Volume 96, Issue 2

Thursday, May 30, 2002
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Butting out

Western rich in research

Southern kids winners, northern kids losers

Faculty Association and university set to clash


And the teaching Oscar goes to...

The North: not Ontario's favourite child

News Briefs

Faculty Association and university set to clash

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association has filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board citing unfair labour practices against the university's administration.

The complaint relates to the administration's demands that UWOFA submit a complete package of non-monetary proposals prior to the start of contract negotiations.

According to UWOFA president Paul Handford, the complaint was filed because the full disclosure demand is unreasonable and represents a departure from how negotiations have progressed in the past. "We thought they might need a little stimulus to bring them to the table," Handford said.

Western VP-administration Peter Mercer said he disagreed with the suggestion that the university's demand was unfair or unique. "In the private sector, it would be virtually unheard of for negotiations to start without full packages disclosed on both sides," Mercer said.

Both sides accused the other of delaying negotiations.

"The administration's team [has] been ready to start negotiations since early January," Mercer said. "There's no reason why a full set of proposals [could not] be provided," he added.

"We complained because, at the time, the administration refused to talk to us," Handford said. "This was a surprise to us because this was not the way we [negotiated] last time.

"[In 1998] we started out with a small number of proposals. We see absolutely no reason why we couldn't proceed that way [again]," Handford stated. "There were never any complaints from the administration last time."

According to Mercer, the previous contract negotiations were handled differently because the administration agreed on a preliminary basis to open discussions. "[We] always took the position that the normal process was that a full set [of proposals] was exchanged," Mercer stated. "We made it explicit."

Handford said non-monetary issues, such as academic freedom, have no direct implication on other issues. "It's certainly not true that everything is intimately linked with everything else," he said. "One has to recognize that you have to talk about some items first."

Voy Stelmaszyski, a solicitor with the OLRB, said the complaint does not necessarily halt negotiations. "We're still waiting for the response from the [university]," he said.

The university has 10 working days to respond to the complaint, which was lodged on May 16, according to Stelmaszyski. After they have received a response from the university, OLRB officials have approximately eight weeks to meet with both parties, he said.

Mercer said the university's response is being prepared and will soon be submitted to the OLRB.

UWOFA's current contract expires Jun. 30.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002