March 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 87  

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NEWS

Bishop’s professors hit the picket line
Strike not expected to last long

By Eric Johanssen
Gazette Staff

It’s a winter wonderland out there, and students at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec have been blessed with some unexpected “snow days.”

Shortly after midnight on Monday, the Association of Professors at Bishop’s University decided to strike after failing to reach an agreement with the university’s administration.

According to Stephen Sheeran, dean of humanities and chair of the labour committee, the main issues surrounding the strike include salaries, pensions and faculty complement (the number of full time faculty employed by the university).

“It’s the second day; [Monday] was civilized and [yesterday] was as well. [The faculty] are still sufficiently agitated and they will likely want to stay out for a few more days,” Sheeran said. “We’re hoping people will show an inclination to negotiate soon.

“In two days of striking, the members have lost the amount of salary they’re fighting for,” he added.

Nelly Khouzam, president of the APBU, said she hoped for a prompt agreement, adding she was surprised both sides were unable to settle before the deadline. “We compromised on several occasions and went to the table three times and they didn’t move,” she said. “It was a provocative meeting on their part.”

Elise Frketich, VP-external of the Bishop’s University Students’ Representative Council, said students have mixed feelings about the issue. “[There are] excited students who are happy for the holiday and appreciative of the extra time to get work done; [then] there are people more concerned with [the possibility] that it could go longer, and thinking about [issues like] summer jobs, leases and [graduate] schools that begin directly after exams,” she explained.

Frketich added that the BUSRC is encouraging students to become educated about both sides of the strike and to consider possible implications for the quality of their education. “We will be pressuring both sides through press releases and letters to get them back to the table,” she said.

Both the APBU and the administration said if the strike is resolved soon, professors can cover materials missed in class. “If the strike is resolved within one or two weeks, there will be [limited] effects on students as classes can be made up,” Khouzam said.

Sheeran said the administration is working on contingencies for various lengths of strike. “[We] may lengthen the semester and shorten the exam period,” he said.

“We’ve been negotiating contracts for 27 years and this is the first time they’ve pushed us to a strike,” Khouzam said, adding she does not foresee the strike lasting beyond two weeks, since both sides are relatively close in their demands.

 

 

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