Update on Discussions with Western Administration

With a goal of reducing anxiety about our Members’ working conditions and professional lives during COVID-19, UWOFA drafted several Letters of Understanding (LOU) to modify the Collective Agreements. Despite the added responsibilities our Members have taken on in the past few months, many of you took the time to join our campaign and send an email to the Administration urging it to engage in discussions with UWOFA.

We are happy to report that these efforts have been successful: the Administration is now discussing many of the COVID-19 issues within Joint Committee.  We have already agreed on important concerns including an extension to probationary periods (see details below) and have had productive meetings on April 28th and May 4th. Additionalmeetings are scheduled for May 11th, May 20th and May 25th.

We are all working hard with the information we’ve received from our Members to address your concerns. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and contributing to this important work.

As UWOFA continues to discuss issues with the Employer, the best resource to keep abreast of Employer policies regarding COVID-19 is on the Office of Faculty Relations web page. This site is being updated frequently and will reflect anything that UWOFA and the Employer have agreed upon. Most recently, UWOFA and the Employer have agreed that probationary faculty members, librarians and archivists can, upon request, receive a one-year extension on their probationary appointment. Members must send a written request for this extension to their Dean or the Chief Librarian by December 31, 2020, and it will be approved. We have also agreed that librarians and archivists with scheduled professional leaves are permitted deferral.

Other information includes the process for accessing your office, the Annual Performance Evaluation and Annual Report and Review processes for 2020, information about claiming expenses on your taxes and requesting T2200 forms, and information about sabbatical deferrals. Discussions are on-going about additional issues as they arise. 

One significant issue currently under discussion is that of caregiving accommodations. This global crisis has shown more than ever the importance of supporting and protecting working people. Though many faculty members, librarians and archivists at Western can continue to do their work in an online environment, many are facing real challenges in balancing their work with caregiving responsibilities. UWOFA will continue to emphasize the need for appropriate accommodation solutions. If you need an accommodation, speak with your Dean.

There is great uncertainty about whether campus life at Western can return to normal for the fall semester. The Administration appears to be developing contingency plans, but it has not included UWOFA in any of its decision-making processes. We continue to press for involvement so we can proactively consider and address the needs of faculty members, librarians and archivists. Please continue to send your stories to UWOFA as we continue to meet at Joint Committee to negotiate protections for all Members. We will also continue to update Members through our website as the situation evolves. Stay safe.