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University contracts private security during faculty strike

The University of New Brunswick has contracted a professional security company to be stationed at several entrances around both Fredericton and Saint John campuses where AUNBT strikers are picketing.

A security team was spotted Tuesday morning at the Kings College road entrance to the Fredericton campus. Two officers were parked in a white minivan. One was wearing a florescent yellow jacket with a security crest on the chest, and a patch on his sleeve with the initials “AFIMAC.”

UNB associate vice-president of human resources Peter McDougall confirmed AFIMAC’s presence on campus Tuesday.

“We want everybody to feel like we’re taking their health and safety seriously. So that’s why they’re there,” McDougall said. “One of the things you see in the news is that there’s always a concern of somebody coming up and doing or saying something inappropriate, or people acting in an unsafe manner. They’re not there for anything other than to make sure everything happens in a peaceful way in accordance with everybody’s legal rights.”

But AUNBT president Miriam Jones feels it’s overkill.

“It’s another example of the administration using student’s money to pay high businesses,” Jones said. “They’re very happy to pay anyone but us, frankly.”

McDougall wouldn’t disclose how much UNB is paying AFIMAC, but said a contract has been signed between both parties.

“The cost will depend upon how long their services are needed and how long the dispute goes on,” McDougall said. “It can’t be known as of today what this service will be costing us.”

The university does have financial information regarding the agreement, but refused to disclose any specific details of the arrangement with AFIMAC.

“There is a contract in place. We wouldn’t enter into an agreement just at ‘Come in and we’ll sort out the price later.’ That would not be how the university would do business.” McDougall said. “What I’m saying is we would not be in a position to release the details of that contract to you.”

A Right to Information request has been placed with UNB’s Office of the Secretariat for a copy of the contract.

McDougall also said he doesn’t anticipate there will be any issues which would need de-escalating.

“There’s no reason for us to think that and there’s been no evidence of that to date,” McDougall said. “These are very professional individuals and people can legitimately disagree. We’re used to debate and different opinions.”

Jones didn’t want to speculate on whether or not the picketers would up the ante with a peaceful demonstration like stopping traffic, but she said other academics from across Canada will be coming Friday to lend support. The Canadian Association of University Teachers will also be on hand to present the strikers a support cheque for $1 million.

Strikers have been collecting $100 per day for picketing, and have been rotating three-hour shifts.

“If they do their full strike duty, they’re taking home $700 per week,” Jones said.

On its website, AFIMAC states “For more than 30 years, AFIMAC has offered elite strike security, executive and close protection, cargo security, investigation and workplace violence services to image conscious companies across the globe.”

The Brunswickan contacted AFIMAC’s Canadian head office in Milton, Ont., but no messages were returned. Upon the third attempt, at 4:45 p.m. eastern time, the secretary said they were having an off-site meeting today and was not able to transfer the call. Tweets were also sent to active AFIMAC twitter accounts including CEO Peter Martin and vice-president Stephen Anderson.

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