Unionized faculty and staff at NOSM University have voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike mandate in the midst of continuing negotiations with NOSM U administration, said a news release.
The union is OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union) Local 677 representing NOSM U Faculty and Staff Association (NUFSA).
NOSM University operates two campuses in Northern Ontario: one at Laurentian University in Sudbury and the other at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
The union said it is proposing fair and equitable improvements to workload and working conditions to ensure the continued success of teaching, learning, and research at the university — in line with other universities across the province.
"Unfortunately, the university administration is seeking to remove important rights for NUFSA members in the areas of job security and resources for teaching and research, amongst others," said a NUFSA release.
"The rights the administration is attempting to remove would create working conditions far below standard in medical schools in southern Ontario and, in turn, negatively impact the learning conditions of Northern Ontario medical students," the release continued.
Darrel Manitowabi, president of the NOSM U Faculty and Professional Staff Union, said organization members are not pleased with the situation at NOSM.
“Our members are disappointed that the university administration is attempting to seriously degrade the quality of education at NOSM U by attacking faculty and professional staff who teach our students, develop innovative Northern-centric programming, and support students on their journeys to becoming physicians serving our communities,” said Manitowabi.
He said the overwhelming strike mandate is a clear indication that medical education faculty and professional staff are “willing to take the measures necessary" to protect teaching and learning conditions at NOSM U.
“NUFSA is calling on the administration to meaningfully engage with the union at the bargaining table, to ensure that workload issues, compensation and benefits, and working conditions for faculty and professional staff are addressed," said the release.
OPSEU Local 677 president Nicole Bessette said NOSM workers should be treated the same as any medical school in southern Ontario.
“We are a school of medicine, like our colleagues in the south of the province, and our faculty and staff deserve to be treated equitably. Our students deserve the best education and community members deserve the best doctors trained to meet northern health-care challenges,” said Bessette.
“The NOSM U administration must work with us to create the best medical school in and for the North, which starts with a fair collective agreement,” she added.