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UWOFA Bargaining Bulletin Vol. 8, No. 11

October 7th, 2022

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As we reported earlier in the week, we now have a strong strike authorization mandate, with a 91% YES vote. This mandate is an important tool that will help us to get the fair and equitable deal we deserve. Great work to everyone who helped to organize and “get out the vote”, and to all who cast a ballot!

Updates on Negotiations

There have been five bargaining meetings over the last two weeks, with the conciliator at the table on September 28th and October 6th. Some progress is being made. The parties have now reached sign-off on six articles and we have received an initial response to our compensation and benefits proposals. See Appendix A for an updated list of our proposals and the Employer’s responses as of October 6th. The “No” column has grown from 20 to 26.5, while we still await a response to 6 items.

We received the Employer’s monetary proposal yesterday, Oct 6th. Our team is still analyzing it, but our initial impression is that it is insufficient and based on a limited reading of Bill 124. For instance, the Employer has rejected our proposal to increase flex credits for Full-Time Members and to increase Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER) for Part-Time Members. In addition, their proposal makes no indication of an intention to reinvest the savings that the Employer will accumulate under Bill 124. The difference between a 1% scale increase in each of the next three years and the 1.75% that we received in the final year of our last agreement amounts to $4.8 million. We are eagerly waiting to find out whether these savings will be invested to support the academic mission by hiring more faculty, for example, to reduce the workload burden.

Your Negotiating Team remains concerned that the Employer continues to reject many of our proposals for contract faculty and to refuse to redress inequities in treatment across our membership. The Employer seems determined to divide and differentiate us with artificial classifications. For instance:

  • They continue to refuse sabbatical eligibility for many Limited-Term Members;
  • They have rejected our proposal to redress significant pay inequities in the Department of Music Performance;
  • They have not come far enough to ensure job security for contract faculty;
  • They have not responded to our proposal for health benefits for Part-Time Members;

Importantly, the Employer has shown no effort to solve our growing workload burden, even though they acknowledge that it is a significant problem. They refuse to negotiate to increase faculty complement, essentially throwing up their hands in the face of the exhausting overwork our Members are experiencing.

The next bargaining meeting is scheduled for October 14th.

What happens next?

While we will continue to work at the table to achieve the improvements to our Collective Agreement we have all earned (and we know our Employer can afford), we must also continue to plan and prepare for a scenario where our Employer will only acquiesce to our demands with additional pressure. So, with this in mind, we are now asking Members to fill out our Strike Information Questionnaire, which will help us to serve and support the membership in case of a strike or lockout. We need to know how to reach you off campus, what duties you would be volunteering for in order to collect strike pay, and what other specific circumstances may apply in case of a strike or a lockout. We also have some other preparedness steps we suggest you begin thinking about now.

What can you do?

We know that the list of suggestions below looks familiar, but that is because these strategies are effective.

  • Talk to your students about bargaining. Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions, and if a recent Gazette editorial is any indication, students are becoming increasingly aware that Western’s current budget choices do not make the people who deliver their education a priority. Encourage students to follow UWOFA on social media and direct them to the student page of our website which is regularly updated.
  • Tell Western where you think the budget surplus should go (see Every Budget is a Choice 3.0):
  • Get loud on social media and make sure to tag us! Twitter: @westernu @westernuProvost @uwofa1; Facebook: @UWOFA, @Western University; Instagram: @uwofaco, @westernuniversity
  • Send a letter or an email to the President and Provost (cc uwofa):

uwofa@uwo.ca

alan.shepard@uwo.ca

provostvpa@uwo.ca

  • Get in touch with UWOFA’s Communications Officer to make a short video expressing a message of support or highlighting how a particular bargaining goal impacts you personally. This video will then be posted to social media.
  • Sign the Bargaining Support Statement – reach out to your faculty representative or to UWOFA’s Past President Nigmendra Narain for more information.
  • In the coming weeks we will be calling on people to help with leafleting and putting up posters around campus. If you are able to help build support for UWOFA bargaining goals in this way, please contact UWOFA’s Mobilization Chair, David Heap.

Please see attached pdf below for the full Bargaining Bulletin and Appendix A: Core UWOFA Proposals Organized by Mandate.