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Strike ends at Dalhousie University as part-time instructors accept deal

Members of CUPE 3912 will go back to work on Monday

3 min read
Dalhousie University sign located at the entrance of Studley campus.
caption Members of CUPE 3912 at Dalhousie University will go back to work on Nov. 14.
Decklan Z. Rolle

Members of CUPE 3912 have accepted a new collective agreement with Dalhousie University, ending a nearly four-week-long strike.

The union announced Saturday that 77.8 per cent of members voted to ratify the agreement, while 22.2 per cent rejected it. Members include part-time academics, teaching assistants, demonstrators and markers.

Cameron Ells, president of CUPE 3912, feels good about the agreement. He said more than 1,600 members voted between Wednesday and Friday.

“I think it was a great day for democracy,” Ells said Saturday. “Clear majority to a clear question, clear mandate to go forward. And we will.”

CUPE members will return to work on Monday to support students at Dalhousie, which has more than 20,000 students. This means classes, labs, and tutorials will return to their original schedules and structure before the strike.

Sydney J. Keyamo, vice-president academic and external of the Dalhousie Student Union, is relieved the strike is over. The DSU is surveying students to find out how they were affected by the strike.

“Having combed through our data, 35 per cent of students who filled out our survey had all of their classes cancelled/affected by the strike, and that’s a really high number when you think about it, because comparatively, using that same data, we found that less than one per cent of people had zero classes impacted,” she said.

Union seeking higher wages

The strike began on Oct. 19 after contract negotiations failed. The CUPE members demanded higher wages to reflect increasing inflation over the past four years. They also wanted to eliminate duty creep, which is when someone performs a task that isn’t a part of their job description or agreed scope of their job.

CUPE members picketed outside various buildings on the Studley and Sexton campuses.

caption Members of CUPE 3912 picket on the Sexton campus on Nov. 10.
Decklan Z. Rolle

The two sides reached a tentative collective agreement Wednesday. 

This deal gives part-time instructors a 23.3 per cent raise by September 2023, while teaching assistants receive a 23.1 per cent increase. Currently, teaching assistants make $24.41 an hour, but that will increase to $30.05 an hour. Both groups receive two years of back pay and no loss of pay during the strike.

Demonstrators and markers receive a 44.5 per cent increase by September 2023, pay for all hours worked during the strike, and two years of back pay.

In a statement to the Dalhousie community, Deep Saini, president and vice-chancellor of Dalhousie, acknowledged the disruption.

“With the strike now over, time has indeed been lost, but we do have sufficient time to work together to bring this term to a successful conclusion,” he said.

CUPE 3912 is Nova Scotia’s largest university union, representing more than 3,000 academic workers in four bargaining units at Dalhousie, Mount Saint Vincent University and Saint Mary’s University.

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About the author

Decklan Z. Rolle

Decklan Z. Rolle is a reporter for the Signal. He is currently majoring in journalism and gaining a minor in contemporary studies at the University...

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