Picket captain Ron Ross, warming his hands with a hot cup of coffee, spent the day walking between downtown university buildings wearing a placard reading: "Our Vision? A Fair Wage." He said he's hoping for a quick resolution to the dispute but says the union is ready for a long haul.
The union representing contract academic staff at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford,ON, Canada directed its members to go on strike as of 6:01 a.m. Wedneday March 19.
The university negotiating team has been trying to reach a fair and equitable collective agreement with the union since August 2007. However, negotiations reached an impasse early Wednesday morning over compensation and seniority.
Comparison between the current Laurier contract faculty compensation and that at other universities .
The university offered compensation increases of 3.5 per cent, 3 per cent and 3 per cent over the three years of the agreement.
The union’s seniority expectations were of particular concern — the university’s position ensured the most qualified contract academic staff members would be teaching courses, thereby protecting the quality of the student’s academic experience.
Contract academic staff include course instructors and part-time librarians. Approximately 33 per cent of undergraduate courses at Laurier are taught by contract academic staff. Their numbers vary from term to term, but there are 365 contract academic staff in the current term. They are represented by the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association.