Few brave Windsor strike
By Karena Walter
Windsor students were back in classes in small numbers yesterday after a shut-down of the university Tuesday.
A five-week strike by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, local 1001, meant the majority of classes were cancelled March 18.
Jimmy Hart, president of CUPE 1001, said the strike began when the administration tried to impose a 27 per cent wage reduction for part-time food service workers. "That was an outrageous bargaining demand," he said. The group has been unionized since 1994 when they entered pay equity legislation which made their wages similar to full-time workers.
There are 267 full and part-time workers in the union, including groundskeepers, maintenance and food services employees.
Negotiations ended March 14 after the union rejected some proposals. "At first we said we didn't want to disrupt classes," Hart said. However, the union is now appealing to faculty and students.
The students' alliance officially decided Monday to remain neutral in the strike after debating the issue for three hours. The faculty association, though, is supporting the strikers.
Students also occupied an administrative office yesterday over tuition increases and the strike situation. "There was a lot of screaming of questions but not a lot of listening for answers," said John Carrington, manager of news services.
"Students are very concerned, whether they support the strike or not," said Bruce Tucker, a member of the faculty association.
Faculty are finding there are not a lot of people in their classes these past few days and some have scheduled off-campus classes, Tucker said. "Parking lots are empty. There are quite strong picket lines."
University of Windsor Students' Alliance president Fanta Williams said students are dealing with the situation on a day-to-day basis. "They're concerned about the rest of the year," she said. Accessibility to campus and exams schedules are the main concerns.
Food services are not available to students in residences so they are given pay-outs every day by the administration to buy food elsewhere.
"The university's major concern is our students are able to complete their semester," Carrington said. "We've been working very hard for a solution."
Food services on campus was very profitable a few years ago, Carrington said. When the part-time employees unionized the administration agreed to raise the rate of pay to full-time status of $13.70 an hour.
However, there are about 1,000 fewer students in residences now and revenues are down, he said. The university has cut back people and management positions in food services.