By Dave Yasvinski
Western professors moved a little closer to their first collective bargaining agreement Monday after the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association presented a list of ten proposals to university administration.
The faculty association, which received its union status last May from the Ontario Labour Board, is composed of full and part-time professors who have been teaching without a contract since July.
Aniko Varpalotai, president of the UWOFA, said the proposals range from items such as academic freedom to intellectual property. We are drafting up proposals on a weekly basis and giving them to the administration, she added.
Varpalotai said because the UWOFA will likely have submitted about 50 clauses before they are done, they are hoping administration will agree to negotiate certain clauses now instead of waiting for all 50 first.
"Some clauses are more individual than others ultimately the whole package has to be ratified at the end. There would be the understanding that we can come back and visit ratified clauses," she said.
But Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, said negotiation can only begin after they have received all the proposals because it is difficult to negotiate proposals in isolation. "It is not like they are separate and independent, they tend to be related. There is no point in reacting to the first proposal until you know the full range of issues," he said.
Mike Dawes, chief negotiator for the UWOFA, said it is difficult to tell how long it will take to come to terms on an agreement because this is the first time the UWOFA has negotiated such a contract. "I have every hope we'll arrive at a collective agreement satisfactory to both parties with a minimum of disruption," he said.
However, people have to understand this will take time, Mercer noted. "This is a brand new relationship. We are establishing processes that will be fruitful in the long run."
Varpalotai agreed the negotiation process would take considerable time because the first contract formed is usually the most extensive. "I would guess [it will take] the full academic year. That's being optimistic," she said.