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‘We demand you get back to the table’: Students call for action to end U of L faculty strike

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Dozens of students held a sit-in protest outside the University of Lethbridge's administrative offices on Monday in an attempt to get the school and faculty members back to the bargaining table amid an ongoing labour disruption.

The strike has been going on for 17 days, and on Monday, the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) filed an unfair labour practice complaint against the Board of Governors, alleging that the board has refused to bargain seriously during their current round of negotiations.

The complaint alleges that university administration “has engaged in a concerted and ongoing effort to avoid genuine and productive bargaining with the association," and has "continuously engaged in surface bargaining tactics throughout this round of negotiations."

Members of the U of L's Student Solidarity and Action Council say they're tired of waiting for answers.

Approximately 30 students took part in the Monday afternoon sit-in.

“We’re not even asking, we demand you get back to the table and settle this now,” said Karina Almeida from the Student Solidarity Action Council.

“We are tired, we are over it, and this is not what any of us agreed to, and not what any of us paid for. The professors are what makes our school great, we need them back.”

“We’re going to be here until they get back to the table," said Amy Mendenhell from the Student Solidarity Action Council.

"They haven't listened to us. They've ignored us. They are now putting all of us at risk, so I need them – the Board of Governors – to start acting like adults and do the job they get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do, or step down and let somebody else do it."

Student Morgan Bowie says she worries about how the strike impact students who aren't from Lethbridge, who are paying for housing.

“I currently live on campus in one of the residence buildings, but my housing contract, I’m cancelling it after this week, because if classes are staying online there’s no point in me staying down here," said Bowie.

“It was really heartbreaking because I made some friends down here, and I’ve made a whole life down here, only to find out I have to move home.”

Third-year student Meghan Rennie joined Monday’s student sit-in because she feels the strike is taking a toll on the mental health of students, hers included.

"I’d compare it to the same amount of uncertainty we felt at the beginning of the pandemic," Rennie said. "Having to contend with that global pandemic, I’ve been actively thinking about how that has occurred, and been using that to try to support my mental health."

The University of Lethbridge says students have every right to express their views about the ongoing strike, and that they are doing everything they can to engage in serious negotiations with the ULFA. 

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