by Travis Fauteux
The Lance – News Editor
Students remain hopeful that a deal can be reached while the possibility of a full strike looms over the University of Windsor campus.
If a collective agreement is not reached before Oct. 1, less than a week away, faculty at the university will begin a full work stoppage. Faculty and university administration have agreed not to speak with the media following an exploratory meeting on Tuesday, the first meeting between the two parties since July.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour released a statement, stating “the parties met with the provincially appointed mediator for exploratory talks on Tuesday September 23. The content and nature of these talks are subjected to a blackout and remain confidential.”
As of right now, no further talks have been scheduled.
Sarah O’Neil, a first year English and creative writing student at the University, said that although the meeting is a sign of hope for avoiding a strike, she is concerned about the potential effects on students.
“It’s really nerve wracking because I’ve paid a lot of money to get into this,” said O’Neil. “I’ve put a whole year towards this – it’s a year of my life that I won’t get back – and if they go on strike, what am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to go to my classes?”
A full-day strike and a half-day strike have already occurred on Sept. 15 and 18 respectively, an attempt by faculty to pressure administration without harming students, but O’Neil said that even those minor strikes had larger implications.
“I’ve already missed two days [because of strikes] and some of those were important to me,” said O’Neil. “Some were labs and other important classes that I need.”
Rob Csapo, a first year computer science student, said two of his assignments had to be rescheduled due to the past strikes and he hopes a full strike can be avoided soon.
“It’s my first year so I don’t really know too much and it’s going to make it hard to get acclimated to everything and getting my classes all set,” said Csapo. “I don’t really know how to feel about it exactly, but it kind of sucks because I’m here to learn and I’m paying for it.”
Csapo said that the fact that the first meeting between the two parties since July occurred only a week before the strike deadline shows a serious problem in the negotiations thus far.
“I think it’s both sides’ [fault],” said Csapo. “I don’t really think that, right now, they’re trying to cooperate … I’m hoping they can come to an agreement soon. It’s been a long time to figure something out with each other.”
Negotiations broke off in the summer when University administration imposed on faculty the terms and conditions of it’s “final offer” on Jul. 28.
Issues with the administration’s last offer included a three per cent wage increase over three years, which is less than the provincial average that is in keeping with an annual 2 per cent inflation rate. In addition, the offer stated that members would cease to receive progress through the ranks increments after 30 years of employment.
Administration also asked WUFA members to contribute an extra one per cent of their income contribution to their pension plan.
The Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) represents all faculty, librarians, sessional members and ancillary academic staff at the University of Windsor, over 1,000 members in total.