Volume 95, Issue 52
Tuesday, December 4, 2001
UWO, staff reach tentative deal
Potential strike may be averted
By Erin Conway-Smith
A scheduled strike vote by the UWO Staff Association was cancelled this weekend after Western administration and staff reached a tentative agreement during last ditch negotiations.
The two parties reached a tentative agreement Saturday night following 12 hours of negotiation, said UWOSA president Sue Desmond.
At a meeting held yesterday, UWOSA executives recommended the agreement be put to association members for a ratification vote on Dec. 10, she said.
"I can't discuss the issues because membership has not yet been informed of the details," Desmond said.
"I can say that if there was such a thing as the ratification vote failing on Monday, the university would still be in a position to lock us out as of 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12," she explained.
"If we had a strike mandate, then we would also be in a position to go on strike," she said.
At an information meeting scheduled for this Friday, UWOSA executives and council will outline to members the details of the tentative agreement.
Even if the membership approves the new agreement next Monday, it still has to be ratified by Western's Board of Governors, Desmond said.
David Estok, Western director of communications, said the university tabled an improved proposal to UWOSA on Saturday. "We made moves to improve the offer," he said.
"We're hoping the membership will think it's a fair agreement," Estok added.
During Saturday's negotiations, the two parties also agreed to move the date for a legal strike or lock out from Dec. 10 to Dec. 12 to give the UWOSA membership enough time to hold a ratification vote for the new agreement, Estok said.
Estok said he could not divulge the details of the agreement, but said it was modeled after standing agreements with other associations on-campus.
Adrienne Serra, a fourth-year combined honours French and visual arts student, said she was concerned when she heard about the possibility of a strike.
Serra said she was worried about potential problems getting transcripts for graduate school applications from the Office of the Registrar, an area that would be affected by a strike.
"I'm relieved to not have to worry about administrative delays in getting my grad school applications out on time," she said, but added she did not want to underestimate what UWOSA is fighting for.
UWOSA represents approximately 1,000 technical and administrative support staff at Western, including secretaries, library assistants, research technicians and administrative assistants.
Negotiations have been on-going since UWOSA's collective agreement expired June 30, 2001. On Nov. 19, a Ministry of Labour conciliator brought in by Western filed a no board report, indicating the two sides could not reach an agreement, following 13 hours of negotiations.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001