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Melissa Jenkins

Queen’s University faces a potential work stoppage as labour negotiations drag on

Queen’s University is facing the prospect that thousands of its employees will be on strike or locked out by the time classes begin in September.The Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA)—which includes over 1,400 professors, librarians, and archivists—has been in talks with the University since their contract expired earlier this year.The primary focus of discussion is the Queen’s Pension Plan, which is currently underfunded.QUFA President Paul Young—who works as a professor in the department of biology—said the University has not offered an acceptable solution to the union, particularly on the issue of pension contributions.“We’ve been in negotiations for several months, and not making a lot of headway at the bargaining table,” he said. “So, the university called in for conciliation … [if] that will work, it remains to be seen.”Young said his members are disillusioned by what they perceive to be the University’s unwillingness to listen to their concerns.“The university is a place where the faculty want a voice in what goes on at all levels. To try and exclude them with a more corporate management, or a more corporate administrative approach, I think is a mistake.”Young said the university has handled the situation poorly by refusing to compromise. “I think it’s very heavy handed and very clumsy,” he said. “What bothers people the most is that the administration is taking a take-it-or-leave-it [stance]. They’ve presented packages … ranging from the pension plan to salaries, and compensation benefits to how to handle contract teaching staff, adjunct faculty and so on. And in particular cases, on these major issues, they just say ‘this is it, no negotiations,’ and that is really quite unacceptable.”At its Special General Meeting on July 13, 72% of QUFA members voted in favour of issuing a strike mandate to union leadership, out of a total 78% of members… Read More