Member update; 5 February 2013: AUT responds to misleading information

MEMBER UPDATE         February 5, 2013

As StFXAUT members head back out on the picket lines today after yesterday’s storm, our full negotiating team is getting ready to resume negotiations with administrators on the outstanding items that divide us.

Unfortunately in advance of the meeting, X administrators are using the media to spread misinformation among union and non-union staff that our requests will cause job losses and layoffs. AUT president Peter McInnis said, “This type of fear-mongering is not helpful and undermines the goodwill built up over recent informal talks. Administrators have made it clear to us in previous face-to-face meetings that any proposed restructuring changes at X are completely separate from current contract negotiations.

“There is no need for job losses, just different decisions about spending priorities. Our proposals will not only cover the cost of our requests, but also save the university money. The reason we are in a difficult financial position is because of the strain put on the budget by administrative bloat, lack of planning and poor management. Threatening staff with job losses while President Riley’s own compensation package has risen by 37% since 2004, and performance bonuses of $40,000 continue to be paid to vice-presidents, is unacceptable.”

According to a 2012 report by the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), Dr. Riley is the highest paid university president among the eight Nova Scotia universities studied.

In addition, McInnis pointed out, “We’re aware the administration had planned job cuts as part of the financial plan it presented to us last year, well before we began the negotiation process. Any job cuts that come will not be because of the strike.”

AUT chief negotiator Brad Long said, “We expect a response from administrators on all outstanding items, not a continuation of their previous pattern of rejecting everything. If the Executive feels the final elements of an agreement are there, we’ll present the whole set of changes to the members and ask for a ratification vote. If key elements of our mandate are still missing, we’ll continue our job action until administrators are motivated to finally give due consideration to our requests.”

The StFXAUT remains committed to achieving a just and equitable collective agreement for all our members. We have the momentum and resources to do so. Every day we receive messages of solidarity that support our call for change at X. You can see them on our webpage by clicking the Support button. Music professor Paul Tynan was interviewed yesterday on CBC Radio’s Mainstreet Cape Breton program about what it’s like to be on the picket line. As Paul and many of you have said, one positive side effect of the strike is that it’s restoring and, in fact, building our morale and resolve. The opportunity for us to come together in a common cause has strengthened us all!

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