It's all for one for faculty members
By Mark Brown
Western's faculty will negotiate as a single bargaining unit despite the wishes of Western's administration after receiving certification from the Ontario Labour Board late last week.
The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association received their certification three months after submitting an application, said Kris Heshka, a solicitor at the Ontario Labor Relations Board. The certification would have been granted earlier if there were no disputes, she added.
The UWOFA wanted full and part-time professors to be included in a single bargaining unit while administration wanted them to be separate. "There is going to be one bargaining unit for both part-time and full-time faculty members, this was the only obstacle left," said Aniko Zarpalotai, president of the UWOFA.
"Our interests overlap full and part-time faculty," she added. "If we had been kept separate we might have been pitted against each other."
Western's VP-administration Peter Mercer said the university believes the history of the faculty association did not represent part-time faculty and thought there was a difference in the issues for part-time and full-time faculty.
However, sociology professor Edward Grab said there will be more solidarity if all units of the association act together.
Terry Base, a professor of mechanical and materials engineering, agreed. "I think it formalizes the faculty association by making it a more recognizable unit," he said.
Still, Mercer said he was not discouraged by the OLRB decision, adding the university will proceed in negotiations with the UWOFA in good faith. "We're not looking at this in an adversarial way. I am not going to give the thought of [a strike] any thought."
Zarpalotai shared Mercer's outlook and said both sides are approaching the negotiations very optimistic and upbeat. "Now that we have our certification we will begin negotiating for our first contract it will probably take up to a year to bring back an offer to our members," she said.