Chronology

Fall 1991-Winter 1992

Informal committee formed to seek support for union from Dalhousie TAs and part-timers

July 1992

Dalhousie Educational Workers Organizing Committee (EWOC) set up, sought help from Canadian Union of Educational Workers (CUEW) in organizing at Dalhousie

Fall 1992-Winter 1993

Organizing drive at Dalhousie, ending with 3-day certification vote at the end of March 1993

Spring 1993–Summer 1994

NS Labour Relations Board hearings and deliberations on Dalhousie certification

31 August 1994

Dalhousie vote counted — 83 % for union, which became CUEW Local 12, certified to represent both TAs and part-timers at Dalhousie

November 1994

National vote for merger of CUEW with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) — the local became CUPE Local 3912 officially on 1 Jan 1995

Fall 1994–Winter 1995

Organizing campaigns at Saint Mary’s and Mount Saint Vincent universities — votes in March 1995

Summer 1995

Labour Board hearings on certification at Saint Mary’s and Mount Saint Vincent

September 1995

Votes counted — Saint Mary’s 87% for union, Mount Saint Vincent 100% for union — CUPE 3912 becomes certified bargaining agent for part-timers at each institution

October 1995–September 1997

Negotiations for a first collective agreement at all three universities — Important breakthrough in Spring 1997, with all three finally agreeing to “precedence” clauses for rehiring of part-time faculty. Conciliation sought with all three on issues of wages — issues not resolved, all three bargaining units in legal strike position by Dec 1997

Winter 1998

Strike votes taken at all three universities — In late March 1998 in final conciliation meetings tentative agreements made first with Saint Mary’s, then with Dalhousie and Mount Saint Vincent

April 1998

First union contracts ratified by bargaining unit membership votes at each university

Summer 1998-Summer 2000

First contracts in effect. Labour-management committees in operation, some grievances settled — most friction over operation of precedence system. After some resistance by Dalhousie, the inclusion of the TAs at Dal Tech (the former TUNS) was agreed. The union agreed to allow the Dal Tech part-timers to vote on whether they would be included, and they voted against being represented by the union

Fall 2000-Winter 2001

Negotiations for second collective agreements underway with all three universities — all three failed to reach agreement on issues involving wages and efforts by the universities to weaken the precedence system. Conciliation hearings began early 2001.

March 2001

Conciliation broke down at Saint Mary’s and a strike vote held. Majority voted for strike, although classes about to end and exam period begin. Saint Mary’s offered concessions on wages at 11th hour, and an agreement was reached.

May-June 2001

Conciliation talks broke down at Mount Saint Vincent (on issue of wage parity with the Saint Mary’s settlement), and at Dalhousie (on issues of TA wages and clauses weakening part-time precedence system).

October/November 2001

Strike votes held at Dalhousie and Mount Saint Vincent. In both cases a majority of those voting were for strike action, but an insufficient number of bargaining unit members voted to give the legally required strike mandate.

January 2002

Second collective agreements (September 2000-August 2003) were ratified at both Dalhousie and Mount Saint Vincent

Winter 2002-Winter 2003

Second collective agreement was in effect, and some grievances were processed at each of the three universities.

Summer 2003

Planning for new contract negotiations got under way at all three universities. An organizer was hired to plan and carry out a TA organizing campaign at Dalhousie.

Fall 2003

Negotiations for new collective agreements began later than planned at all three universities. A series of meetings to contact new TAs carried out at Dalhousie.

Winter 2004

A third collective agreement, with substantial salary increases for Part-Timers, was negotiated at Saint Mary’s. This was soon followed by an agreement at Mount Saint Vincent, and at Dalhousie almost all part-time issues were also tentatively agreed in negotiations, but no agreement seemed possible on TA wages.

February-March 2004

With a deadlock in negotiations on TA wages at Dalhousie, a strike vote was taken. A majority of the entire bargaining unit, and 85 per cent of those voting, supported strike action if necessary.

April-May 2004 – Strike at Dalhousie

Conciliation did not begin until 1 April, and the conciliator reported on 8 April, making 23 April the earliest a strike could begin. By this date all classes would be over, and there was argument about striking in the summer. In a vote held 16 April the majority voted to strike as soon as possible. After the failure of a final conciliation meeting, the strike began on 23 April.

Approximately 250 picketers were active throughout the strike. On 27 April Dalhousie made a new offer. This was presented to the members without recommendation, and was voted down in a vote ending on 3 May. On 18 May another offer was made, similar to the offer previously rejected, but eliminating a two-tier system Dalhousie had proposed. At this stage the union bargaining committee recommended acceptance. A heated meeting was held on 19 May, and the vote was begun. The following day a letter was received from National President Paul Moist directing the vote be begun again under the control of CUPE National Representatives. Many thought that this intervention was unnecessary, and over half of those attending a meeting on 25 May walked out. In the balloting which took place on 27 and 28 May, however, a substantial majority voted to ratify the new collective agreement with Dalhousie, and end the strike.