I’m hearing rumours about a strike. What’s going on? What can I do about it?
No one wants a strike at NSCAD. Please be assured that we at FUNSCAD, the Faculty Union of NSCAD, are working as hard as we can to avoid one. We know talk of a strike causes students a lot of anxiety. We hope the information below will answer some of your questions and help you to figure what’s going on.
What IS going on?
FUNSCAD (Faculty Union of NSCAD) Unit I represents full-time and part-time faculty and librarians. FUNSCAD (the “Union”) negotiates terms of work or collective agreements with the Administration on behalf of the Board of Governors (the “Employer”). Every collective agreement has an expiry date, after which new terms may be negotiated. The current Collective Agreement expired on June 30, 2018, and FUNSCAD and the Administration have been in negotiations since September.
What are the issues brought to the bargaining table? Who decides what they are?
To prepare for this round of negotiations, FUNSCAD’s Unit I bargaining team held meetings with our members, your professors and librarians. Members indicated that the issues that mattered most to them involved workload or working conditions, as well as fairness and equity, particularly for contract staff like RPT (Regular Part Time) faculty.
What has happened at the bargaining table? Where are we today?
After 18 bargaining sessions held between September 7 and December 19, the Union applied to the province for appointment of a neutral third-party conciliator to help the two sides reach an agreement. The conciliator met with both sides three times, on January 28, 30 and February 6, but they were unable to reach an agreement. At the end of the meeting on February 6, FUNSCAD asked the conciliator to report to the provincial Minister of Labour and Advanced Education that the parties had reached an impasse. The conciliator made her report on February 7. Her report begins a 14-day “cooling-off period” during which there can be neither a legal strike nor a legal lockout.
What happens next?
The conciliator has asked the parties to meet with her on February 19. As of February 20, FUNSCAD is in a legal position to strike and the administration is in a legal position to declare a lockout, meaning, they could bar the doors of the school to FUNSCAD Unit I members.
Does this mean there will be a strike or a lockout?
Not necessarily. FUNSCAD members want a fair contract and hope that can be achieved without a labour disruption. We have told the administration that we are willing to keep negotiating, and that they need to make meaningful offers on the important issues on the table.
What happens if there is a strike?
If there is a strike or a lockout, members of FUNSCAD will not be doing any of our usual work. This means that classes taught by members of FUNSCAD Unit I (full time faculty and RPTS) will be cancelled, along with independent studies, committee meetings, supervisions, office hours and other normal teaching and librarian-related activities.
Will I know in advance if there is a strike or lockout?
Yes. The law requires a party declaring a strike or lockout to give 48 hours notice. If FUNSCAD has to set a strike deadline, we will give as much notice as we can.
What are the Union’s key concerns? How do they affect students?
The quality of your education is deeply connected to the working conditions of your professors. Working to protect and enhance our working conditions at NSCAD also protects and enhances your learning conditions and the reputation of NSCAD.
Key outstanding issues include:
NSCAD faculty teach 6 courses a year (typically 3 in the Fall semester and 3 in the Winter); some faculty also carry heavy graduate supervisory loads. The faculty also actively pursue research and practice in their fields; full-time faculty are expected regularly to publish, exhibit, present, curate, edit and/or write grants and pursue residencies. At most universities across the country the maximum teaching load is 3/2 to allow time for research and practice. At research intensive universities the normal teaching load is 2/2. NSCAD is the last university in Nova Scotia with a 3/3 teaching load. We are seeking to balance our teaching and research loads to accord with the norm at all other Nova Scotia universities.
Job Security for Regular Part-time Faculty
Half of our approximately 100 members are part-time faculty. Although many have been teaching at NSCAD for many years, they still never know if they will be teaching from one semester to the next because NSCAD only offers 4-month contracts. We are seeking to provide more job security in the form of longer contracts for part-time faculty without incurring any extra cost to the Employer.
Equity and fairness
We are seeking equity and fairness in three major areas:
1. We are addressing a structural inequity for librarians by guaranteeing their right to take research days so that they may fulfill the research requirements necessary for promotion and salary compensation. These research days are the norm at other universities.
2. Social leaves are job-protected leaves governed by Nova Scotia provincial legislation. They include pregnancy and parental leaves as well as various caregiver leaves for ill or dying family members. More often than not, such leaves are taken by women. We are seeking agreement to ensure that those who take time off to work to care for family members are not disadvantaged in considerations for promotion or raises..
3. NSCAD is committed to hiring new faculty in Indigenous studies. We want to ensure that the tenure and promotion review procedures for faculty engaged in traditional Indigenous methods and practices are transparent and informed by criteria appropriate to such approaches.
Complement is the term that refers to the minimum number of full-time faculty that must be retained at NSCAD. Complement matters because it ensures that positions held by full-time faculty members will be replaced if member(s) retire or leave. Maintaining the complement number is important to ensure there are enough full-time faculty to anchor our programs and do service on the many committees that keep the school running. Complement also ensures there is a secure body of full-time faculty members able to provide continuity to undergraduate students as they progress through NSCAD, supervision of graduate students, and then, after graduation, ongoing mentorship, advice and letters of reference.
In an effort to help NSCAD recover financially from some very unstable years, for the last seven years NSCAD faculty have seen very minimal wage increases; in fact, in 2011, we accepted no raise at all Our salaries are low compared to those of our colleagues at other Nova Scotia universities. While our salaries have flatlined, cost-of-living increases have gone up approximately 2% each year. Our modest salary proposals aim to stop this backsliding, but they still won’t catch us up to annual cost-of-living increases or bring us into line with other universities in the province.
Can NSCAD afford these proposals?
We believe so. The university’s most recent Annual Report shows that the sacrifices we and the rest of the NSCAD community have made over many years have helped restore enrolment numbers and financial viability. What is not fair, respectful or sustainable is to keep denying job security, equity, and fair pay, to continue to increase our workload, and to let our working conditions fall further behind other universities.
I don’t want to see a strike at NSCAD. What can I do to try to prevent one?
The best way to prevent a strike is to let the administration know that it needs to negotiate with FUNSCAD and make serious proposals on our important issues. Write to the Administration and the Board of Governors using the link below:
Help avert a strike at NSCAD
write your own letter to the President, Dianne Taylor-Gearing at the email below
You can also talk to your SUNSCAD reps. and talk to your faculty members.
I want to support FUNSCAD. What can I do?
There may be rallies planned in the near future. If rallies are planned, we will let SUNSCAD know well in advance.
Who can I talk to if I have questions?
FUNSCAD Unit I Vice President