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Strike Resources

Background

The UWOFA negotiating team, led by Jeff Tennant, has been prepared to bargain with Western’s administration for a new collective agreement since April. Bargaining dates were not set until June, however, and due to the slow progress being made, the team requested that the province appoint a conciliator in late July. Negotiations from August until now have taken place with the conciliator, Paul Pooler, present at a number of sessions. In September a strike vote was held – 91% of votes cast were YES votes, empowering the UWOFA Board to authorize strike action, should it become necessary. On October 27th, the negotiating team asked Paul Pooler to file a “No Board” report with the Ministry of Labour, resulting in UWOFA’s Faculty bargaining unit being in a legal strike position as of 12:01 am on November 13th. We have now set a strike deadline of Monday, November 14th at 11:59pm. Outstanding issues include compensation and benefits, and job security for contract faculty. 

While UWOFA continues to bargain in good faith with the goal of reaching a fair and equitable collective agreement for all faculty, we are also preparing for a strike or lockout. Strike preparedness sends a strong message to the employer about the unity and conviction of members in the bargaining unit. It also sends an unequivocal message that the membership stands behind its negotiating team. 

These guidelines represent policy adopted by the UWOFA Board of Directors; they represent what your Board is expecting of all Bargaining Unit members. The decision to honour or break a strike is the individual’s own. This is something that neither the Association nor the Administration can decide for you.

This FAQ is also a working document, which is subject to changes as necessitated by the duration of a potential strike action. Please check back for updates.

The following FAQ is designed for members of the Faculty bargaining unit

Q: What does it mean that UWOFA has set a strike deadline of Monday November 14, 2022 at 11:59pm?

 

It means that unless our negotiating team reaches a tentative settlement by this date and time, or a settlement seems imminent, unionized faculty at Western will go on strike. Pickets will be set up at vehicle entrances to campus on Tuesday morning November 15 2022.

 

Q: Have negotiations been suspended?

 

No, UWOFA negotiators continue to work hard at the negotiating table to arrive at an acceptable collective agreement. Please stay tuned for an announcement from the UWOFA President on November 14th about whether we will be striking. We remain cautiously optimistic that we can reach an agreement without having to strike.

 

Q: Have UWOFA faculty ever set a strike deadline before?

 

Yes, in 2018 UWOFA set a strike deadline of early November if sufficient progress was not reached in faculty negotiations. UWOFA and the university administration were in conciliation in October, and a tentative agreement was eventually reached early in the morning a few hours after the strike deadline. In 2011, UWOFA’s librarians and archivists were out on strike for approximately 2 weeks before a settlement was reached.

 

Q: What concrete preparations has UWOFA made for a possible strike?

  • UWOFA moved to its strike headquarters on November 9th and we are ready with pickets, transportation, finance and all other aspects of strike preparation. Now that a strike deadline has been set, you will soon receive a message directing you how to sign up for picket duties.
  • Our staff will be at strike headquarters during normal business hours but during a labour disruption some of the normal business of the association may be delayed. Please be patient with any requests that are not a priority during this time.
  • UWOFA will receive $1 million from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Defence Fund and we will use this money and our significant reserves to provide strike pay of $175 a day, five days a week, beginning on the fourth day of a strike, for all unionized faculty who withdraw their services and participate in strike duty. This pay is tax-free and without deductions. 

 

Q: What is UWOFA’s masking policy during a strike?

Masks are required inside Strike HQ and on all shuttles.

 

Q: Who do I contact if I need accommodations for strike duties?

 

Please contact uwofamembership@gmail.com and let us know what kind of accommodation you need. We will contact you as soon as we can. 

 

Q: How do I sign up for strike duties?

You will have received an email on Friday, November 11th with instructions attached. You can also find these instructions in the Strike Resources section of the website.

 

Q: Can I park my car in my normal lot on campus and walk to my picket duties from there? 

We discourage you from driving yourself to campus as most parking lots will only be accessible behind a picket line and we can’t guarantee that the Employer won’t deactivate your parking transponder. Consider alternate modes of transport to get yourself there (walking, biking, public transit, having someone drop you off). UWOFA will also be providing transport hubs from which you can take a shuttle to your picket location. Please check your email for a communication sent on November 11th for more info. You can also find the list of transport hubs in the Strike Resources section of the website.

 

Q: What if I am sick or not available for strike duties due to unforeseen circumstances?

If you are sick please stay home. You are able to make-up for missed shifts (and missed strike pay) later in the week by signing up for an additional shift. If you need on-going accommodations for illness please contact uwofamembership@gmail. They will respond as needed on a case by case basis.

 

Q: Can I sign up for multiple shifts in one day?

 

Yes, as long as you have been given the permission to do so. Please contact uwofamembership@gmail.com if you believe you should have permission but are unable to select multiple shifts in the Volgistics system. Please be prepared to provide an explanation for this request, as this is considered an accommodation.

 

Who should I contact if I am experiencing other difficulties signing up for picket shifts?

Please email uwofaIT@gmail.com.

 

Q: Can the public join the picket lines?

 

Yes, absolutely! The more the merrier! All non UWOFA members must identify themselves and sign in with a picket captain when joining our lines.

 

Q: My APE is due November 15th. Do I still have to submit my APE if we go on strike?

 

No, if we are on strike on the day your APE is due, you do not need to submit it. Keep in mind however that most deadlines will be deferred rather than delayed, so you may want to consider submitting before the strike deadline.

 

Q: Where is the UWOFA Strike Headquarters?

 

It is located at 612 Colborne Street – we have the whole of the ground floor. There is limited parking in the rear of the building and surrounding streets, but it will be prioritised for the shuttles we have rented to take members to the picket line. We encourage members to find alternative modes of transportation to Strike HQ wherever possible or be prepared to walk a bit if onsite or nearby parking is unavailable.

 

Q: What are the hours of operation?

 

Strike HQ will be open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. These hours coincide with the operational needs of transportation, food etc. UWOFA staff will continue with their regular office hours but at HQ.

 

Q: Will I still have access to my Western email, Office 365, Zoom, and library services if we go on strike?

 

Yes.

 

Q: Will my benefits continue during the strike?

 

Yes. UWOFA has confirmed with the employer that your benefits will continue to be paid during a strike.

 

Q: Will my strike pay be deposited into my bank account like my normal pay from Western?

No. Strike pay will be paid by cheque and be available for pick-up at strike headquarters (612 Colborne St) on the first Monday of the following month. Members will be asked to present their Western ONE card when picking up their pay cheque. Please see the Strike Pay Information guide available in the Strike Resources section of the website for more details.

 

Q: I am a part-time faculty member. Will I also be on strike?

 

UWOFA represents all full-time non-clinical faculty members, and all part-time non-clinical faculty members who have had full responsibility at least equivalent to that associated with teaching a half University degree credit course in each of two of the last three fiscal years. If you are currently working as a Member of the faculty bargaining unit represented by UWOFA, your last earnings statement will show union dues are being deducted.

If you are a Member of the faculty bargaining unit, you are eligible to receive the same strike pay as full-time faculty members ($175 per day, five days a week, tax-free, beginning on the fourth day of the strike), provided that you withdraw your work from Western and participate in strike duty.

If you are not a Member of the faculty bargaining unit at this time, you would not be on strike, and therefore should continue to fulfill your contractual obligations and should also continue to receive compensation from the University for your work.

 

 

Q: I meet the definition of a part-time Member but am not currently teaching. This means that I am a Member with ‘Preferred Status’ under the current UWOFA contract. Will I also be on strike?

 

You are eligible to receive the same strike pay as full and part-time faculty Members ($175 per day, five days a week, tax-free, beginning on the fourth day of a strike), provided that you participate in strike duty. If you are not certain of your Preferred Status membership based on past teaching, please contact UWOFA to check. 

 

Q:I am a member of UWOFA but I also work in another unit on campus. Do I need a strike pass?  

 

UWOFA members coming on to campus to fulfill duties in other bargaining units are not considered to be strike breaking. Picket passes therefore will not be required or provided.

 

Q: I am a part-time faculty member who teaches distance courses and I am not in London. How can I participate in the strike?

 

If you are a member of the faculty bargaining unit, you should withdraw your work from Western. Please contact UWOFA at uwofamembership@gmail.com  to find out what kinds of strike duties can be performed by members who are not in the vicinity of London in order to be eligible for strike pay, as above.

 

Q: I teach online. Do I need to remove all of my content from OWL? (This is also applies to those teaching in-person but relying heavily on Owl for delivery of course materials)

 

No. Any previously released content on OWL should remain available to students (please do not unpublish your Owl site). The Employer has agreed that they will not release your OWL content or administer any quizzes or exams without your explicit consent. You should ensure that any upcoming content is not released automatically by OWL (adjust release dates or hide it – you may prefer to adjust your settings week by week to avoid creating more work for yourself later should a strike end quickly) and you should not upload any new content, just as you would not travel to campus to deliver upcoming lectures or assessments in person. 

 

Q: I am a full-time faculty member, but I am currently on leave from the university. Will I be on strike?

 

The strike protocol agreed to with the employer stipulates that the following groups will be considered non-participants in the strike and will continue to receive salary and benefits from the university:

  • Persons on approved sick leave including short-term disability and long-term disability leave as defined by the article Income Security in the 2018-2022 Collective Agreement.
  • Persons approved on pregnancy, parental or adoption leave. 
  • Persons on pre-approved paid leave of absence (including compassionate leave), court leave, education leave, and exchange leave, for the duration of that leave as applicable.
  • Persons on Sabbatical Leave or Modified Alternative Workloads who are unable to participate in the labour disruption.

If you have questions about your status please email uwofamembership@gmail.com  for clarification.

 

Q: If I am away on approved vacation during the strike, would I only receive strike pay and not my normal salary?

 

Unlike parental, academic, or sick leave, you will not be paid your regular salary if you take vacation while on strike. You will receive strike pay, but you will need to pick up picket shifts on other days in order to receive strike pay for the days you are on vacation. 

If you are able to change your plans, you may want to consider removing booked vacation days that coincide with possible labour action.

 

Q: May I continue to do those parts of my job that don’t involve teaching, i.e., go to conferences I have already scheduled, conduct research, write manuscripts, vet applications, and so forth?

 

As a striking worker, you are asked to withdraw your labour from the normal work of your bargaining unit; this includes any of the work described as Academic Responsibilities, as modified and reflected in your unit’s Workload description, and/or individual agreements you may have. If you report it on your APE, then it is work for which you are paid, and it is expected such work should not be performed during a work stoppage. The UWOFA Board has decided that attendance and presentations at conferences will not be considered strike breaking if one can demonstrate that those commitments were made before the strike date. Please email uwofamembership@gmail.com  if you have any questions about your eligibility.

 

Q: I have responsibilities on campus such as lab experiments at a crucial phase, animals and plants that must be cared for (and which cannot be attended to by research team members who are not part of UWOFA), medical appointments for me or my family, or special events that require my attendance. What should I do?

 

Picket passes will be made available to individuals under these circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Contact uwofamembership@gmail.com  with requests and questions. Requests should be made with two business days notice to allow time for processing. Please include “Picket Pass” in the subject line. Make sure to include your name, UWO ID, date and time picket pass is required, and reason for request. If this is an on-going pass, for anything other than childcare drop-off/pick-up, please explain why there is no one else who can fulfill these duties. You will be notified by email if your request is approved and ready for pick-up. Picket passes will be available for pick up at Strike headquarters between 6:30am and 7:30pm. You must show UWO ID to collect your pass. 

 

Q: I have: a manuscript to finish/ a boatload of Tri-Council grants to review/ letters of recommendation to write… What am I supposed to do about all of that?

 

Do what you can before the strike starts in order to minimize any lasting consequence of strike action on others: write those letters of recommendation now; finish reviewing that MS; contact editors/grant administrators and explain what could be going on in the event of a strike. What you choose to do once a strike begins, however, is between you and your conscience.

 

Q: What about internal and external grant deadlines?

 

The employer has agreed to extend deadlines for internal grant applications occurring during the period of a labour disruption to a publicized date beyond the end of any labour disruption. They have also agreed to seek extensions to deadlines for external grant applications from external granting agencies should the deadline fall within a period of a labour disruption.

 

Q: My Dean/ Associate Dean/ Area Group Director/ Department Chair/ School Director has contacted me and asked/demanded that I cross the picket lines to attend a meeting/conduct classes. What should I do?

 

Any such request is or could be seen as a violation of Ontario Labour Law, which holds that the Employer or its designates may not take any action that could be seen to force, threaten, or coerce an employee into abandoning a job action. If these requests are made verbally, ask for them to be made in writing. If you receive a summons from an Area Group Director, Program Director, Dean, or whomever to discuss “the Unit’s policy regarding a job action,” do not attend any such meeting without a colleague with you. If you get a knock on your office door, say you are unable to discuss the matter at this time. You are under no obligation whatsoever to help the Employer (your Dean, Area Director, Program Director, etc.) minimize the effect of the Association’s job action on the work of your unit. Contact the UWOFA Member Services Officer at uwofamso@uwo.ca immediately if you have concerns about this. 

 

Q: How will UWOFA know if I’m doing these things anyway? 

 

It won’t. This is between you and your conscience. Your employer may wish to micromanage you; UWOFA does not want to do so. 

 

Q: What if I get an email from a granting agency/ journal editor/ scholarly association during the strike? Can I even respond? 

 

Of course you can. But we recommend that you advise them that you are on strike, and, as a result, you will not do reviews or assessments during the period of the strike and will likely not be able to meet any deadline that falls within a period of work stoppage. 

 

Q: My TAs and RAs are asking me if they should continue teaching or doing the research duties I assigned them. What should I tell them? 

 

GTAs and postdocs are members of a separate union (Public Service Alliance of Canada, local 610) with a collective agreement that does not have a reciprocity clause – they do not have leave to honour our strike. Neither you nor UWOFA are their employer. Unless their Employer arranges otherwise, your GTAs must continue to meet their contractual obligations to the extent they are able to when you are not there to supervise their work and there are no lectures being given. You should not provide new material for use in tutorials or tests to your GTA in anticipation of use over the period of the strike. They can, for example, continue to grade assignments or tests, but advise them that your approval may be required to submit them officially.

With respect to RAs, they are typically paid from one of your research grants, again it is between you and your conscience whether you will allow this work to continue. That being said, your RA will not be on strike and rightfully would expect to be paid for the period. You may, for example, decide to leave them sufficient instructions to continue their work for a time without your direct supervision, or make arrangements for them to make up the work they are paid for, after the strike.

If you supervise Work Study students, please note that they are paid weekly. If your approval is typically required, you may wish to make arrangements to delegate approvals to your Unit’s payroll officer.

 

Q: Will PhD defenses go ahead?

In-person PhD defenses may be allowed to continue and would not be considered strike breaking where prior travel arrangements have already been made. The student’s supervisor should request a picket pass for all people involved in the PhD examination if it is held in-person. Any strike duties missed because of involvement in a defense would need to be made up. PhD defenses which were always planned to take place virtually for all parties involved, as well as Masters defenses, should be rescheduled until after a strike has ended.

 

Q: I have a student preparing to submit her dissertation in December for a late January exam. What should I do? 

 

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that it meets the university’s fiduciary obligations to the student. This means, in short, that it is the employer’s problem to do things like waive or pro-rate tuition fees in the event that a protracted work stoppage prevents students from completing degrees. In 2018, our last bargaining year, SGPS advised us that if thesis exams were postponed into the next term as a result of a strike, students would not be required to pay tuition for that term. Impacted students should be advised to follow up with SGPS directly (519-661-2102) to see if the same rules apply this time around.

 

Q: I saw Professor Rockefeller cross the picket line this morning. Should I report them to somebody? Write them an angry email? 

 

UWOFA would deeply regret the actions taken by Professor Rockefeller as they are actively undermining what the strike is intended to achieve: a decent and fair settlement which will also benefit them. If you feel comfortable engaging with Professor Rockefeller and telling them about UWOFA’s issues, please feel free. Of course, any such engagement must be done respectfully and civilly. UWOFA does not endorse reprisals of any kind against any member of the bargaining unit (or anyone else) for any reason. Our daily Shift Report for Picket Captains encourages simply noting any such occurrences that you observe, without necessarily engaging with these colleagues.

 

Q: Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

 

If you have additional questions, please contact the UWOFA office: uwofa@uwo.ca or 519-661-3016.c

The following FAQ is designed for members of the Librarian & Archivist bargaining unit

Q: Are negotiations continuing?

 

Yes. Both sides continue to negotiate in an effort to achieve a collective agreement. 

 

Q: If the faculty bargaining unit goes on strike, will librarians and archivists be joining them on the picket lines?

 

Librarians and archivists may choose to participate in picketing so long as they continue

to meet their academic responsibilities. “Solidarity picketing” is done on a member’s own time. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to faculty colleagues and the administration that we support UWOFA’s efforts to sustain a quality education system at Western.

 

Q: So we (librarians and archivists) are not required to picket?

 

No. The UWOFA Librarian & Archivist Collective Agreement is signed, and its terms are in force.

 

Q: If we continue working on campus, aren’t we “crossing the picket lines”?

 

Librarians and archivists must continue to fulfill their academic responsibilities in the

event of a faculty strike. If those responsibilities require your presence on campus, then working on campus does not constitute strike-breaking. We encourage librarians and archivists to honour the picket lines of our colleagues by entering campus at locations other than those being picketed.

 

Q: Do we need a “strike pass” to get on campus?

 

No. The librarians and archivists are not on strike, and if we are required to be on campus to fulfill our academic responsibilities, then no strike pass is necessary.

 

Q: I am a librarian who has scheduled instructional sessions in classes run by faculty colleagues. Those are still a go, right?

 

No. If the faculty members go on strike, all scheduled classes taught by UWOFA members will be cancelled. Any such course taught during a strike is being done by management or non-unionized employees. Members are not required to offer such strikebreaking services under these circumstances.

 

Q: How can I help?

 

UWOFA members are organizing information picketing for the week leading

up to the strike date of November 14th at 11:59pm. These pickets will be at various locations around campus and sometimes include student supporters. Picketers talk to members, staff, and students, and distribute informational flyers and buttons. If you want to help out, contact David Heap: djheap@uwo.ca.   

 

Q: How can I stay informed and get involved?

 

You can follow UWOFA on Twitter (UWOFA1), join our official Facebook group (UWOFA), follow us on Instagram (uwofaco) or you can read bargaining updates in our Bargaining Bulletins or on our website: www.uwofa.ca 

 

Q: Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

 

If you have additional questions, please contact the UWOFA office: uwofa@uwo.ca or 519-661-3016.

For student strike FAQ please head to our students page!