Volume 96, Issue 61
Friday, January 17, 2003

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Faculty breast-feeding stations milk controversy

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

A document authored by Western's administration that details some of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association's demands in the current contract negotiations has created a controversy.

The document, entitled "Bargaining Update," details some of UWOFA's non-salary proposals. The document includes "breast-feeding stations on every floor of every building" and "covered bicycle sheds adjacent to every entrance of every campus building," among the faculty's proposals.

David Estok, director of Western's communications and public affairs department, said he could not say whether the document was meant to be public. "Our position would be that [the proposals] are a discussion for the negotiation table," he said.

"We never asked for breast-feeding stations on every floor or bicycle racks," said economics professor Jim Davies, adding he felt the purpose of the document was to make the union look unreasonable.

According to psychology professor Albert Katz, UWOFA's demands are misconstrued in the recent document and are quite reasonable, adding some of their demands are designed to attract new female faculty members. "I was very disappointed by the whole tone of the [administration's bargaining update]," he said.

Meanwhile, UWOFA's decision to hold a vote on a strike mandate has led to conflicting opinions among faculty members..

"I think [the strike vote] is very premature," said Steve Lupker, a professor in the department of psychology.

The faculty has little information [with which to make an informed vote] at this point, Lupker said, noting there have been no attempts to reconcile or arbitrate.

"I guarantee you it will be a divisive issue [among faculty]," Lupker said, adding such divisiveness is an inevitable by-product of holding a vote.

Lupker said he does not view some of UWOFA's proposals as serious, adding some of them may have been presented just to be rejected as part of the bargaining process.

"The offer the administration made on salary and benefits is very low and is very dangerous for the future of the university," Davies said, adding he thinks the faculty is very unified in its position.

Katz said he hoped negotiations would continue regardless of the outcome of the vote, adding he did not feel the strike vote was premature because, in many cases, strike votes take place prior to the start of negotiations.


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