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Volume 91, Issue 34
Wednesday, October 29, 1997
Western's faculty vote to pursue unionization
HEY, THERE'S MY PROF! Faculty association members raised their hands when they were sure yesterday.
By Brendan Howe
The first step was taken yesterday on the long road to unionization for faculty members at Western.
In a general meeting of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association yesterday afternoon, members overwhelmingly backed a motion to pursue a campaign of certification, an action the association feels is necessary for the future of their organization.
Of the 138 voting members at the meeting, 110 voted to pursue certification while 22 voted against it and six people abstained.
"I was delighted at the outcome. Professors are traditionally cautious people, I had no idea there would be such an overwhelming majority," said UWOFA President Andrew Osler.
The initiative for certification came after UWOFA left the bargaining table with the university. Osler said the reason for this was the association believed anything they were likely to achieve in future negotiations was not moving towards a comprehensive agreement. The main issues are arbitration, deduction of mandatory fees and performance-based pay.
Western's VP-academic Greg Moran did not agree and said the administration has made several improvements in what they are offering the faculty. "I'm disappointed the faculty association has decided not to pursue any further the negotiations toward a comprehensive agreement," he said.
Moran said he would respect any choice UWOFA might make with regard to certification but warned the faculty to pay close attention to the discussion leading up to it.
Osler said students at the university will not see any immediate change in their education and only subtle changes in the future if the faculty association is certified as a union. These changes will be a shift in the way administration and faculty negotiate, he added.
Whether faculty members become unionized or not, they are committed to the researching and teaching environment at the university and students have nothing to fear when it comes to the quality of their education, Moran said.
Political science professor John McDougall was pleased UWOFA is on the track towards certification. "The faculty association in its current composition is no longer viable," he said, adding the association needs mandatory dues by all faculty in order to be financially strong and to revitalize the organization.
UWOFA is now in the process of signing-up faculty members to join the proposed union. Marjorie Ratcliffe, a Spanish professor organizing the certification campaign, said the association needs 40 per cent of the bargaining unit, most likely full-time profs, to sign-up and then they can file for certification with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
She said once they have filed for certification the Board must then hold a ratification vote where there must be a majority of faculty supporting the initiative to become a union. If that happens Western's faculty will then be unionized.
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