February 2, 2022

Dear Acadia students and their families:

On February 1, 2022, the Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) made the difficult decision to go on strike after Acadia University’s Board of Governors refused to meaningfully negotiate with AUFA in reaching a fair and equitable collective agreement. This decision was not taken lightly, recognizing the added strain a strike could have on both students and faculty during a time of already heightened stress due to the pandemic. 

AUFA is committed to providing students with high-quality education that embodies the “Acadia experience” – including small class sizes and close mentoring relationships with faculty. Despite the Board’s expressed commitment to this experience, they have fallen short of delivering on this promise. Students face too many large classes, long course waitlists, and a shortage of faculty mentors in some departments. Tenure-stream and full-time faculty are increasingly stretched too thin and struggle to balance their commitment to teaching with required research and service obligations. These problems will only intensify in the coming years due to the university’s plan for substantial enrolment growth. Other issues include an overreliance on part-time faculty (which makes it harder for students to develop meaningful, long-lasting relationships with their professors), a lack of diversity within the faculty (which can leave many students without suitable mentors), and inadequate working conditions and benefits (which makes it harder for Acadia to recruit and retain high-quality faculty). 

The Board’s negotiating team claims that they want a collective agreement that is “respectful of faculty and the critically important role they play at Acadia,” but their proposals risk exacerbating the challenges currently faced by students and faculty. In contrast, AUFA is asking the Board to strengthen Acadia’s academic mission, workplace environment, and commitment to the “Acadia experience” through a gradual increase in tenure-stream faculty to meet student enrolment pressures and program needs, improved wages and working conditions for part-time faculty, a commitment to increasing the diversity of faculty through dedicated positions for Indigenous faculty and improvements to the hiring process, and pay and benefits that will allow us to attract and retain talented faculty who play a vital role in educating and mentoring students. The investment AUFA is asking the Board to commit to is fiscally sound and economically sustainable. We are asking the Board to value Acadia’s faculty – as they claim to – by investing in Acadia’s future to make it a better, more sustainable place for students to learn and grow. 

AUFA was ready to begin negotiations at the earliest possible date (May 2021) and has made every attempt to actively engage with the Board’s team in order to avoid a strike. Unfortunately, the Board put little effort into the negotiation process – delaying its start by two months, walking away from the negotiating table prematurely in November, and showing little urgency in negotiating with the conciliator’s help – after filing for conciliation themselves – even in the final days before our strike deadline.  We have created a timeline of the negotiations process for you to review here:  https://www.acadiafaculty.ca/negotiations-timeline/. The Board team’s unwillingness to seriously commit to negotiating a contract with AUFA is the sole reason we are now in this position. This point is worth emphasizing: AUFA is on strike because of the Board team’s unwillingness to engage in productive and respectful negotiations.

By withdrawing our labour during this strike, we aim to demonstrate the valuable role faculty play in delivering the type of personalized and academically rigorous education that Acadia is celebrated for. We hope the Board will soon return to the negotiating table willing to fully participate in the process and reach a tentative agreement that preserves and builds upon Acadia’s strengths. The Board team brought us to this unfortunate point. They need to respect Acadia’s students by returning to the negotiating table with a mandate to support faculty.  

If you would like to learn more about the negotiation process, please visit AUFA’s website:  www.acadiafaculty.ca. You can also follow AUFA on Twitter (@AcadiaFaculty) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/aufaonstrike/) to stay informed. And, if you want to voice your support for a fair and equitable collective agreement and an end to the strike, go to AUFA’s website to send a “Stop the Strike” message or contact:

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Yours in the Acadia Spirit,

Andrew Biro
President, Acadia University Faculty Association

Acadia University is built on the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq Nation. We are all Treaty People.

Acadia University is built on the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq Nation. We are all Treaty People.

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