President’s message to students, faculty and staff

Labour negotiations that are underway, with impending strike deadlines for both the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) and the University of Western Ontario Staff Association (UWOSA), are of great concern to our entire campus community.

UWOFA has established a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. on November 3, 2010. Contract talks continue with five negotiation meetings scheduled prior to November 3, including meetings with the provincially appointed mediator November 1 and 2.

While UWOSA has yet to announce a strike deadline, the union could be in a legal position to call a strike on 12:01 a.m. on November 4, 2010. Negotiations are continuing with UWOSA and a provincially appointed conciliator is involved in assisting the two sides to reach a settlement.

As President, I want to assure you that everything possible is being done to avoid a work disruption and to achieve negotiated settlements that are responsible and appropriate, and that will continue to enable Western to recruit and retain the highest calibre faculty and staff.

Western does not negotiate in public, respecting our collectively organized groups by holding discussions at the table where both sides can work together to resolve differences and find common ground. It is out of respect for the negotiating process that I am not going to discuss matters that properly belong at the bargaining table. On behalf of Western’s faculty negotiating team, however, I want to clarify that tenure and academic freedom are at the heart of what it means to be a university and these two central values are not – and nor have they ever been – up for negotiation.

Given the current circumstances, I want to assure you that the University is placing its highest priority on ensuring undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral scholars, will all have the opportunity to successfully achieve their academic goals. While I remain confident that settlements can be achieved in our negotiations, in the interests of our students the University has developed contingency plans should they be required in the event of a work disruption involving either UWOSA or UWOFA.

We know students and other members of our campus community have many questions about how a potential labour disruption could impact them and we will be providing answers to many of these questions early this week and posting them on Western’s homepage. We will be continually updating this site as answers become available.

I sincerely believe that all the parties involved are fully committed to bargaining in good faith and are making every effort to reach a settlement. You can keep up-to-date on the progress of negotiations through our contract negotiations website at http://communications.uwo.ca/contract_negotiations/index.htm, join Western’s official Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/theuniversityofwesternontario or by following @westernu on Twitter.