Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association (TRUFA) issued 72-hour notice Monday that it intends to initiate job action in its dispute with the University’s administration, but added it remains open to resolution.
“The union will have the legal right to strike, under the provisions of the Labour Relations Act, 72 hours after TRU administration and the BC Labour Relations Board receive the notice,” the faculty association said in a press release issued Monday. “The union and the employer have been at the bargaining table for the past 11 months with very little progress on key issues.”
The Faculty Association represents approximately 650 instructors, librarians, counsellors, educational coordinators, and learning specialists on two campuses: Kamloops and Williams Lake.
Following the most recent negotiating session on Thursday, Jan. 7, the TRUFA executive authorized the job action notice.
“Unfortunately, the employer remains unwilling to acknowledge or address the issues that faculty have maintained are critical,” said Tom Friedman, TRUFA president. “Before Christmas, the union submitted a bargaining package that included significant concessions from our original positions, but we have not seen any real movement from the employer.”
“TRU faculty have made it abundantly clear – demonstrated by an 80 per cent strike mandate given to the union in November – that Administration needs to respect the principle of shared governance upon which TRU was founded as a university in 2005,” said Friedman.
This principle means joint responsibility by faculty and administrators for academic decisions, mutual accountability, and transparency, he added.
TRUFA also wants a commitment from the administration to hire full-time faculty to perform full-time, ongoing work.
The union also said it is fighting for institutional accountability in terms of budget decisions to ensure students have the best possible educational experience at TRU.
“Currently, sufficient resources are not going to assist faculty in meeting student needs or in providing much-needed services that foster student success,” said Friedman. “Instead, a significant portion of the TRU budget increasingly goes into administration,” added Friedman. “In fact, administrative costs have risen dramatically since 2005, while expenditures on front-line education have remained static.”
The union remains open to any and all ways of resolving the bargaining impasse, including mediation. Friedman remains hopeful, but notes that the parties are still very far apart.