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Conciliation to begin Thursday in faculty contract negotiations – Vol. 7 No. 11

October 9th, 2018


A provincially appointed conciliator, Greg Long, will join your negotiating team and the employer at the bargaining table beginning this Thursday, October 11. Additional conciliation dates have been scheduled for October 12 and 15.

The role of the conciliator is to confer with the parties and endeavour to reach a collective agreement. The conciliator has no authority to impose a settlement.

The appointment of a conciliator does not signal an unwillingness to negotiate, nor is it a declaration of an impasse. In recent years, conciliation has been a normal part of collective bargaining. It is a service provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour at no cost and it is aimed at facilitating an agreement.

What’s next?

There are three paths to a collective agreement using conciliation services:

  • The two parties could come to an agreement through conciliation.
  • The parties could agree to continue with negotiations without third-party assistance after some conciliation sessions with the possibility of returning to conciliation at a later time.
  • The conciliator could file a “no board” report if he determines that the two sides are unable to reach an agreement.

Seventeen days after the conciliator files a “no board” report with the Ministry, a lockout or strike is legally possible. Your negotiating team continues to work hard at the table to achieve a fair and equitable collective agreement and defend the university’s core mission of quality teaching and research.

What are the issues?

The university’s 2017 financial statements report a $139.9 million surplus for the past fiscal year. Western can easily afford to invest in the university’s core mission of teaching and research. And yet, on the frontlines, some contract faculty have lost their jobs, while many others still lack meaningful job security. In addition, the administration’s salary proposal for all faculty members fails to keep up with the rate of inflation. All of this is happening at a time when huge reserves make these choices unnecessary.

Compensation and benefits

As of 2016, based on the latest available UCASS data, Western sits at 11th place in the province in terms of average full-time salary for its professors. In the current round of negotiations, the administration has offered a 1.25% scale increase for all faculty, part-time and full-time, in the first year and 1% in each of the remaining three years, for an average of 1.1% scale increases over four years. Given recent settlements at other universities (1.5% at Guelph, 1.7% at McMaster, 1.75% at Queen’s, and 2.6% at Waterloo), if the administration’s offer is accepted, Western’s salaries are certain to fall even further behind our comparators’ in the years ahead.

Job security for contract academic staff

The administration has rejected all of UWOFA’s proposals to improve job security for contract academic staff – our colleagues with limited-duties (LD) and limited-term (LT) appointments – including conversions from LD to LT, and from LT to a proposed new continuing teaching appointment (CTA) category.

Click here to read a previous Bargaining Bulletin on the issues.