looking for, so we’re not anticipating a strike.
Dr. Erin Wunker, a professor of English at Dal, is voting to strike. She wants to give the DFA executive strength to go back to the board and say the membership is willing to vote to strike if they need to.
“I voted to strike because I trust the Dalhousie Faculty Association executive,” said Wunker. “It’s extremely important in a bargaining situation to act with collective action.”
Dr. Wunker only has a 12 month contract but she still believes the pension is extremely important. It is something she takes into account when looking for a job.
Negotiations are underway this week with one more day of conciliation scheduled for the 15th.