Strikes loom over campus

History repeating? The scene during 2008’s WUFA strike. • photo robert woodrich History repeating? The scene during 2008’s WUFA strike. • photo robert woodrich
History repeating? The scene during 2008’s WUFA strike. • photo robert woodrich

WUFA and CUPE 1393 request strike deadlines

Rahul Radhakrishnan
NEWS EDITOR

MMore than half of all university employees are set to go on strike in the next two weeks if upcoming negotiations with administration fail.

Windsor University Faculty Association, which represents approximately 1,000 professors, librarians and instructors, has requested a no board report from the Ontario Ministry of Labour after collective bargaining with the university administration concluded on Sept. 23.

According to a Sept. 23 update by the university’s bargaining team, the administration is still waiting on the union’s response to its most recent offer. Mediation talks are scheduled for Oct. 4 and 5.

Similarly, the Canadian Union of Public Employees 1393, which comprises of technical and professional staff and tradespeople, is also set for a strike position at 12 a.m. on Oct. 1 if a collective agreement with the university administration is not reached during negotiations on Sept. 28, 29 and 30. Its members requested a no board report from the ministry on Sept. 12.

A no board report is requested by the conciliator when an agreement between the two negotiating parties cannot be met. Once the ministry issues the no board report, the unions are eligible to go into a legal job action position 17 days later.

During this period, the university administration could lock out the bargaining unit members or both parties can continue to negotiate.
Both WUFA and CUPE members voted 90 per cent in favour of a strike mandate this month. The unions share similar concessionary concerns with respect to job security, pensions and employment insurance.

According to a Sept. 23 press release from WUFA, negotiating the more significant concessions with administration, such as pensions and the Windsor Salary Standard, has been challenging.

“The Windsor University Faculty Association negotiating team will continue to protect our members rights and work toward a fairly negotiated collective agreement,” said WUFA president Brian Brown, who was recently recognized for his efforts by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.

“To be able to retain and recruit top academics and librarians for our university, requires a competitive collective agreement with other ontario universities,” he added.

Aldo DiCarlo, president of CUPE 1393, said the union has been in arbitration for almost a year and a half. “We’re one of those few (university unions) who are prepared to take a wage freeze in hopes that it will keep the tuition costs down and other labour costs down at the university and that’s what makes the positions so unusual, and the university doesn’t seem to be reciprocating.”

Why would the university spend more money than they have to. The university is paying outside contractors up to $100 an hour. – Aldo DiCarlo, president of CUPE 1393

According to DiCarlo, the university is spending twice the union salary on contract employees.

Holly Ward, the executive director of public affairs and communications at the university, reiterated that talks between the administration and WUFA have not failed and mediation talks will be held next week.

“Right now we’re not focused on the strike because we’re focused on getting a deal. It’s premature to talk about the possibility of a strike since the no board report hasn’t been issued yet,” she said.

“Why would the university spend more money than they have to. We ask that question all the time. The university is paying outside contractors up to $100 an hour, and if our members were doing it or if we hired more full-time members who need to work, they’d be paying about half of that including benefits and everything,” DiCarlo said.

Ward wasn’t able to comment on the appointment of contract workers.

Ward said that claims of a lack of co-operation and negotiating are “simply not true … We are confident that a fiscally responsible agreement can be reached in our upcoming discussions [with CUPE 1393] this week.”

“Classes will continue and offices will remain open with reduced services if a strike does take place.”

More information on this ongoing story can be found on uwindsorlance.ca, wufa.ca and uwindsor.ca/bargaining.

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