In a vote held on September 7, 2016, members of the Brescia Faculty Association (BFA) authorized its Executive Committee to initiate a strike action if a fair and reasonable settlement is not reached during the collective bargaining process. Members voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike mandate.
“Today’s vote sends a strong message that Brescia faculty are united in their call for a fair and equitable collective agreement,” said Melissa Jean, president of the BFA. “With our members behind us, we’re looking forward to getting back to the bargaining table to address the important issues still on the table.”
A strike mandate vote is not a vote to go on strike. Rather, it sends a message to the employer that BFA members support the negotiating team and the mandate it has developed through member consultation and feedback over the past year. The vote allows the Executive Committee to call for a strike at some point in the future if that action is necessary to secure a fair deal. As always, the BFA is committed to securing an equitable agreement at the bargaining table.
The collective agreement between the BFA and Brescia University College expired on June 30, 2016. Outstanding issues include equal pay for equal work, reasonable workloads, tuition benefits for dependents, course release for BFA Executive Members, and a faculty complement large enough to ensure a quality education for students.
According to the latest Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents data, the average salary of BFA members is the second lowest in the province, ranking 21st out of 22 institutions. This figure is particularly troubling given that Brescia is Canada’s only women’s university and the BFA faculty complement is 72% women, the highest proportion of women academics of any university in Canada. The BFA is seeking equal pay for equal work to faculty at its peer institutions.
All signs point to Brescia’s strong financial health. Over the past five years, Brescia’s former Principal received two payouts in lieu of leave in excess of $350,000 and the institution has awarded double-digit raises to senior administrators.
“Brescia’s mission is to educate women,” said Jean. “So it must set a better example for its students and for society at large by paying its professors a fair and equal salary.”