Faculty question union rules
By Dave Yasvinski
Confusion ensued at yesterday's University of Western Ontario Faculty Association meeting over concerns of a broken promise.
The promise in question relates to the absence of a clause in the faculty's certification agreement which would allow members of faculty to direct their dues away from the union for "reasons of conscience." Many members of the faculty association believed this is their right.
Ernie Redekop, UWOFA vice-president, said although this clause was raised as a possibility, it was never promised.
To make a conscientious objection, a member would have to prove a long standing, deep-seated, moral objection based on joining unions, Redekop said. "The problem the faculty association faces is if that were included we would have to set up mechanisms to determine if cases are conscientious or not."
Redekop said the faculty association tried to get this clause to be a part of the comprehensive agreement they failed to form with university administration last year. He added if the membership still wants the clause UWOFA will go along with it.
Psychology professor Steve Lupker, said he will bring forward a motion at the next meeting to bring this issue to a vote. He said after last year's comprehensive agreement fell through, the drive for union certification began and the promise of allowing conscientious objections was, in fact, still made.
"It was promised in a certification newsletter it's only appropriate they live up to what they promised," he said.
Lupker added it is pointless for the faculty association to fight amongst themselves this needs to be settled. "I don't think it will pass but I certainly hope it will. There are too many people out there who don't believe the way to form a strong union is to give people the right to join or not join," he said.
Saying they did not promise this is wrong, said Richard Holt, professor of physics and astronomy, who quit the faculty association four years ago for reasons similar to this. "I call into question the honesty of some of the things they have said. I don't believe they are being forthright with their membership," he said.
Holt added the UWOFA's executive council likely changed their tune because they want as much money as possible. "These people aren't representing me but people who want to get paid no matter what they don't stand for things that are really important to the university, like research excellence.
"There has been no real discussion or attempt to take people's concerns into account. My personal feeling is that, yes, their agenda is going to lead to a strike," he said.