UWOFA and the employer jointly file for conciliation - Vol. 7 No. 6

As you know, UWOFA and the employer jointly filed a request to appoint a conciliation officer with the Ministry of Labour on Friday, August 30 in an attempt to bridge remaining differences at the table in negotiations for a new collective agreement for the faculty bargaining unit.

While some progress has been made since bargaining began in June, several issues remain that a conciliator can help move along. These issues include the employer’s offer of an extremely low scale increase of 1.25% in the first year and 1% in each of the remaining three years. This offer is below the rate of inflation, thus effectively amounting to a pay cut. It is also below the scale increases that our colleagues at Ontario comparator universities (Guelph, McMaster, Queen’s and Waterloo) will receive. The proposal on the table would cause Western faculty to lag even farther behind counterparts at comparator universities.

In addition, the employer has rejected all of UWOFA’s proposals to improve job security for contract academic staff – our colleagues with limited-duties and limited-term appointments – as well as almost all of UWOFA’s proposals to improve benefits, the pension plan, and other retirement provisions.

Your negotiating team is committed to reaching an equitable collective agreement that supports and defends the university’s core mission of offering high quality teaching and research comprehensively, across the university. As UWOFA has repeatedly demonstrated, the university is not suffering financially; in fact, the annual surplus for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2017 was almost $140 million. The administration’s low compensation offer is not necessary during a time of overall financial health.

Conciliation is simply the next step in the collective bargaining process, whereby a third party can help the two sides reach agreement. Your team will make every effort to reach a negotiated settlement via the conciliation process.

What is Conciliation?

The Ontario Ministry of Labour appoints a facilitator who may act as a mediator between the two parties in order to try to reach a settlement. It will likely take a few weeks before the conciliator joins the negotiation process. Your negotiating team believes that the request for conciliation will help focus discussions and support efforts to bring about an equitable settlement.