Dodging the steamroller : the unionization of professors at Saint Mary's university 1963-79

Jensen, Stefan P. T. (Stefan Peter Thomas) (2008) Dodging the steamroller : the unionization of professors at Saint Mary's university 1963-79. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Between 1963 and 1979 Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, underwent a series of profound and radical changes. This thesis examines the relationship between the professors and the university during this era, focusing especially on the participation of the faculty in the governance of the university as well as in negotiating their own terms and conditions of employment. In the 1960s a spirit of collective well-being and consultative participation pervaded the institution. Professors understood that their participation in university governance was both necessary and normal. At the end of the decade, however, the Archdiocese of Halifax and the Society of Jesus accepted that the increasing difficulties in owning and operating a university were outpacing their abilities. When SMU secularized, the administrative structures altered within the Board of Governors sufficiently to lead to a reconfiguration of the administration-faculty relationship that excluded professors from meaningful participation. This triggered a movement toward the certification of the faculty as a trade union. -- After certification, professors quickly mastered many aspects of the collective bargaining process. Negotiating collective agreements did not produce immediate solutions, however, and time was needed to heal some deep wounds. Collective actions by the faculty to pressure the university to reach an agreement varied from year to year, although the union never went on strike. President Carrigan added to the growing tension, and in the fourth year of collective bargaining the union successfully presented an ultimatum that either the President would resign or the faculty would go on strike. The success of this tactic already had roots in Dr. Carrigan's decision months earlier not to seek an extension of his contract. -- This dissertation is a case study of one faculty association that was transformed into a faculty union in the 1970s. The professors of Saint Mary's demonstrated that unionization was a viable option to solve their collective problems with the administration. If unionization did not instantly create a level playing field on campus, collective bargaining at least produced a set of rules governing academic employment which both sides could utilize to normalize relations. -- The uniqueness of this study lies in the rare opportunity to use the records of the faculty union as the basis of the documentary evidence. Indeed, these sources proved far more valuable than the oral interviews conducted as part of the process. Diligent record keeping, the decision by two faculty members to retain and make available all of their their correspondence, and access to all the minutes of meetings at all levels of the university were of inestimable importance. Indeed, one major contribution of this thesis is the overwhelming archival evidence upon which it is based.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9121
Item ID: 9121
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 492-506).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Nova Scotia--Halifax
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Saint Mary's University (Halifax, N.S.)--Faculty; Collective bargaining--College teachers--Nova Scotia--Halifax; College teachers' unions--Organizing--Nova Scotia--Halifax

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