Progress apparent, UNBC Faculty Association president says

The head of the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association expressed a glimmer of hope Thursday that progress is being made the ongoing labour dispute between the university and its striking faculty.

"We were pleased to find yesterday that our proposals are now landing within the funding envelope defined by the government, and we are confident that we can reach an agreement that will build a foundation for UNBC's future success while not privileging a subset of our members," UNBC FA president Stephen Rader said in a statement.

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However, faculty remain out on the picket lines. The teams met Thursday, the eighth day of the strike, to again exchange proposals, Rader said.

He said members are "firm in their conviction that it is better to take more time now to solve these issues for the long term rather than to find ourselves back in the same situation in 2 1/2 years."

He said 10 per cent of the faculty accepted buy-out packages earlier this year "under the assumption that this act would allow UNBC to be strengthened for those who come after them."

But he said administration has since demanded that professors abandon their lab instructor, librarian, and term colleagues.

"We are looking for a sector-norm agreement that guarantees the rights and working conditions that other faculty enjoy," Rader said.

In a bulletin posted on the UNBC FA's website, chief negotiator Ted Binnema said it appears the sides are converging.

"However, we still need to agree on the structure of the future salary framework, and on the salaries of SLIs and Librarians," he said. "We are optimistic that we can convince the Employer that the salaries of SLIs and Librarians need to be addressed just as the salaries of the professoriate."

SLIs are senior lab instructors.

A number of non-monetary issues are still unresolved, Binnema added.

"We are prepared to stay at the table for as long as it takes to achieve an agreement," he said.

Rader said professors from around the country will be in Prince George on Friday to speak to UNBC FA members at a noon rally at the main entrance to the campus and UNBC students will also be holding a rally in support at Mr. PG at noon on Saturday.

UNBC administration remained silent Thursday in terms of postings and statements on the issue.

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