Part-time professors at UNB are obliged by contract to continue teaching even if full-time faculty strike unless UNB administration decides otherwise.
While part-time professors are members of the AUNBT, they are not part of the same bargaining unit affected by the current negotiations with the university.
“Essentially we have two bargaining units at the AUNBT, and one is part-time and we call them CAEs or Contract Academic Employees. The other group is the full-time,” said Miriam Jones, president of the AUNBT.
UNB currently has around 465 unique contract academic employees between UNBF and UNBSJ.
The contract academic employees have their own collective agreement with the university which was completed at the end of summer 2013. This means they are not in a legal position to strike.
“They’re part of our union but they’re not in the same bargaining unit. They’re not affected by the strike in the same way. They’ve got a contract. They signed it in September so they’re obliged by their contract to continue working if the full-time unit ends up going out,” Jones said.
“They’d still be obliged to teach the courses that they are contracted to teach. They wouldn’t be on strike. It would just be the full-time people on strike.”
While legally part-time professors are obligated to work during a strike, the university has yet to decide whether they will enforce this.
“Insofar as any decision about whether classes taught by people other than the full-time faculty will be continued, that’s a decision that’s not been made,” said Peter McDougall, associate vice-president of Human Resources at UNB.
McDougall said students will be informed by email when a decision is met. Until then they can expect to attend classes taught by part-time professors in the event of a strike.
Although part-time professors can’t strike, they can still legally picket as long as they fulfil their contractual agreement.
“Certainly solidarity is encouraged. We’d love to have our contract academic colleagues walk the picket line with us if it comes to that. But they should not be withdrawing their labour,” said Jula Hughes, the designated point person for member issues at AUNBT.
To fulfil their contract, part-time professors will be required to cross the picket line to teach.
“I think for some of our colleagues it is going to be an awkward thing to be doing because it is crossing a picket line, but they’re not in a legal strike position and so they need to fulfil their contractual obligations,” Hughes said.