UWOFA Advocacy During the Western Libraries Re-organization

Vanessa Brown

The re-organization of Western Libraries took effect on May 1. Librarians and archivists with Western Libraries now work in one of the following Units:

  • Content Management, Discovery and Access
  • Archives and Special Collections
  • Research and Scholarly Communication
  • Teaching and Learning
  • User Experience and Student Engagement

The planning for the re-organization has been ongoing for several years. UWOFA has been concerned with protecting the interests of its librarian and archivist members at each stage of the process. Representatives from UWOFA and the administration met several times in the summer of 2017 to ensure that the changes being proposed aligned with, and did not contravene, provisions in the Librarians and Archivists Collective Agreement. The outcome was the creation of the Letter of Understanding - Organizational Renewal Initiative which is now part of the Librarians and Archivists Collective Agreement.

Throughout the negotiation of the Letter of Understanding, UWOFA advocated for flexibility and choice for its members who were being reassigned to the Units. The Letter of Understanding stipulates that members with a probationary or continuing appointment who were being reassigned will have at least one reassignment option made available to them. If they so chose, members could rank the reassignment choices available to them. All members were given the option to take severance.

It was also important to UWOFA that eligible members who wished to retire during the re-organization process be afforded some flexibility. To that end, UWOFA proposed that eligible members choosing to retire would also receive a retirement allowance if retiring before April 30, 2018. That proposal was accepted. Normally, members wishing to retire must give 12 months' written notice. But the new Letter of Understanding stipulates that eligible members wishing to retire before April 30 could do so without notice. After April 30, members need only provide three months' written notice for the duration of this Collective Agreement, which expires on June 30, 2019.

UWOFA's Librarians and Archivists Stewards Committee made vital contributions throughout the re-organization process. Stewards shared their colleagues' feedback, questions and concerns with the UWOFA representatives who were negotiating the Letter of Understanding. This process proved invaluable in negotiating a fair and flexible Letter of Understanding while still respecting the provisions in the Librarians and Archivists Collective Agreement.

Members are encouraged to contact Cindy Cossar-Jones, UWOFA's Professional Officer, at uwofapro [at] uwo [dot] ca with any issues or questions related to the re-organization process.