Volume 93, Issue 41

Thursday, November 11, 1999


Rez council in the works for Saugeen

Extra councillor not needed

USC approves Remembrance Week

Contract negotiations still await

Canadians punch more time on clock

Relief effort led by Western prof


Caught on campus

Contract negotiations still await

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

There is no end in sight to the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association's current negotiations over their first contract with Western administration, but officials do not think time is of the essence.

With over a year of face-to-face talks with administration under their belts, UWOFA's negotiating team has scheduled meetings with their counterparts up to Dec. 24, said Mike Dawes, UWOFA's chief negotiator.

"We now have 12 articles signed off as of Nov. 5, however more than 30 remain on the table," he said at an information meeting yesterday.

Dawes explained two of the articles which were cleared, one regarding appointments and the other promotions and tenure, represent a growing mutual appreciation on both sides. "It's by no means a situation where the association and the administration remain as far apart as they have been in the past," he said. "It's likely to continue in this mode for [some] time," he said.

However, political science professor Martin Westmacott said he was anxious to see the contract get finished. If the talks drag on, Westmacott said, it would have adverse effects. "I'd just like to see some fast progress and some evidence the ship is moving," he said.

"If the word gets out this place can't negotiate a salary agreement, this won't be an attractive place to come and work," he added, explaining younger faculty may be more inclined to teach at schools where contracts are already in place.

Sociology professor Douglas Baer said the slow pace of negotiations was inevitable. "Even easy articles can occupy entire negotiating sessions because of wording. I don't think there is anything such as an 'easy article,'" he said.

Dawes said the administration's negotiating team was also intent on careful wording, which contributed to the lengthy talks.

"Their chief negotiator here is a lawyer with a strong interest in leaving as little as possible up to interpretation," he said. "[Western's VP-administration] Peter Mercer's style is different than, let's say, Tom Collins, so we're still getting used to it."

Mercer said he thought negotiations were going well, but added it would be a matter of months before the talks were finally laid to rest.

"[Negotiations] are going slowly by many people's standards, but only because they're highly deliberative. We've had a number of articles signed on an interim basis and the talks are going along in harmony and good faith," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999