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FULL STORY: Profs and UNB reach tentative agreement to end strike

The labour dispute between professors’ union AUNBT and UNB may be over.

Both parties announced on Thursday that the two sides reached a tentative agreement which would end the strike/lockout.

AUNBT president Miriam Jones told the Brunswickan that the union is happy to reach a deal.

“[We’re] happy and relieved,” Jones said. “I’m kind of surprised because really, as of this morning it seemed that the two sides were pretty far apart, but something shook loose during the day.”

Jones added that both parties agreed to jointly announce details on Friday, so she couldn’t release any details about the agreement. But she did say they are happy with the deal.

“We’re feeling very pleased with the agreement. We held firm. We’ve got a lot to be proud of and a lot to be pleased about,” said Jones.

She said because it’s a tentative agreement, the union membership still needs to vote on it. This involves having a membership meeting next week, which is expected to take place Tuesday. She said voting would take place Wednesday and Thursday, but said they hope to be back in classes by the middle of next week.

“You can end the strike and the lockout pending a vote,” Jones said. “But if the vote goes south, we’re back out so that would be weird. I would be very surprised if that happened.”

On Monday, New Brunswick Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Jody Carr ordered both parties back to the table with an appointed negotiator. Thursday was their second day of meeting. Jones said having the mediator helped with making a deal.

“You can’t deny that we got an agreement during mediations,” she said. “[The bargaining team has] done wonderful things for the membership and we’re very pleased with what they’ve done and we’re very pleased with the agreement.”

The university said they would not comment further than what was already stated in the press release.

UNB Student Union president Ben Whitney said he’s happy to see an agreement reached so soon.

“Students have been out of classes for almost three weeks now, and every indication was pointing towards the fact that we were getting close to the point of no return,” he said.

“I’m hopeful that if the bargaining teams were happy with the agreement their respective members will also vote in favour of the tentative agreement.

Whitney said their next step is to find a way to salvage the semester. He said the union will be submitting their back to work protocol recommendations to both parties. Their recommendations included fee payment and withdrawal and registration from classes. They will also be looking into possible tuition/fee refunds.

“Priority one [was] getting this dispute settled and getting students back in class,” Whitney said. “Now we need to begin the work of salvaging relationships and working collaboratively in the best interests of students and the University to salvage our semester.”

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