Who does the Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) represent?

The professors, instructors, librarians, archivists, and the curator of the Art Gallery at Acadia University. In other words, the people who are responsible for teaching your courses and labs, those who ensure that you have access to books and journals in the library, as well as learning opportunities through the Art Gallery.

What is mediation-arbitration?

Mediation-arbitration is set out in the Nova Scotia Trade Union Act. It is generally used when both parties (faculty union and Board of Governors) are of the view that agreement through negotiations and conciliation is not feasible.

The two parties can jointly agree on a mediator-arbitrator or, if they are unable to agree, the Minister of Labour will appoint one at the request of the two sides. If the parties are unable to reach a mutual agreement, in this case achieving a new collective agreement, with the assistance of the mediator-arbitrator (i.e. mediation), the mediator-arbitrator will determine the grievance by arbitration. Arbitration is similar to a court case, involving an arbitrator (usually a lawyer) who hears evidence and arrives at a decision that both parties are bound to. This is why the process is often referred to as “binding arbitration.” When determining a grievance by arbitration, a mediator-arbitrator may limit the kind of evidence and submissions they will consider and may impose conditions as they consider appropriate. For example, AUFA’s priorities regarding working conditions for part-time members and increasing faculty diversity may not be reflected in the final decision of the mediator-arbitrator. There is no guarantee that the outcome will be satisfactory to either party. Binding arbitration means that members of Acadia’s Faculty Union will not have the right to vote on a tentative agreement and must accept whatever agreement is provided by the mediator-arbitrator in their decision.

Why is AUFA on strike, especially after the university just decided to return to in-person classes?

The faculty were not involved in the decision to return to in-person classes – that decision was made by the administration, and most faculty were not in support of the administration’s decision. The administration made this decision knowing that negotiations were not going well and that faculty could be on strike within days of returning to the classroom.

AUFA has been without a new contract since July 2021. We were ready to begin negotiations in May 2021, but attempts to negotiate a new contract with Acadia’s Board of Governors over the summer were unsuccessful. The Board team declared an “impasse” when AUFA was still willing to negotiate.

The Board’s team remained unwilling to meaningfully negotiate with AUFA, even with the assistance of a provincially-appointed conciliator. AUFA was left with no choice but to take job action.

To understand in greater detail the events that led to the strike and the work that AUFA did to avoid it, please see our Negotiations Timeline.

What challenges are faculty and students facing at Acadia?

Acadia’s Board of Governors expresses a commitment to the “Acadia experience” – including small class size and personalized instruction – but falls short of delivering on this promise:

  • Many large classes
  • Long course waitlists
  • Shortage of faculty mentors to supervise students
  • Full-time faculty stretched too thin and struggling to balance teaching with other work-related responsibilities
  • Over-reliance on part-time faculty, who have insufficient job security and pay
  • Lack of diversity within faculty
  • Inadequate working conditions and benefits, impacting recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty
How is AUFA proposing to address these challenges?

AUFA is calling on the Board to make the following investments:

  • Modest increase in full-time, tenure-stream faculty to meet student enrolment pressures and program needs 
  • Improve wages and working conditions for part-time faculty
  • Increase faculty diversity through dedicated positions and improvements in the hiring process
  • Improve pay and benefits to attract and retain talented faculty
    What are AUFA’s priorities?

    Our proposals all work toward sustaining Acadia’s quality academic reputation by securing good working conditions for our faculty workforce, promoting sustainable equity and diversity initiatives, and retaining faculty control over what and how they teach.

    Many teaching jobs at Acadia are part-time and don’t offer job security, stable employment, or good benefits.  AUFA is committed to getting a better deal for these members.

    What principles are motivating AUFA’s proposals?

    AUFA is committed to negotiating a collective agreement that:

    • strengthens the academic mission of the university
    • secures good working conditions
    • values, prioritizes, and trusts the faculty workforce
    • promotes sustainable equity and diversity initiatives
    • reinforces stability over precarity for our members
    • enables and empowers collegial governance structures that characterize universities
    Are AUFA’s proposals financially sustainable?

    Yes. AUFA is committed to negotiating an agreement that is fiscally sound, economically sustainable, and invests strategically to strengthen Acadia University and make it a better place for students to learn and grow.

    How can I help support AUFA to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement and end the strike?

    Send a “Stop the Strike” message to Acadia University’s administration

    Contact the Administration directly:


    What does AUFA hope to accomplish by striking?

    We want Acadia’s Board of Governors to return to the negotiating table prepared to fully participate in the bargaining process.

    We are committed to achieving a collective agreement that invests in Acadia’s future while safeguarding the essential role of faculty in shaping and sustaining Acadia’s academic excellence. 

    Didn’t Acadia faculty just go on strike a few years ago?

    No. Acadia faculty last went on strike in 2007.

    Should students continue to do their course work while there is a strike?

    Course expectations may change depending on how long a strike or lockout lasts. Your faculty will not expect you to carry on with course work as normal, and you will not be penalized for not doing class work while classes are cancelled. 

    Why are unions important?

    Unions protect the rights of employees and allow them to establish good working conditions for every member of the union. 

    Teacher unions have long noted that “teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.” Academic unions like AUFA ensure that the working conditions at Acadia allow the faculty to provide the kind of quality education Acadia prides itself on. An important part of this is making sure that there are enough professors, instructors, and librarians so that students have access to the personalized education that Acadia promises.

    What is collective bargaining?

    Collective Bargaining is the negotiation of an employment contract or collective agreement between a union of employees and an employer. Collective bargaining is a legal process. In Nova Scotia, the process is regulated by the Trade Union Act.

    Within the Acadia context, this means negotiation between the Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) and the Board of Governors (i.e., those who are responsible for the University’s finances) regarding the terms of employment for AUFA members.

    What is a strike? What is a lockout?

    In a strike, the employees withdraw their labour and picket until a new (tentative) collective agreement has been made with the employer. In a lockout, the employer prevents employees from working (for example, by prohibiting workers from entering the worksite) until a new (tentative) collective agreement has been made with the employees. (Note that strikes and lockouts are not mutually exclusive, often occurring together.)

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

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