Skip to content
Back to Media Releases

UWOFA-LA Bargaining Unit in a legal strike position as of October 4

September 6th, 2023


LONDON, September 18, 2023 

“There is nothing that can be done at this university without librarians and archivists. All teaching and research are enabled and sustained by their labour. The oftentimes invisibility of this labour can make it feel like magic. It is not. It is work.” ~ UWOFA President, Rachel Heydon.

The Bargaining Unit representing Librarians and Archivists at the University of Western Ontario (UWOFA-LA) held a strike vote last week, as part of a series of necessary steps in preparing for strike action, as contract negotiations with the University Administration are currently at an impasse. 

Librarians and Archivists voted 100% in favour of allowing the UWOFA Board of Directors to authorise strike action should this become necessary to achieve a fair and equitable collective agreement for Librarian and Archivist Bargaining Unit Members. This result demonstrates a strong mandate from the Members and an overwhelming vote of confidence in the Negotiating Team.  

A “No-Board” report was also filed with the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development on Sunday, September 17, putting the UWOFA-LA Bargaining Unit in a legal strike position as of October 4.

This was neither a necessary nor foregone conclusion. The Parties were engaged in productive and collegial bargaining throughout the process. However, it is the Employer’s refusal to commit to appropriate Human Resource planning or to adequately compensate Librarians and Archivists for their important work, that has brought things to this point.

The ratio of students to Librarians and Archivists at Western is nearly 900:1, almost twice what it was in 2011. Burgeoning student enrolments, combined with a decrease in Bargaining Unit personnel, has resulted in workloads that are often unsustainable or work that simply cannot be addressed by the professionals best equipped to do it.

Librarians and Archivists aren’t just working harder in trying to do more with fewer people, they are also underpaid while doing it. Pay inequities have long plagued this Bargaining Unit as outlined in a recent committee report. These inequities have only been exacerbated by both inflation and Bill 124. 

The problems just outlined have serious implications for Western Libraries’ ability to attract and retain top people. One resignation has occurred since bargaining began and up to six retirements are expected over the life of the next contract – together this represents 16% of the total Librarian and Archivist workforce. The University Administration has refused to make any commitment to hiring more Librarians and Archivists, or even to maintaining the current number of positions. These issues additionally have serious implications for the ability of Western to attract a strong candidate for the Chief Librarian position, for which a search is currently underway. 

The amount of money and the hiring commitment required to get a fair deal for Librarians and Archivists is marginal in the face of Western’s total resources. It is clear that the University can afford to distribute these resources more equitably and UWOFA is calling on Western to reinvest in a more sustainable future for the university’s core mission of teaching, learning and research. 

The UWOFA-LA Negotiating Team remains committed to reaching a fair deal at the bargaining table and is hopeful that the university Administration will make an offer that addresses their concerns and avoids a strike.

An institution that aspires to be a “world class university” has to do more to achieve this goal than just speaking it aloud. Hiring more Librarians and Archivists, and compensating them fairly, is essential to this vision. 

UWOFA-LA represents 44 Full-Time Librarians and Archivists and is part of UWOFA, the union which also represents over 1600 full-time and part-time faculty.

For more information contact: Maram Hijazi, UWOFA Communications Officer,