Prof resigns over UWOFA policy
By Brendan Howe
In the heart of their drive for unionization, one member the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association's executive has resigned due to a decision made on a proposed racial-harassment and research-misconduct policy.
Frederick Dreyer, a professor of history, said his decision came after his fellow executive decided not to bring the policy, which had been negotiated last year, to a vote of its members. Instead, UWOFA intends to make it a part of the comprehensive agreement the association plans to negotiate after their certification drive is completed.
"I felt it was wrong and I felt it was something of interest to the members of the faculty association," he said, adding he wanted them to know this option was available to them.
Dreyer resigned by writing a letter to the editor of the administration's newspaper, Western News, on Thursday.
Andrew Osler, president of the UWOFA, said the policy has come close to a final state but he feels it is not complete. He added the wording is not entirely clear and it is also a timing problem.
"The policy, standing in the context of a comprehensive agreement, would be better," Osler said.
One of the negotiators of the policy and member of the UWOFA, Ken Hilborn, said under the current system, when a faculty member is accused of racial or research misconduct the burden of proof is on them but in the new policy it will be on the dean of that faculty.
He added the new policy will contain a guarantee of counsel for an accused professor an element the current one lacks as well as other provisions regarding both race and research misconduct procedures.
The UWOFA is currently obtaining cards signed by faculty members and once 40 per cent of the perspective members of the union have signed them there will be a ratification vote held. Osler would not say how many cards have been signed thus far but said the vote will happen in the near future.
Dryer admitted he is not a big supporter of unions. He was quick to say, however, he has known for a long time the UWOFA was heading in the union direction but would never have resigned over that.
"I find unions coercive and illiberal associations," he said. He added compulsory membership, union dues and not letting people make up their own minds are his reasons for this. Dryer is scheduled to retire at the start of July.
Negotiations for a comprehensive agreement were taking place all summer and broke off in late October.
Western VP-academic Greg Moran said whether the UWOFA unionizes or not they will be back at the bargaining table after the process is complete, with probably the same people as during the summer.
The current agreement runs out in July so there is some urgency in getting the certification process completed, Osler said.