Frohmann: Chief negotiator’s resignation a blow to UWOFA

On Jan. 31, professor Aniko Varpalotai resigned as chief negotiator for the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association, explaining her decision at a General Meeting of the association and in an open letter.

The reasons Varpalotai gave for her resignation were “an alarming shift in the culture of our association and, in particular, the fundamental assault on a chief negotiator’s authority and ability to negotiate the mandate we were given by both the board and the members of the UWOFA-LA (Librarian and Archivist) Bargaining Unit.” She referred to the “unwarranted and unprecedented mistrust, lack of confidence and disrespect shown to me and my team during the UWOFA-LA strike, and since then.”

In addition, she noted that since the conclusion of the LA negotiations the LA negotiating team had worked hard to develop a list of recommendations for improving negotiations in the future that was discussed with, and amended at the request of the UWOFA president, but which has, so far, been ignored.

Varpalotai’s participation in UWOFA affairs has been long and highly productive. She has served as president of the association, sat on many of its committees, was instrumental in its two certification drives and eight negotiating teams since unionization. For several years, she served as deputy chief negotiator, and about a year ago took over from professor Mike Dawes and acted as chief negotiator for UWOFA in the LA negotiations that concluded in September.

We are friends and colleagues of Varpalotai who have participated with her in these activities. We can vouch for her dedication, hard work, reasonableness and professionalism. There is hardly a better liked, more sincere or more honest person on this campus. There is clearly something seriously awry when an individual as experienced, competent and talented as Varpalotai decides she has to resign as chief negotiator.

For further information about Varpalotai’s resignation, we encourage you to:

  1. Read her resignation letter;
  2. Read the recommendations made by the LA Negotiating Team after the strike this fall;
  3. Raise concerns with a member of the UWOFA Board of Directors.

Varpalotai’s resignation as chief negotiator is extremely unfortunate for UWOFA.

It takes a lot of time and hard work for an individual to acquire the knowledge and skills required to be a chief negotiator. Collective agreements in the university sector are long and complex documents. No one can achieve mastery of the chief negotiator’s task quickly. In short order, UWOFA has lost two extremely competent chief negotiators – Dawes through retirement, and now Varpalotai through resignation.

It is very important that the UWOFA board ensures that the replacement for Varpalotai receives a high degree of support and trust so that the success we have achieved at the negotiating table in the past can be built on in future negotiations.

Bernd Frohmann, FIMS associate professor
Former member of UWOFA, UWOFA-LA negotiating teams
Former UWOFA board member, executive member

Elizabeth Bruton, associate librarian
UWOFA-LA negotiating team (2004-06)

Marisa Surmacz, assistant librarian
UWOFA-LA negotiating team (2010-11)

Bev Brereton, associate archivist
UWOFA-LA negotiating team (2004-11)
Former UWOFA secretary, board member

Paul Handford, Biology emeritus professor
Long-term UWOFA executive/board member
UWOFA President (2002-03)
UWOFA negotiating team for CAs 3 and 4.

Marilyn Norman, Education lecturer
Long-term UWOFA executive/board memberUWOFA negotiating team for CAs 3 and 4

Mike Dawes, Mathematics professor emeritus
Former chief negotiator

Linda Dunn, associate librarian
UWOFA-LA Negotiating Team (2004-11)
Deputy chief negotiator, UWOFA-LA (2006-11)

John Sadler, senior librarian
UWOFA-LA negotiating team  (2008-09)

Jim Davies, Economics professor
UWOFA, UWOFA-LA negotiating teams
Former UWOFA treasurer, board member

Ann Bigelow, Management and Organizational Studies lecturer
UWOFA negotiating team (2009-10), UWOFA-LA negotiating team (2010-11)
Former UWOFA treasurer and board member