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Capilano University students head back to class as instructors go back to work

CapU professors resume teaching as university, support staff in mediated talks

Students at Capilano University who’ve been out of school for the past month will be able to return to class after faculty, who had been refusing to cross a support staff picket line, decided to return to work.

Classes for the second half of the summer semester at the university are set to resume July 4 on its campuses in North Vancouver and Sechelt.

About 4,300 students at CapU had classes cancelled and no access to online support from professors since striking support staff, including those working in IT, childcare and maintenance, set up picket lines on campus June 6.

Members of the Capilano Faculty Association, which represents teaching staff, refused to cross the picket lines or respond to emails from students.

The news that classes will soon be back in session comes after more than 500 students at Capilano University signed an online petition urging the university and unionized support staff to end a labour dispute, .

Katerina Derbas, who was one of those behind the petition, said she signed up for four summer courses in May and paid about $3,000 for tuition and textbooks, but later dropped two classes when she heard about the strike.

Layne North, another Capilano University student, said while he’s glad the faculty are back on the job, it doesn’t change the fact that “we’ve still missed this semester."

"Students don’t get the education their paid for,” he said.

Not all professors refused to cross the picket line, he added, so the situation wasn't equitable for all students.

According to Capilano University, the number of instructors who continued to teach varied throughout the strike and across multiple faculties.

North said some professors who were off the job are now asking students to hand in assignments covering materials that weren’t taught during the strike.

Previously, students had been given options of a refund with no course credit, a course credit that won’t affect a student’s grade point average, or an option of submitting assignments and having them marked. According to Capilano University, about 100 students have requested refunds.

Derbas and North met with North Vancouver MLA Susie Chant on Friday to discuss possible ways to minimize impacts on students in the event of more strike action.

Meanwhile, the university and MoveUp Local 378, the union representing approximately 350 striking support workers, remained in mediation on Friday.

The two sides have already agreed on a 12-13 per cent wage increase over a three-year term, as mandated by the province for public sector workers. At issue in the labour dispute has been whether to include language about remote work in the union’s contract.

Most recently, the university’s negotiators believed a deal was close on an appeal mechanism for remote work arrangements outside of the contract, according to CapU.

It’s unclear what the remaining issues are between the two sides.

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