Kristen Curtis, Student Life Editor
As February draws to a close, both the university and faculty members remain tight lipped about the on-going negotiations. No one knows how well the process is going except the negotiators themselves who can only say little until a deal is reached or the deadline passes.
“At this point, the university and the faculty association are still willing to continue bargaining”, said Kevin Crowley, WLU’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs.
The two sides are scheduled to meet with a provincially appointed mediator today and tomorrow to try to reach a settlement.
If no compromise is met between the two sides, the faculty is legally allowed to strike, or the university may legally lock them out, at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
If a strike were to take place, it would be the third time that Laurier students would be forced to cross the picket line in just ten years.
The most recent strike took place in 2008, when 365 contract academic staff walked off the job for nearly three weeks.
The other took place in 2002, when WLUSA went on strike for a total of 50 days.
When the 2008 failed Laurier negotiations and strike are brought up, Crowley has hope this one is different.
“Every set of negotiations is different,” Crowley said. “However, it may be useful to look at the 2011 contract academic staff negotiations, rather than the 2008 strike. In 2011, as in the current negotiations with full-time faculty, the talks went to the mediation phase, and a settlement was reached with the help of the provincially appointed mediator. So the 2011 experience bodes well for the current set of negotiations.”
What the impact on students will be should faculty members decide to strike remains uncertain. In the case of the 2008 strike, the semester was extended for two days, but students were not refunded for missed teaching time.
Of the approximately 520 WLUFA members involved in this bargaining process, 64 are situated on the Brantford campus.
The full-time academic staff have been without a contract since July 1.
Judy Bates, the president of WLUFA could not be reached for comment.
–With files from Kyle Brown and Justin Smirlies.