Saturday, January 13, 2007

Librarians at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax Vote New Contract

Professors and librarians at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax have avoided a winter march on the picket line by voting for a new contract.

About 82 per cent of the 250 members of the SMU Faculty Union turned out for the vote over three days this week. They voted 86.6 per cent in favour of the new three-year deal, according to a union news release Friday.

The contract guarantees annual raises equivalent to 3.68 per cent, 3.48 per cent and 3.75 per cent. It also gives a union trust control over members’ benefits and provides for a more flexible retirement age.

SMU’s board of governors must vote on whether to accept the deal, and it was unclear Friday when that will happen. But the biggest hurdle is usually the union’s general acceptance; the board normally approves labour agreements after its negotiating team recommends the settlement.

Union members had voted nearly 88 per cent in favour of a strike. It took the last-minute intervention of a private mediator from Ontario to avoid a work stoppage. The university and the union agreed to share the cost of his services.

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