Strike FAQ for members

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. 

Q: What does it mean that UWOFA has set a strike deadline of November 9, 2018 at 12:01 a.m.? 

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. 

Q: What is the rush? 

We have been in negotiations since June, with over 25 bargaining sessions completed, and have been through both mediation and conciliation. We believe our actions have been measured; we have only arrived at this point because all other efforts have failed. Moreover, in a strike situation, timing is crucial to ensure that strike action is as effective as possible – and the more effective strike action is, the shorter strikes tend to be. Once confirmation was received that a No-Board Report was filed with the Labour Ministry on October 23, 2018, we were able to calculate that we would be in a legal strike position on November 9, 2018 at 12:01 a.m. UWOFA’s executive has since confirmed this date and time as our strike deadline. 

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 8 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 2010 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 a few hours before 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 on November 9, 2018? 

* UWOFA has moved to its strike headquarters and we are now ready with pickets, transportation, finance and all other aspects of strike preparation. If you have yet to fill out this strike questionnaire, please click here to do so as soon as possible. If you have yet to sign up for picket duty, please go here or visit the “Strike Resources” portal at uwofa.ca for the link to do so. 

* UWOFA will receive $1 million from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Defence Fund, and will use this money and our significant reserves to provide strike pay of $125 a day seven 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. Please check the Strike Resources page for more information about strike pay. 

Q: Where is the UWOFA Strike Headquarters? 

It is located at 611 Wonderland Road North, on the southeast corner of Oxford and Wonderland in the former Rexall building. There is ample parking. 

Q: Will I still have access to my Western email 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: 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 ($125 per day, seven days a week, beginning on the fourth day of a strike), provided that you withdraw your services 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 ($125 per day, seven days a week, beginning on the fourth day of a strike), provided that you withdraw your services and 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 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 services. Please contact UWOFA at uwofamembership [at] gmail [dot] com to find out what kinds of strike duties can be performed by members who are not in the vicinity of London. 

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. 

* sabbaticants, 

* people with modified alternative workloads, 

* persons on approved sick leave, and pregnancy, parental or adoption leave; 

* persons on pre-approved paid leave of absence (including compassionate leave), court leave, education leave, and exchange leave 

If you have questions about your status please email uwofamembership [at] gmail [dot] com for clarification. 

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 [at] gmail [dot] 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, 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 [at] gmail [dot] com with requests and questions. 

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

Do what you can before the strike starts to minimize any lasting consequence of a 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 action. 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 Professional Officer at uwofa [at] uwo [dot] 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 are members of a separate bargaining unit 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 or use over the period of the strike. 

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. 

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. SGPS has recently advised us that if thesis exams are postponed into the next term as a result of a strike, students will not be required to pay tuition for that term. 

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. 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 for any reason.