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Mt. A strike stalemate
By Becky Somerville
There may be no end in sight to a faculty strike in New Brunswick as the Mount Allison Faculty Association and Mount Allison University administration remain locked in a two-week-old stalemate.
Members of MAFA walked off the job Jan. 21 after failed efforts to reach a collective agreement with the university's administration. Both parties met Friday for the first time since the strike began in an attempt to find a common ground from which to restart negotiations.
According to MAFA president George De Benedetti, money has been the issue at the forefront of negotiations. He added MAFA is trying to achieve parity with the salary scale of other small Canadian universities a demand which administration is not prepared to meet.
In addition to the discrepancy between MAFA and administration, tension has also been mounting among the student population at Mount Allison.
Sam Millar, president of the Students' Administrative Council at Mount Allison, said the student community is persistently pressuring both sides in an effort to advance the negotiation process.
"We're not taking a side, we're criticizing both sides," Millar said. He added Friday's meeting was the first time student representation was permitted at negotiations.
In order to hasten an agreement between parties, Millar said he is asking administration to make a public commitment to address the salary problem and MAFA is being asked to bring down its salary demands.
"I think those two [requests] will make a big difference," Millar said.
David Stewart, VP-administration for Mount Allison, said MAFA left the meeting before either party could come any closer to an agreement. He added administration is not prepared to put any more money on the table.
"This is an important matter. We have 2,250 students who are being affected by this," Stewart said.
De Benedetti said talks did not go well at the meeting, although MAFA was prepared to bargain. "At the end of the day, discussing monetary issues was pointless because administration doesn't admit there is a salary scale problem."
To express student frustration, SAC has organized a peaceful protest to take place today, involving sit-ins at both MAFA headquarters and the offices of the administration. "I guess the main idea is that we want both sides to understand our sense of paralysis because of the strike," Millar said.