After 11 days on the picket line, members of the Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association have ratified a tentative agreement, ending the first strike by university faculty members in Alberta history.
The agreement opens the door for classes to begin at the university on Wednesday, Jan. 19, the faculty association said in a news release sent to media at 2:30 p.m. today. An official announcement on the opening day is expected soon from the administration, the news release said.
Faculty members overwhelmingly ratified the agreement – with 89 per cent of the membership, 73 of 82 members, voting in favour of ratifying the tentative agreement, the statement said.
CUEFA President Glynis Price described the ratification as “a win for faculty, students and the community because it will enable the university to recruit and retain excellent faculty and lays the foundation for a stronger learning environment.”
“Collective action is what made it possible, and CUEFA is grateful to the students, parents, other associations and allies across Canada who rallied in support of this strike,” she said.
The association’s vision for the future of the century-old institution, which got its start as a Lutheran seminary, is of “a respectful and accountable workplace, a vibrant centre of learning,” said Price.
Salary gains for association members – who included professors, librarians, lab instructors and field placement co-ordinators – “will begin the process of bringing CUE faculty and academic service officers into line with other institutions,” Price said.
The news release did not provide details of pay increases. Ms. Price said this evening that information will be made public after the official signing of the collective agreement by both parties.
The collective agreement also includes improved workloads for faculty members, restores job security and preserves faculty members’ ownership of their intellectual property.
The university administration started by taking a hard-line position, offering no wage increases to faculty members, even though CUE faculty salaries ranked 68th among 70 Canadian universities.
Unlike public institutions that have been hit hard by the Kenney Government’s brutal cuts to post-secondary education, many private post-secondary institutions like CUE saw budget increases and have cash on hand.
Faculty associations at three public universities – Athabasca University, the University of Lethbridge, and Mount Royal University in Calgary – are in bargaining or mediation and could be in a position to strike soon.
While it is often said that no one wins a strike, this is not true, as the outcome of the short labour dispute at CUE illustrates.