Schdeduled conciliation talks between Dalhousie's Board and Local 77 of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) ended Monday without an agreement.
In a news release, the NSGEU indicated that Local 77—which includes approximately 840 clerical, secretarial and technical workers at Dalhousie—would begin organizing a strike vote in the coming weeks.
Back in July, two days of conciliation resulted in a one-year “rollover” agreement, approved by its membership in early August. The two sides returned to the conciliation table yesterday to work through the remaining issues.
On Tuesday, Dalhousie updated its negotiations website with the details of Monday’s talks. The post explains that while several outstanding proposals were resolved or withdrawn, two remain on the table. The first is a union proposal concerning job postings. The second is the proposal for pension governance – the same jointly-sponsored pension plan (JSPP) model [PDF] that was presented to the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) last week.
“We weren’t able to reach a tentative agreement we could recommend to the membership and we have to move to the next step,” said Joan Jessome, NSGEU president, in the release. “The sides are too far apart on the important issues of wages and pensions.”
Dal team confident agreement will be reached
The news comes less than a week after scheduled conciliation talks wrapped up with the DFA, also without an agreement. Neither union is in a legal strike position yet, however – in both cases, there is a 14-day “cooling off” period that starts once the conciliator files his report. Both unions have asked for the respective conciliators to do so, but as of yet neither report has been officially filed.
Read also: Dalhousie requests more talks with the DFA (Feb. 16)
Katherine Sheehan, assistant vice-president of Human Resources at Dal, remains confident that the university’s bargaining team will be able to reach tentative agreements with both unions once all parties return to the table. In the case of the DFA, Dalhousie has already asked for additional negotiation dates and hopes that these can be scheduled for next week.
She adds that it’s not surprising that the two separate negotiations—DFA and NSGEU Local 77—are reaching the same juncture at the same time, since they’re both centered around the same issue.
“We always knew that these talks would revolve around the pension plan, and we’ve now reached the point where our proposed governance model has been tabled,” she says, pointing to the jointly sponsored pension plan proposal, the key principles of which are publicly available on the negotiations website. [PDF]
She’s eager to return to the bargaining table so the important discussions around pensions can continue.
“When universities across Canada are struggling to support their pension plans, we owe it to our plan members across all our employee groups to agree on a governance model that helps make Dal’s defined benefits plan competitive and sustainable for the future.”
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