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Failing grades for both sides

And so it ends. Except it's just begun. With UNBC's application to the Labour Relations Board under Section 55 to suspend strike action and appoint a mediator, a ceasefire is now in place between administration and faculty.

And so it ends.

Except it's just begun.

With UNBC's application to the Labour Relations Board under Section 55 to suspend strike action and appoint a mediator, a ceasefire is now in place between administration and faculty. Section 55, a labour relations clause only available to settle a first collective agreement, requires immediate suspension of a lockout or strike, followed by the appointment of a mediator within five days of receiving the application.

Here's the part that should make students and residents furious at both administration and the faculty association: either side could have applied for mediation under Section 55 weeks ago, before the picket lines went up.

That's right - the last two weeks of no classes was for nothing.

Under Section 55 (1), either side may apply for a mediator after negotiations have failed and a strike vote has been taken and passed.

That strike vote passed on Jan. 25, meaning at any time after that, faculty or administration could have applied under Section 55, including when the faculty association gave strike notice on March 2.

Instead, both sides claimed they had the interest of students at heart but went through the charade of a needless two-week strike anyway, using the students as pawns in hopes the other side would blink.

How does it feel, students, particularly those who passionately supported one side or the other, to learn you were cannon fodder in a silly game of brinkmanship? How does it feel to know that faculty put their demands for higher wages ahead of the education you paid for? How does it feel to know that administration will be pocketing the savings from not paying their unionized staff for the past two weeks and won't be paying you back for lost instructional time?

Worst of all, it's not over.

Once appointed, the mediator has 20 days to review both bargaining positions and meet with faculty and administration to reach a deal. If no deal is done, the mediator must file a report to the associate chair of the Labour Relations Board. That report can set out the terms of a first collective agreement under consideration, the process to get to an agreement or both. The process the mediator can suggest and the associate chair must consider are further mediation, binding arbitration or resume the strike or lockout.

From there, the associate chair "must direct" a method to resolve the dispute and that decision is final.

In other words, further job action is still a possibility. Meanwhile, neither side is likely going to get what they want from mediation or arbitration. From administration's perspective, an imposed deal will cost too much to implement and from the faculty's perspective, an imposed deal won't do enough to rectify their salary concerns. Worst of all, it will do nothing to repair the damaged relationship and the loss of trust and respect between the two sides.

UNBC's future hinges on that bond being repaired. Neither side can succeed without working collaboratively with the other and the university will only suffer from ongoing conflict between the two sides. It will become increasingly difficult to attract both faculty and leaders to a university in the middle of a civil war.

And then there's the students.

Neither faculty nor administrators would have jobs if it wasn't for them but neither side acted like it over the past two weeks. This needless strike will be remembered for the irreparable damage it has done to UNBC. Current students will reward both sides by transferring elsewhere if they can do so and future students, particularly those from this region, will give much more consideration to other schools.

The faculty, the administration, the university, the city and the region all lose as a result.

The many founders of UNBC, the alumni and the longtime financial supporters of the institution should also be furious that a way wasn't found to avoid this strike, including imposing Section 55 much earlier in the process. Together, both sides have tarnished the school's reputation and squandered the millions of dollars individuals and businesses have invested in the university over the past 25 years.

To the faculty and administration bargaining teams, everyone will pay for your failure.

A plague on both your houses.

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