Saturday, November 26, 2011
Brandon University strike ends with agreement
Late Friday evening the Brandon University Administration finally reached an agreement with the faculty union. The strike was the longest university strike in Manitoba history. It began way back on Oct. 12, interrupting the school year a little over a month after classes started. There have been longer university strikes. A strike at Laval University in 1976 in Quebec lasted four months! More recently in 1997 York University faculty went on strike for 55 days. However long strikes or any strikes are the exception rather than the rule.
Earlier a mediator had suggested binding arbitration to solve the dispute. Although the administration agreed the faculty wanted to continue negotiation. Later Labour minister Jennifer Howard had ordered the faculty to vote on the last administration offer. The vote was to take place next week.
The tentative deal will allow faculty to return to work as early as next Monday evening a much faster resolution that having to vote on the latest administration offer which the union recommended be rejected. Now the faculty are voting on an agreement that the union supports. It is quite likely to pass.
The university president Deborah Poff says that the university will make sure that students will be able to complete the school year. Possibilities involve extending the next term and pushing back December exams into the new year. No doubt everyone is relieved that the strike will be over. Solving the crisis through an agreement shows that collective bargaining can work although in this case the two sides took much too long to finally settle.