November 2, Nipissing university faculty in North Bay went on their first ever strike. The issues are fair compensation, meaningful participation in governance and no erosion of full-time faculty numbers. In short, fair say and fair pay.
Nipissing faculty are the lowest paid in Ontario. Yet, the last wage offer from the employer was a 2.75 per cent increase over three years; under 1 per cent a year will not even keep pace with inflation. It is another example of “austerity by a thousand concessions” that has been a feature of public sector bargaining under Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government.
As the same time as the employer offers concessions to faculty it has been increasing salaries for administrators. In the last three years, administrative salaries have ballooned even when we are supposed to be in the midst of a financial crisis. Nipissing’s top five administrators are paid on average 2 to 4 per cent more than the top five administrator at nearby Laurentian and Lakehead University while Nipissing faculty are paid 9 to 16 per cent less than the faculty at these colleges.
Since the beginning of the strike, solidarity has been high among members and support in from the North Bay community and other unions—including CUPE , OPSEU and ONA and especially the students. Students staged a sit-it at the Nipissing President Mike DeGagne’s office at the beginning of the second week of the strike vowing to remain until a deal is reached with faculty. As one student said, “We're all here in our last year and we all want to finish and graduate, but at the same time we want a fair deal for our professors.”
For information and solidarity: nufastrike.ca