Faculty and staff at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University (NOSM U) have unanimously voted in favour of a strike mandate.
In a news release on Wednesday, NOSM U Faculty and Staff Association (NUFSA), members of OPSEU Local 677, said they want to ensure that workload issues, such as compensation and benefits and working conditions for their professional staff are addressed.
The union says the university administration is “seeking to remove important rights for NUFSA members in the areas of job security and resources for teaching and research, among others.”
It added the removal of these rights would create working conditions “far below standard in medical schools in southern Ontario.”
Darrel Manitowabi, president of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Faculty and Staff Association, said there are several outstanding issues that need to be addressed.
“The most significant issue is a fair and equitable workplace,” he said.
“We are aiming to be the same as those in the south and to be comparable to other universities.”
The union and school are currently in ongoing negotiation talks.
“We hope to engage in meaningful conversations with the administration and to seek fair and equitable improvements to working conditions to ensure that we offer the best possible medical education to students in northern Ontario,” Manitowabi said.
He said although the two sides remain far apart, he is hopeful a deal can be reached.
The union has threatened to go on strike in the past, but has not gone to the point of making it public.
Despite the unanimous vote for a strike mandate, no strike deadline has been set so far.
But Manitowabi is confident classes will continue in the fall as scheduled, and hopes the union and school can get back to the table and avoid any work interruption.
“We believe that we still have time to do so and we’re optimistic that we can work something out.”
In a written statement to CBC, NOSM University administration said the concerns expressed by the union underscore the importance of a vibrant and inclusive academic environment.
“We remain committed to proceeding in good faith and to finding common ground aimed at arriving at a fair and equitable resolution that benefits all parties.”