Collective bargaining between Memorial University’s faculty union and the university’s administration reached an impasse the week of Nov. 9, after a year of negotiations, said the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA).
“A central issue for us was a fairer deal for our most vulnerable members. Some of them have been teaching at Memorial for 15 or 20 years on short-term contracts. They have no job security and little chance of being made permanent. We don’t think that’s acceptable,” said Robin Whitaker, MUNFA president.
At Memorial, instructors on limited contracts teach about half of all courses, said the union.
“The university clearly depends on their work,” said Whitaker. “Yet, they can never be sure they’ll be rehired after their contract ends.”
MUNFA proposed a seniority-based right of first refusal for qualified contract academics. This provision would give contract faculty a measure of security without costing the university anything. The university administration initially agreed to this proposal, but withdrew it from their final offer to MUNFA, said the union.
MUNFA’s negotiating committee had previously agreed to take a three-year salary freeze, said Whitaker.
The union is part of a wave of faculty associations fighting the casualization of academic work, a trend documented by recent research from the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, according to MUNFA.
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