Bishop’s professors hit the picket line
Strike not expected to last long
By Eric Johanssen
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
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.