Charles Crosby, spokesperson for Dal administration, said in an email Feb. 27 he’s pleased the DFA is coming back to the table.
“As we’ve been saying, if we are going to come to an agreement—and we remain confident an agreement is possible—we need to be talking, so any sign that the DFA are ready to talk again is a very good thing,” he said.
At a meeting between the DFA and selected student leaders Feb. 27, DFA president Anthony Stewart said he was still hopeful that the two sides could come to an agreement.
“Nothing is off the table at this point, as far as we’re concerned. We know we’re going to have to pay more into our pensions, and the rest of it is: we want to talk.”
The DFA invited students to the Feb. 27 meeting to answer questions and clear up confusion, said Stewart. One of those questions had to do with the last day of conciliation: what happened, and why have there been no meetings since?
Stewart refutes the idea that the DFA walked away from the table on Feb. 15, which has been the point of view of the administration. He says the DFA has tried everything to make negotiations work and that administration waited too long to present their offer on the last day of conciliation.
“For us to be accused at this point of walking away from the table is galling to the point of being comical,” he said. The DFA decided to wait until the conciliator’s report was filed to schedule more negotiations.
The biggest sticking point right now is the issue of the pension being taken out of the collective agreement.
“We have a couple of pension experts – I am not one of them, I can assure you,” he said. “But if we lose grievance position with respect to our pension plan, we have bigger issues than I could possibly imagine.”
The pension protections have been in the collective agreement since 1978, when the DFA was founded. The administration’s point of view is that the rules of the Pensions and Benefits Act and the provisions in the trust agreement between the administration and the employee groups give the members enough protection without it being in the contract.
But Stewart says otherwise.
“What we’d be agreeing to is that at the most vulnerable time of our members’ lives, if something goes wrong with their pension, they have no provision for grievance,” he said. “The idea of treating people 10, 15 years older than me this way offends me.”