With a strike possibly approaching, Western and their faculty are determining what academic services will be available to students should a strike occur.
The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association and representatives of their employer, Western University, are negotiating their “strike protocol” as part of labour negotiations that began in June.
Most classes will be closed, LTC buses will not enter campus and professors will be advised by UWOFA against marking assignments. Whether professors will have access to their OWL and UWO email accounts will be determined by the strike protocol.
Classes at affiliate colleges, some classes at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, selected programs in Health Sciences and Continuing Studies would not be affected by a strike. Most clinical placements and internships would be unaffected.
The development of a strike protocol is a standard process and does not mean a strike is imminent.
Despite bargaining issues in the past, Western’s faculty have never struck before.
“We remain cautiously optimistic,” said UWOFA president Dan Belliveau. “We are still at the bargaining table, and I think being at the bargaining table means the possibility of an agreement exists. We will continue to be negotiating for the next days.”
Belliveau outlined that students may be able to continue their assignments; however, the assistance of faculty members for the purpose of answering questions will be affected.
Western echoed Belliveau in a statement released Monday:
“Both sides have been working diligently to reach a settlement.… The university is committed to ensuring students’ experience at Western remains positive and productive.”
UWOFA has set a strike deadline for this Friday, Nov. 9. If no agreement is reached by this deadline, a strike may begin. However, if an agreement appears to be within reach, the strike deadline can be delayed to allow for further deliberation.
Two main issues are in debate: faculty salaries that match inflation and better job security for contract professors.
Last year, York went on strike for nearly five months after reaching an impasse during negotiations. Ontario Premier Doug Ford eventually stepped in to end the strike with back-to-work legislation.
Fanshawe College saw a strike last year as the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the College Employer Council entered into negotiations. The five-week strike at Fanshawe saw 1,500 students drop out and caused a delay in the fall/winter term.