Volume 92, Issue 79

Wednesday, February 17, 1998


Federal budget fails to address education

Hailing a safety solution

U of T gets movie blues

Western alumnus feared dead after avalanche

Faculty vote against open voting rights

Washing hope into disease

Safety issues spring up before break

Faculty vote against open voting rights

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

Yesterday the University of Western Ontario's Faculty Association voted against making changes to their constitution – at least for now.

A motion brought before the membership by English Prof. David Bentley attempted to amend UWOFA's constitution to allow all members of Western's bargaining unit, which is composed of faculty members, to vote on principles brought before the association.

Presently, only members of the faculty association have the right to vote on contract issues. To be allowed to vote, members from the bargaining unit must first opt into the association. To make a change to the constitution the association must pass a mail ballot vote by a two-thirds majority. Such a ballot will not take place because the membership voted the idea down.

However, a subsequent motion to send it to UWOFA's policy governance committee for further review passed.

Bentley said he brought the motion forward with regret and sadness because of divisions which were becoming apparent within the faculty association. "Steps must be taken to make the association more inclusive. These factions would not exist at all if [UWOFA's] certification drive had been followed by a magnanimous extension of voting rights to all members of the bargaining unit.

"This would give a greater and stronger mandate for the negotiating team and pave the way for a contract," Bentley added.

However, UWOFA president Aniko Varpalotai said democracy entails participation and there has always been an open invitation for members of the bargaining unit to opt into the faculty association. "You would be hard pressed to find any democratic association who gives voting rights to anyone who rejects membership," she said.

Psychology Prof. Clive Seligman said he disagreed because everyone who has a stake in the contract should have a say in all the issues related to it. "I don't feel it should be our use of power to deny them the right to vote on the things that affect their lives."

He added making people opt into the association before being allowed to vote is like making them take a loyalty oath.

However, allowing the bargaining unit to vote on all the principles could slow down the negotiation process if old principles have to be revisited, said Mike Dawes, chief negotiator for the UWOFA. "I do not wish to see it unnecessarily extended by that – it is not my intention to make a career out of chief negotiator."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999