After negotiations between the AUNBT and UNB administration this Wednesday and Friday, both parties have yet to agree on a strike protocol.
A strike protocol is an agreement between two negotiating parties which lays out what action each side will take in the event of a strike.
“It’s a way to make sure things run smoothly. We did try to sit down with [the university] and work out a strike protocol, and they wanted us to give up some things that we weren’t willing to give up,” said Miriam Jones, president of the AUNBT.
Along with requesting both sides to agree on where the union could picket, the university wanted to have clinical nursing instructors continue teaching during the strike so nursing students wouldn’t fall behind on their clinical hours. The AUNBT refused.
“Originally they gave us a list of 48 names, and that was virtually the nursing faculty and a good 10 per cent of the membership in Fredericton, which would have been a significant weakening of any strike,” Jones said.
In response, UNB administration said they would only do what was legally obliged of them. Their decision was to deny paying faculty on sabbatical leave and not to top up the employment insurance of those on maternity leave.
“People who are on leave are members of this bargaining unit. This bargaining unit has decided to go on strike and when a bargaining unit goes on strike, it impacts all of the people in the bargaining unit,” said Peter McDougall, associate vice-president of human resources at UNB.
“You’re still an employee of the university, your union has decided that you will go on strike and so when you go on strike, you stop being paid.”
But the faculty won’t be without an income during a strike. All members who picket will receive strike pay from the union, which comes out of members’ dues.
While usually the strike pay is not a replacement for most members’ salaries, others will end up with a higher salary than their regular pay.
“Some of our members are going to be making more with strike pay, so that’s kind of ironic,” Jones said.
Part of the strike pay will also be coming from the Canadian Association of University Teachers of which the AUNBT is a member.
Negotiations between both parties are ongoing and the strike protocol remains in the works. On Friday afternoon, the university retracted its decision to refuse permission for the AUNBT to pay for members’ medical coverage.
“We’re delighted. There was a lot of anxiety around that,” Jones said. “There’s a few things still to clarify I think but it’s good news and it’s a very hopeful point for the future of the negotiations.”
Further bargaining will take place over the weekend leading up to the AUNBT’s strike deadline at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning.