News Local

Faculty, LU strike new deal

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

The Laurentian University faculty strike began Sept. 28, and last Thursday, on Oct. 5, it was announced that a tentative deal had been reached.

The Laurentian University faculty strike began Sept. 28, and last Thursday, on Oct. 5, it was announced that a tentative deal had been reached.

The strike by Laurentian University faculty has been settled, and a new three-year collective agreement has been approved.

This affects 64 Laurentian students in Barrie and seven faculty members.

“At this point, students are just glad to be going back to school and getting back to their field placements,” said Melanie Van Ameron, president of Laurentian's student union.

The strike began Sept. 28, and last Thursday, on Oct. 5, it was announced that a tentative deal had been reached.

The next day it was ratified by 98% of those Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) members who cast ballots.

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Laurentian’s board of governors unanimously ratified the agreement.

“We believe that both the Laurentian board and the university administration have heard the concerns of faculty,” said Dr. Jim Ketchen, LUFA president. “It hasn’t been easy but both sides should be congratulated for reaching this agreement.”

“This agreement is good news for our employees and the entire Laurentian community,” said interim Laurentian president and vice-chancellor Pierre Zundel. “Now we can all get back to providing a world class education to our students.”

The three-year contract extension will remain in effect until June 30, 2020. Included in the terms of this agreement is that LUFA members will receive a normal annual salary increase, and both sides have agreed to begin discussions about pension and workload equity.

During the strike, in a message to students, LUFA said the key issue in the dispute was faculty workload.

Classes will resume on Oct. 16 for those students with a reading week, but courses in Barrie and online are to resume Wednesday.

Despite a relatively quick resolution to the strike, Van Ameron said students have been affected by the walkout.

“It will be a little tough for students because we've kind of missed two weeks in October, rather than one, so it's pushing back the placement hours that third and fourth years need to complete,” she said, referring to the Oct. 23-27 reading week.

“A lot of students don't have as many classes; there's going to be work to be made up, for sure with the loss of two weeks there. So it does push back some of the courses, and the content of the courses.”

Van Ameron said there was some confusion Tuesday morning, as classes were originally to resume – when the contract was ratified – and job placements were to begin again.

A fourth-year social work student, Van Ameron went to her 8:30 a.m. job placement but then had to leave when she found out the new deal had not been ratified by LU board of governors.

LUFA represents 373 full-time and 304 part-time faculty members at Laurentian University in Sudbury and Barrie, at the Georgian College campus.

Last year, LU's board of directors decided to no longer provide social-work programs in Barrie as of May 2019. Of the LU social work students in Barrie, half are third-year and half are fourth-year, Van Ameron said.

Laurentian has about 6,000 students in total.

With files by The Canadian Press

bbruton@postmedia.com