Canadian university locks out faculty
WSWS.org - 7 January 2008
St. Thomas University, a liberal arts college in Fredericton, New Brunswick, has locked out its 160 unionized full- and part-time faculty and announced its intention to make use of the province’s reactionary labor laws to force a vote on its “final” contract offer.
The vote, which is to be organized by the New Brunswick Labour Relations Board, will likely be held Friday, January 11.
Never before has a Canadian university imposed such a lockout. Bishop’s University, of Lennoxville, Quebec, did briefly lock out its faculty last summer, but only after the university’s administrative staff, also members of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), had been on strike for several weeks.
St. Thomas’ Board of Governors and management have assumed a provocative, antiunion stance throughout the eleven month-long negotiations. First they tabled a raft of proposals aimed at strengthening management control over hiring and promotion and gravely compromising academic freedom. Then the Board insisted that its modified contract proposal be accepted as the framework for any new agreement and, when this ultimatum was rejected, locked out the faculty, who had yet even to authorize their union to call a strike.
The reality is that New Brunswick’s economy is dominated by a handful of giant corporations and conglomerates that have no compunction about closing factories and mills that are the mainstay of small communities. For decades these corporations have pressed pro-business Liberal and Conservative governments to lower taxes and starve the province’s education system and other public services of adequate funding
Virtually all the province’s English-language newspapers are owned by the Irving conglomerate, which has diverse holdings, including in oil refining and marketing and in the forest industry. The net worth of the Irvings was recently estimated at more than $10 billion, making them one of the world’s richest families.
The Irving-owned press churns out right-wing, pro-big business propaganda on a daily basis. A comment in the St. John Telegraph Journal last Wednesday advocated that New Brunswick aspire to become “Alabama north.” The comment claimed that the notorious anti-worker, southern US state has become a magnet for investment.Article Continues