Western profs build strike war chest - Macleans.ca

Western profs build strike war chest

CAUT donates $1million to Western faculty union


University of Western Ontario faculty could be on strike as early as the first week of November, and they will have no shortage of funds to pay for it. The Canadian Association of University Teachers has donated $1million, in the form of an over-sized novelty cheque, to the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association. The donation comes from CAUT’s $22 million strike defence fund that was established in 1978.

On Oct 1 Western professors voted 87 per cent in favor of giving the faculty association a strike mandate. Last week, the union requested a government appointed conciliator file a no-board report, meaning that a negotiated settlement could not be reached with the university. Under Ontario labour laws, a cooling off period of 17 days is required before the union can legally strike. Unless a settlement is reached, classes could be canceled by the first week of November.

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Western profs build strike war chest

  1. Dear Western Profs,
    There are other employees are Western that are not unionized. They make just above minimum wage, work their butts off and don’t get the benefits you do. They live in parts of London you likely never set foot in and drive cars most Western students would scoff and laugh at.
    You going on strike will cause these employees to not be able to go to work until it is resolved. No profs = No students. No Students = No work. No work = No money.

    No Money when you’re already at the poverty line is not good. I am fearful for my family and the other families that will be effected by this possible strike.

  2. Dear Me,

    The solution to people being underpaid is not to attack unions – it is to organize and fight the employers who treat us poorly. Rather than criticizing the faculty association for being organized and prepared to defend its interest, you should recognize the strength that comes from a union. You should contact a union organizer and start working to get certified – then you too will be able to fight for the respect and dignity you deserve. Many unions allready operate on campus across Canada, including CAW, CUPE, PSAC and many others – one of them might be a good start.

    Good luck!

  3. I agree with Matt.
    The way to improve your position is not to attack other positions who are fighting for their own rights.
    I’m sorry you’re underpaid, but really, I went to school for 14 years of post-secondary education to get this job. I then fought hard through several years of below-minimum-wage adjunct work and unemployment. I lived on the “wrong side of the tracks” in London and rode my bicycle in to UWO to teach my classes.
    So please, I am fighting for rights that I EARNED through several decades of “paying the piper” in advance. I am going to fight tooth and nail to keep my rights.

  4. @Me – That you for reminding us that it’s not just the faculty and students who lose in the event of a strike – nearly everyone who works at Western or is heavily affiliated with Western will see very damaging consequences. Too often we focus on the students and professors without considering the interconnectedness of university campuses.

    That being said, these professors have worked very hard and deserve to paid at least what other schools pay. Western chronically underpays their professors and is not threatening to impose sanctions (review boards, tenure review, etc.) that is unheard of in universities. Loss of academic freedom is a serious issue and I wouldn’t want to work or attend a university that doesn’t take these issues seriously.

    My support and sympathy to everyone involved in the strike, from faculty members to contract workers to the hospitality staff and so forth. I myself am doing graduate studies at Western and I know my life will be severely interrupted in the event of a strike but the only person to fault is the administration for making a series of very bad calls.

    I sincerely hope that our wonderful faculty members stick it out for what they believe in instead of caving early. They care about their students far more than most people would believe and striking is the last thing they want to do for either themselves or their students. The university has simply failed them and given them no choice.

  5. Correction to above post:

    *not = now threatening to impose

  6. @Me: Have you availed yourself of what contract faculty at UWO makes? Zero job security at low pay. And, guess what? Contract faculty are becoming more of a majority on campus. I know many contract faculty, and they cannot even afford to buy a car or live in those more opulent London neighbourhoods.

    My suggestion is that if you really care about employment conditions, rally to form a union. If you care to avert the strike, make your (informed) views known by sending an email to the University president.

  7. The fact is that this is not about money.

    The issue is academic freedom. It is important to understand that all top research universities protect academic freedom by making tenure sacrosanct.

    People outside academia often scoff at tenure, but earning it is hard. To earn tenure people often have to work crazy hours for years to produce the research that establishes their position as an expert in their field. Even after tenure most professors work insane hours (a US government study states that Faculty on average work 54 hour weeks.)

    The real reason that tenure is important is that most universities, especially top research universities, work on a system of collegial governance. This means that universities are governed by the faculty through the senate and faculty and departmental boards, as well as the board of governors (which also includes faculty as well as community and alumni members). Hence administrators are the servants of the faculty not their bosses.

    If the administrators get to abrogate tenure, or if non-experts managers are allowed to decide tenure status, collegial governance of the university is threatened. This threatens to turn the institution into a second rate technical college.

    Universities, like most institutions, take on the characteristics of their leaders, if you want a research university, it must be run by researchers, if you want a second rate college, let it be run by the administrators.