Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) and Queen’s University look to have avoided a strike after coming to an agreement late Friday night.
The two sides had been at the negotiating table for over eight months in an effort at establishing a new collective agreement, and QUFA President Jordan Morelli said if you’d asked him Friday morning, he would have considered it unlikely that a deal would be reached.
Morelli says QUFA’s bargaining team did not feel that the Queen’s bargaining team had been meaningfully working towards a resolution, but that changed last week during conciliation.
“Our hope all along was to reach a negotiated settlement with the university and what was missing was a willing partner at the other side of the table,” Morelli said.
“And it seems like they finally showed up on Friday willing to make compromises and actually reach an agreement.”
Members voted to strike in December after a gap remained on a number of key issues, however both sides were cautiously optimistic that a deal could be reached.
In an update from QUFA, the faculty union says as part of the tentative agreement the bargaining team was able to achieve better base stipends as well as increased time paid in lieu of benefits for adjuncts, and avoid concessions on copyright, teaching day, and requirements to engage in applying for research grants.
Queen’s University released its own brief statement saying the university was pleased to announce a tentative agreement for faculty, librarians, and archivists.
The university and union would not speak further on specifics of the deal with it still to be ratified.
Morelli says as the possibility of a strike loomed large, some members voiced their concerns but remained committed to standing up for the principles the bargaining team fought for.
The avoidance of a strike, however, is welcomed by everyone.
“The possibility of being on strike of being locked out is scary for everybody,” Morelli said.
“It’s very difficult for anybody especially in the current economy to imagine having to go two weeks without pay or even longer if a strike drags on.”
Morelli said a ratification vote date should be announced for members in the next few days, but with reading week coming next week it was unclear whether the vote would wait until staff and students return from the break.