As the impressive Memorial University workers hold up to the picket line on Day Two, one of their biggest demands may be a mystery to most of the public.
Members of the MUN Faculty Council say they need assurances about “co-government” before signing a contract to return to work. But what does that mean?
“Most people are used to being in a workplace where they have a manager who is their boss and tells them what to do,” said Robin Whitaker, associate professor at MUN. “College works differently.”
The Memorial is governed by two bodies, the Senate and the Board. Faculty members are represented in the Senate, which makes academic decisions, but have no seats on the Board, which makes decisions about property, income, business, or other matters.
According to Peter McInnis, president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Memorial stands apart from other universities in the country.
“It’s a bit of an anomaly in terms of giving faculty a seat at the table for larger strategic decisions,” he said. I would say it’s a strange case.”
So what difference would it make if faculty were involved at the Board level? He said there was no meaningful way for faculty to participate in the selection of a new president for a $450,000 salary.
“There have been instances where Vianne Timmons was simply announced to faculty and students as the new president,” he said.
McInnis said the memorial has seen significant turnover over the past two years and that governance by a collegial body could be a way to retain staff. The more faculty members are involved in decisions that shape the future of the university, the more likely they are to want to be a part of that future.
“But most of the time they are barred from making these kinds of decisions,” McInnis said.
Whitaker, who is also a former president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said, “This is a broad but very important aspect of our work.
Whitaker also mentions decision to drop An ode to Newfoundland From convocation to something more inclusive. This was a decision made at the upper levels of administration, without input from the faculty, and many of them strongly opposed it.
“I’m from here. I went to MUN,” Whitaker said. “We really care that we are the best we can be.We have seen many examples of poor governance at Memorial recently. Come A great example that everyone is familiar with. But people are not very familiar with it. Half of senior management is in temporary positions. So they can’t move. We believe there are better ways to choose and maintain control so you can do the work you want to do. we want to go back to work. “
Memorial University says it has asked the state to amend state laws to allow the association of colleges to participate on the board. That will take time, but Whittaker said there is nothing stopping the university from drawing the line in collective bargaining and asserting the role of faculty union members in governing the panel. , she said she wants multiple seats on the 30-member board.
The university also refuted suggestions that there was no meaningful way for faculty to participate in Timmons’ employment, noting that four faculty members elected by the university senators were on the president’s hiring committee. .
In an email to CBC News, MUN said, “Academic staff members are responsible for recruiting committees across the institution, including colleagues and all vice-chancellors.
Other groups watching the strike closely
The Memorial University Teachers Association of Newfoundland isn’t the only group currently embroiled in labor disputes. Staff at Cape Breton University resigned on Friday, while staff at St Mary’s University in Halifax overwhelmingly voted to strike.
The Lecturers’ Union at Memorial University in Newfoundland is also non-contracting. The agreement between the two expired in August 2020, and negotiations have yet to take place.
Alison Coffin, former head of the state’s NDP and MUN course-by-course instructor, said she was waiting for the administration to take the first step.
“We are trying. We haven’t heard anything back from the government,” Coffin said. “They’re not at the negotiating table, they haven’t set a date for the negotiations. I’m hesitant to go any further, but we’re in a bit of a predicament.”
Since she is not a member of MUNFA, Coffin is forced to cross the picket line every day to work.
“On top of the stress that comes with making sure our students get the best possible education, this is also a bit of a moral dilemma for us.”
Mr Coffin said teachers unions are watching union negotiations closely. Especially the question of collegiality, since most of the same issues apply to their own negotiations.
She said staff need more seats when making important decisions, especially when it comes to finance. According to Coffin, a member of the Tutors Guild has one of the lowest salaries per course in Canada.
“We want to be a world-class institution, but to do that we need to encourage partnerships with exotic locations, not just go to luxury hotels.” Forum with Norwegian government officials at the exclusive Fogo Island Inn“We invest in our faculty, students and infrastructure to make our educational environment world-class. And this is where rubber hits the road.”