January 15, 2016 - 12:45 PM
KAMLOOPS - University administrators and faculty members begin mediated bargaining today after the Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association issued a strike notice at the start of this week.
In the hours leading up to the start of talks this afternoon, Jan. 15, the faculty association along with other unions in the community gathered at a rally on the university campus.
Association spokesperson Tom Friedman says while the rally was to rouse the support, it was also a way to show others the union has no plan of backing down from its objectives.
“We wanted people to know we’re behind the bargaining objectives. We don’t want people to get a false impression mediation is going to be easy. The university needs to be more responsible to student and educational needs” he says.
Friedman also mentioned the association was concerned when the university posted its position along with the associations stance on its website this week.
“We don’t see that as helpful for the parties. These proposals were posted out of context. It’s often in bargaining you put forward ideas others can consider," he says. "They’ve mischaracterized them. Some numbers were thrown around we believe were not in keeping with our proposals."
The union is demanding university administrators hire more full-time ongoing faculty members rather than professors on contract. It wants the university to be more accountable to students with its decisions on budget.
Friedman mentioned a walk-out could be part of the strike process as a last resort if both parties are unable to reach an agreement. He notes the association hopes to have as little impact on students as possible.
Following the union rally, administrators made themselves available for questions in a media conference but made no official statement.
“With respect to money, we’re far apart. In terms of our October proposal we’re about $23 million apart,” TRU vice president of finance Matt Milovick says, noting the university has been willing to negotiate before the strike notice and set dates to do so.
“Some of this could have been avoided if those dates were honoured,” he says. Milovick says services on campus will remain "business as usual." Classes remain scheduled as normal for students.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016