posted on Feb. 28: Education and support of students are high priorities for University in event of a labour disruption


Classes will continue at McMaster and most services provided to students will be available in the event of a strike by the 1,700 members of the McMaster University Staff Association.

A strike vote is being held today.

University President Peter George says that McMaster remains committed to fulfilling its academic mission and honouring its responsibility to students. “Our students are here for an education. This remains the main mission of our institution and we will endeavour to deliver the high-quality programs they both expect and deserve.”

In the event of a labour disruption “the health and safety of the people in our community are of paramount importance,” says University provost and vice-president academic Harvey Weingarten. “Next to this, however, our most significant activity –and our highest priority — is the continued delivery of academic and educational services to students. We will continue to do our best.”

The obligations of faculty to the University in the event of a strike are outlined in the agreement negotiated with the McMaster University Faculty Association on the Rights and Responsibilities of Faculty During Work Stoppages by Other Groups at McMaster University.

Among other things, the agreement states that faculty have the right to not cross a picket line of striking or locked out employees. Faculty who exercise this right are required to make other arrangements for carrying out scheduled duties and are not paid for the day/s they are away from work.

Weingarten says University departmental chairs and directors have a responsibility to ensure that faculty in their units are familiar with the policy and to monitor the performance of scheduled duties, particularly those that impact students.

Chairs also have the special role, he says, of surveying the teaching and research labs and other facilities within their units to determine if they can be used in a manner that is consistent with current health and safety standards. If not, then it will be the chairs responsibility to close the labs or facilities.

Most student services offered through Student Affairs will continue. Hours of operation for some activities, such as personal and academic counselling and career planning, may be modified. The libraries will continue to operate, but hours of operation and services will be limited by the staff resources available.

Associate vice-president student affairs Mary Keyes says she is meeting regularly with several student organizations, including the McMaster Students Union, the McMaster Association of Part-time Students, and the Inter-Residence Council, to ensure a smooth transition in the event of a strike. “Every effort will be made to maintain services to students if there is a strike,” Keyes says. Services to students living in residence would be unaffected.

All undergraduate full-time students have a bus pass so their travel to campus should not be impeded in the event of pickets at campus entrances. Keyes says students might want to allow themselves some extra time to get to and from campus.