Western, UWOFA-LA reach tentative agreement

The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) and The University of Western Ontario have reached a tentative agreement for the UWOFA-Librarians and Archivists (UWOFA-LA) bargaining unit. The parties reached an agreement on all outstanding issues at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The 51 librarians and archivists have been on strike since Sept. 8. As part of a back-to-work protocol, UWOFA-LA took pickets down immediately.

If the four-year agreement is ratified by the union membership and Western’s Board of Governors, expected to take place toward the end of the week, striking workers could be back on the job early next week.

The terms of the agreement remain confidential until ratification by both parties.

“Western’s administration is pleased the university and UWOFA-LA were able to reach a tentative agreement that, upon ratification, could see the librarians and archivists back working early next week,” says Helen Connell, Western’s associate vice-president (communications and public affairs).

“I am pleased to be able to bring a tentative agreement to the striking librarian-archivists,” says Bryce Traister, UWOFA president. “This process has allowed for longstanding concerns to be communicated to a wider audience both within Western’s community and beyond. Being recognized for what you do is something everyone can understand. I applaud both negotiating teams for sticking with a tough discussion to this point.

“On our side of the street, now it’s up for the librarian-archivists to decide.”

Perhaps most importantly to students, all London Transit Commission (LTC) bus routes servicing Western’s campus returned to normal operations as of Tuesday evening. Bus route information on the LTC website was reset on Wednesday morning.

LTC buses avoided the campus interior for the duration of the strike. University officials were then forced to address the adjusted bus routes because of picket lines and bridge construction, which combined to cause headaches for commuters.

For Western, attention fully turns to several other active contract negotiations.

The contracts for CUPE Food Services (CUPE Local 2692), which represents 314 members, Operating Engineers (IUOE Local 772), which represents 10 members, and UWO Police Association, which represents 12 members, all expired June 30. Postdoctoral Associates (PSAC Local 611) are currently negotiating their first contract.

Talks will be held in the future for a first contract for approximately 280 ‘Group C’ employees in Western’s Hospitality Services. The part-time workers voted in March in favour of joining CUPE.

The UWOFA-LA strike was settled only days after members of Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 109 reached an agreement with the province late Sunday night. That means staff at all of the provinces 24 community colleges – including Fanshawe College in London – were back on the job Monday.