Memorial University’s negotiating team has requested that the provincial government conciliation officer reconvene negotiations with MUNFA on Dec. 18 in an attempt to reach a tentative collective agreement with the university’s faculty.
“Recent public statements by MUNFA’s president indicate that the outstanding issue preventing us from reaching a tentative agreement is the right of first refusal for its members holding term appointments,” said Dr. Noreen Golfman, provost and vice-president (academic).
“If this is indeed the case, we are cautiously optimistic a resolution is possible and have reached out to the conciliator to help us get back to the table. We know the uncertainty around a potential strike has a negative impact on students and that is why we have taken this step to move the process forward.”
This request is not the first attempt by the university’s negotiators to try to resume talks toward reaching a tentative agreement since MUNFA broke off talks on Nov. 5. At the request of the university, on Nov. 27 university negotiators met with representatives of the MUNFA negotiating team to clarify that the issue separating the parties from a tentative agreement is the right of first refusal and to discuss a process to move forward. Contrary to the public comments made since by their president, the representatives of the MUNFA negotiating team refused to acknowledge it was the remaining issue.
“The Nov. 27 exchange with representatives of the MUNFA negotiating team is clearly inconsistent with the MUNFA president’s public comments earlier this week,” noted Dr. Golfman. “The university remains open to reaching a tentative agreement, and we call on MUNFA to be clear with us about the outstanding issues.”
MUNFA had also proposed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) requesting that there would be no strike or lockout before Jan. 3. The university advised the union that it has no intention of taking action that would disrupt students’ access to completing their exams or completing the winter semester, negating the need for such an MOU. In addition, the university indicated it would be contacting the conciliation officer to seek additional dates to resume collective bargaining.
MUNFA (Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association) is the labour union representing approximately 850 full-time faculty, librarians, counsellors and co-operative and field education coordinators employed by the university at its various locations.
The last collective agreement between MUNFA and Memorial University expired on Aug. 31, 2017. First negotiation proposals were exchanged in December 2017, and a number of negotiating sessions were held during winter and spring 2018. MUNFA applied to the province for conciliation on June 14, 2018 and with the aid of a government-appointed conciliator, talks continued into fall 2018.
The last time the parties met during conciliation on Nov. 5, 2018, MUNFA advised that it rejected the university’s final package of proposals. The university negotiating team then invited MUNFA to identify new parameters as a basis for further negotiations; however, they refused.