The last collective agreement between MUN and the Lecturers' Union ended in 2020. For most of the last year, both sides have been in conciliation. (Mike Simms/CBC)
The Lecturers' Union of Memorial University (LUMUN) is walking away from conciliation with the administration over what it calls repeated delays and refusals to submit proposals over pay.
"If the university continues to refuse to show us the money, then we are in a legal strike position somewhere around the first of March," representative Alison Coffin told CBC News Friday.
She says a potential strike could mean per-course instructors — who, she said, teach around a third of the students at the university — will no longer teach classes in the final month of the semester. Such a move would put final exams in jeopardy.
In a news release issued Friday morning, Coffin, a former provincial NDP leader, said it was now impossible for conciliation to proceed for the union, which represents per-course instructors. Faculty and librarians are represented by the Memorial University Faculty Association.
Coffin said the university has "repeatedly stalled progress" on a fair deal.
"This is a delay tactic. It's designed to frustrate the union," she said in an interview. "We're just frustrated and tired. We've asked quite politely a number of times and we've gotten nothing from them."
The previous LUMUN collective agreement ended Aug. 31, 2020. Before reaching that deal, LUMUN members had voted in favour of a strike.
"Many of us haven't seen a raise since then," Coffin said.
"Other people at Memorial doing the same work, these folks are called teaching-term appointments and their responsibility is to teach — just like us. They are paid about twice as much for delivering exactly the same service. So you can understand why we're frustrated when the university has said they're not going to table a financial package yet."
LUMUN said it asked for conciliation a year ago, and has been negotiating for 10 months.
She said LUMUN sent a financial proposal to the university in November.
"Despite having had months to respond Memorial University has repeatedly refused to submit financial proposals to the union," Coffin said.
Coffin said the lack of response from the university is "unacceptable and deeply unfair."
The per-course salary for instructors ranges between $5,000 and $5,875, the union said. In the news release, LUMUN noted that a recent auditor general's report highlighted the cost of an employee service dinner for employees and guests, at a cost of $6,936.
Coffin said negotiations will resume only after MUN provides the union with a financial proposal.
CBC News has contacted Memorial University for a response.