Volume 96, Issue 20
Wednesday October 2, 2002

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Faculty underpaid?

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

Western professors have the lowest salaries among the 10 largest universities in Ontario, according to the UWO Faculty Association.

The statement, released by the UWOFA last week in its Bargaining Bulletin, comes as contract negotiations continue between faculty and Western's administration.

Salary proposals were discussed at the general faculty association meeting yesterday and the finalized proposal will be sent to the negotiating table, said UWOFA President Paul Handford.

Handford said he felt the salary ranking might give the faculty association some leverage during negotiations.

"One would think it ought to, especially when you read that in conjunction with the administration's strategic plan," he said.

Western's director of faculty relations Alex Mercer said the ranking of salaries will likely be determined at the bargaining table.

"Our main objective is to get the increased salaries to faculty as soon as possible," Mercer said, adding the faculty should have had a new contract in July.

"We're pretty unhappy at the overall rate of progress," Handford said, adding UWOFA and administration are close on some important items.

According to Mercer, the relative slowness in negotiations is proportional to the number of proposals put on the table by the UWOFA.

Henry Jacek, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, said universities recognize that they need to maintain faculty quality.

"There is a faculty shortage in English-speaking universities across [North America]," he said.

"If Western doesn't offer proper salaries to their faculty, they are going to lose faculty at [a significant rate]," Jacek said.

University Students' Council President Chris Sinal said the problem is a systematic lack of post-secondary education funding.

"I think it's part of a greater concern, especially for administration," Sinal said, adding less money, concerns over tuition and the need to manage expenses all pose a problem.

"Concerns brought forward by the faculty association should be examined," Sinal said.

"I think retaining key faculty will always be a concern for the university," he said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE