Imminent faculty strike unlikely
The possibility of a faculty strike or lockout before the end of the academic term is virtually impossible, as the conciliation process has begun and the next meeting is scheduled for Mar. 28.
Western's director of communications and public affairs David Estok said concilliator John Miller met with representatives from the administration and University of Western Ontario Faculty Association on Monday. "Both sides are still hoping to reach an agreement," Estok said.
Estok said the long delay between meetings may have to do with the availability of the parties. "[A work stoppage] is not totally impossible, but the likelihood of an academic interruption this academic year [is very small]," he said.
UWOFA president Paul Handford said Monday's meeting was relatively short. "Essentially, the context of the meeting was an opportunity for the conciliator to provide an initial reality check for the two teams," Handford said. "Since the recognition that conciliation wouldn't even begin until the 17th, it's been pretty clear that, unless one side were using conciliation as a step towards an interruption, [there wouldn't be one]."
Handford said he does not think the union has lost any leverage as a result. "The issues haven't changed," he said. "It's just a rescheduling of events."
University Students' Council President Chris Sinal urged both sides to keep talking. "The fact that a work stoppage occurring before the end of exams is much less likely comes as a relief," he said. "There's [still] a danger that student academic careers could be threatened in the summer or next year."
Both the administration and UWOFA said they are still hopeful a deal will be reached through negotiation.