JANUARY 16, 2019

Saint Mary’s University and the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union reach tentative agreement

 

Good afternoon students,

I am pleased to inform you that Saint Mary’s University and the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union have reached a tentative agreement.

We’re confident the agreement will be ratified by both parties later this month.

We’re happy that the apparent resolution of this issue means students do not need to be concerned that their studies will be disrupted.

If you have any further questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

With your best interests in mind,
Ossama Nasrallah
President, Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association

JANUARY 10, 2019

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An update from your Students’ Association regarding the collective agreement negotiations

Good afternoon students,

I am writing on behalf of your Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association (SMUSA) to update you on the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. As students ourselves, we understand that not only can this process be confusing, but it can also be worrisome. That is why we are committed to informing and educating all students about the collective agreement negotiation process, with regular updates.

Most recent update on collective bargaining: 

  • The conciliator has filed a report to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education on January 7th, indicating that the parties are unable to come to an agreement. This means we are currently in the two weeks ‘cooling off’ period after which labor action could be called. 

What happens now?

  • The 14-day cooling off period began on Tuesday, January 7th 
  • During this cooling off period, no labour action can take place 
  • The two parties can continue to meet and negotiate in order to reach a collective bargaining agreement. SMUSA has been informed that a meeting between the two parties will be held on Tuesday, January 15th. 

What is SMUSA doing?

  • Our priority remains to ensure that students stay in class, and so we believe it is in all of our best interests to stand as a neutral stakeholder in these negotiations. This allows us to be in constant communication with both parties, and to do everything in our power to ensure that the student voice is heard. 
  • We remain optimistic that students will not be negatively impacted by these negotiations since at no time in the history of Saint Mary’s University have students ever lost a semester due to failed collective bargaining. However, we are preparing for all possibilities.
  • We will continue to answer any questions or concerns you may have, and bring them to the attention of both parties.

Although you may hear information and speculation about the likelihood of a strike, continue to go to class and continue with your work. We will send a follow-up email on January 15th or 16th to update you about the outcome of the upcoming meeting. 

If you have any further questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. To stay up-to-date with our take on events related to the negotiations, visit the SMUSA site

I hope you all had a great start to the new year!

Ossama Nasrallah
President, Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association

DECEMBER 21, 2018

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An update from your Students’ Association regarding the collective agreement negotiations

 

Hello students,

I am writing to you on behalf of your Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association (SMUSA) to provide a second update on the progress of the collective agreement negotiations between Saint Mary’s University (SMU) and the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union (SMUFU).

As you may have seen in recent news stories or on social media, SMU and SMUFU have failed to reach an agreement after two days of conciliation.

 

What is conciliation?

  • It is when a neutral 3rd party conciliator, assigned by the provincial government’s Department of Labor and Advanced Education, steps in and acts as a moderator for negotiations, in hopes of reaching an agreement.
  • The conciliator has no authority in decision making, but is highly knowledgeable in effective negotiation procedures.
  • The conciliator first meets with both parties to gain an understanding of all outstanding issues. They then work with each individual party to obtain more detailed information, and to find ways for both parties to find common ground and reach an agreement.

 

How does conciliation end?

  • Conciliation ends when the conciliator files a legal report. This report will indicate either that an agreement has been reached, or that the conciliator has declared that both parties are at an impasse, meaning that an agreement will not be reached.
  • The conciliator will only file an impasse report if they feel as though all avenues within the conciliation process have been exhausted. This type of report explains that the conciliator cannot help the two parties reach an agreement.
  • Reports are filed to the Minister of Labor and Advanced Education.

What happens if both parties cannot reach an agreement during conciliation?

  • Once the conciliator files a report, a two week ‘cooling off’ period is in effect, during which no labour action can occur (including a strike).
  • At the end of the cooling off period, SMUFU can file for labour action.
  • If labour action is called, there is a 48-hour period before a strike or a lockout can begin.

 

What has happened so far, and what is next?

  • Negotiations began in June for the new collective agreement.
  • Since then, several meetings have been held between SMU and SMUFU in order to negotiate the terms of the new agreement.
  • The two parties could not come to an agreement, which led to SMUFU holding a meeting on October 10th to discuss their next steps.
  • A strike vote was conducted between October 10th and 18th, resulting in 80% of SMUFU voting in favour of a strike (meaning that the SMUFU membership gave their bargaining team the ability to strike, if they see fit).
  • SMUFU filed for conciliation with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
  • SMU and SMUFU have since had two meetings with the conciliator.
  • A tentative agreement has not been reached at this time.
  • The conciliator’s report to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education has not yet been filed. However, we have been informally told that the conciliator will likely file a report in early January.
  • The conciliator dictates when the report will be filed, and will let both parties know when this does occur.
  • Collective bargaining meetings can still continue to occur during this entire process.

 

What is SMUSA doing?

  • As students ourselves, we understand that not only can this process be confusing, but it can also be worrisome. That is why we are committed to informing and educating all students about the collective agreement negotiation process, with regular updates.
  • At this time, it is difficult to predict if there will be any labour disruptions. However, we are in constant communication with both parties, and are doing everything in our power to ensure that the student voice is heard.
  • We remain optimistic that students will not be negatively impacted by these negotiations, since at no time in the history of Saint Mary’s University have students ever lost a semester due to failed collective bargaining. However, we are preparing for all possibilities.
  • We will be sending out another email in early January to update you on the process, and will let you know as soon as the conciliator files a report.
  • We will continue to answer any questions or concerns you may have, and bring them to the attention of both parties.

 

 

If you have any further questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Enjoy your break, and rest assured that we have your best interests in mind.

Happy Holidays!

Ossama Nasrallah

President, Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association

 

NOVEMBER 09, 2018

 

A message from your Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association regarding the Faculty Union strike vote 

Hello students,

I am writing on behalf of your Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association (SMUSA) to update you and to address some of your concerns about the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between Saint Mary’s University and the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union (SMUFU). As you may have seen in recent news stories or on social media, SMUFU has recently voted in favor of a strike. 

Here’s some important information you should know:

 

What’s happening?

A Collective Bargaining Agreement is the contract between the University (the employer) and the Faculty Union (the employees). Negotiations began in June 2018 for the 2018-2021 SMUFU Collective Bargaining Agreement. Since then, several meetings have been held between the University and SMUFU in order to negotiate the terms of the new agreement. The two parties could not come to an agreement on certain items which led to SMUFU holding a meeting on October 10th to discuss their next steps. A strike vote was conducted between October 10th and 18th, resulting in 80% of SMUFU voting in favour of a strike. This does not necessarily mean that the faculty will be going on strike.

 

What are we doing?

SMUSA has met with representatives from both the University and SMUFU to discuss student concerns related to potential classroom interruptions if a strike were to occur. While SMUFU has yet to call for a strike as of November 9th, we are continuing to advocate on behalf of students and are strongly encouraging both parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible. SMUSA is on the side of the students, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that the student voice is heard by both parties.

 

What’s next?

SMUFU has filed an application for conciliation with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education to bring in a neutral third-party mediator. The goal of conciliation is to work with both SMUFU and the University to find common ground and reach an agreement. Historically, conciliation has led to successful new agreements between Universities and Faculty Unions in Nova Scotia.

 

SMUSA will be hosting an information session about this process on November 19th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the new student common space on the 5th floor of the O’Donnell Hennessey Student Centre. Visit our website (www.smusa.ca) or check our social media channels (@smusahfx) for future updates.

 

If you have any further questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

 

Have a fun, safe and productive fall break.

 

With your best interests in mind,

Ossama Nasrallah

President – Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association

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