hopes to clean up
By Dan Perry
There is a possibility Western may start
to smell very, very bad.
The collective agreement between the
Canadian Union of Public Employees local 2361 - which represents
approximately 250 caretakers, trades people and arena workers
at Western - and the university expired Jun. 30 of this year
and a conciliator has been called in to mediate.
The two groups have met six times throughout
the past few months starting in early June and talks were originally
called off this past Tuesday, according to Fred Blake, the national
staff representative for CUPE, who is in charge of local 2361.
"It's not abnormal that talks
go beyond the end of [an agreement]," Blake said. "We've
reached an impasse," he remarked, adding concerns over
wages, job contracting and benefits are the key sticking points.
According to Blake, all employees represented
in the union are in a position where their jobs could potentially
be contracted out.
David Estok, director of Western's
department of communications and public affairs, said the university
was disappointed the two sides were not able to reach an agreement.
"We're still hopeful that we can
achieve a new agreement that is fair for both sides," he
Estok also noted both sides met briefly
Wednesday, but at that meeting the union requested a no-board
report, which, once filed by the conciliator, will leave a 17-day
window before the sides are in a legal strike or lockout position.
As to whether there were more talks
planned, both Estok and Blake said there are meetings expected
in late September or early October, through no definite date
has been set at this point.
Blake also expressed confidence in
the process. "[So far], it's been normal bargaining - the
relations between CUPE 2361 and the university have always been
good and I would say they still are," he said.
No matter what happens in the upcoming
meetings, Estok asserted Western was currently putting a contingency
plan into place.