Western T.A. strike averted
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Western Graduate Teaching Assistants were eager to end what could have been a strike situation by voting to fully ratify a collective agreement between the union and Western's administration Monday night.
In the first of its kind, the agreement is truly a sign of good things to come for both parties involved, said Colin MacPherson, former president of the local GTA and member of the negotiating team.
"This process was started from scratch and took a very long time because every article had to be clearly looked at in turn," MacPherson said, adding the sticking point of the deal was monetary.
Both groups were willing to work towards an agreement which included the monetary issue, he said, adding neither side backed down but rather each side had to compensate back and forth until a deal was accomplished.
"This is an excellent first contract," said Rick Walker, chief union steward for the social science division and VP-finance for the Society of Graduate Students.
Because the bargaining process is so novel to both students and the university, Walker said future negotiations will be much easier because of this contract.
As for the potential strike which loomed over the agreement for many months, Walker said this course of action was only considered an aid in speeding up on-going arbitration.
"It seems as if the university decided that a labour strike was not the way they wanted to go on the issue and got back to the bargaining table with the union," he said.
Peter Mercer, VP-administration at Western, said he is very pleased with the outcome of the collective agreement, adding that the timing is partly coincidental.
"Concern over this issue abated a good deal in the last spring and since it is hard to have a substantial vote in the summer, the agreement has only now been put forth," Mercer said.
The agreement, which has been fully ratified by members of the GTA, will go to the Board of Governors Oct. 2 to put ratification of the agreement to a vote by the administration.
Mercer said he sees no reason for there be any problems in getting the agreement settled and is pleased with how the working relationships have turned out.
"Anytime a first contract is negotiated, it shows there is a good working relationship between the parties," he said, adding the administration values graduate students and would like to keep a good working relationship with them.