Western's profs vote on unionization
By Brendan Howe
Students at Western will be taught by unionized professors in the near future if members of the faculty vote to certify today.
The vote stems from months of discussion between the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association and administration members. It is scheduled to take place at the UWOFA's general meeting at 2 p.m. today.
UWOFA President Andrew Osler said he expects members of the association to vote for certification. "Certification would give us certain advantages when it comes to relations with the university," he said.
The association has been working with administration members to put together a comprehensive agreement since January, Osler said. He added several UWOFA members spent most of the summer working on a 66-page proposal but the association believes there was very little movement by the administration.
Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, said he does not agree with the way the faculty association is going about negotiating. He said certification is not the answer because it is not necessary.
"One would have to ask what the particular gains and losses are. In this case, the losses far outweigh the gains," Mercer said.
The two-year contract between the faculty members and the university ends in June 1998, he said, adding UWOFA and the administration have a different opinion when it comes to the time frame of negotiations.
"We believe it will take six months. The faculty association believes we should get something much more quickly," Mercer said.
Osler explained there were two main issues which the association wants resolved. It wants dues payment to be mandatory for all faculty in order to give more financial strength and planning capability to the association.
Deduction of fees is legally out of the administration's hands, Mercer said. Both faculty and the university support mandatory dues check-off but there is a legal impediment to it.
The other concern UWOFA is looking to resolve is the issue of arbitration, Osler said. Currently, the Board of Governors has ultimate power when it comes to an agreement. They can reject an agreement even if it is already agreed to by the association and administration members. He said they are looking for agreement conflicts to go to binding arbitration.
"Many refer to this as a state of binding suffocation. We want a circumstance where negotiations could occur," Osler said.
Mercer said the university believes in arbitration as a desirable method of resolving disputes but the disagreement is on the extent of the arbitration and the context. The university wants performance-based pay evaluations while the faculty association does not, he added.