Windsor contract talks watched by national teachers group
The president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers is closely watching contract negotiations between University of Windsor administration and faculty.
Robin Vose, who also teaches history at St.Thomas University in New Brunswick, came to Windsor this week to meet with the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA).
Tensions are rising between the two side. The Windsor University Faculty Association has decided take a strike vote Aug. 14.
The move is in response to administration's decision to impose the conditions of their last contract offer, which the union rejected July 15.
"Bargaining always involved give and take, in this case there's no give and take going on," said Vose. "To have something imposed unilaterally is the opposite of bargaining."
Vose said the Windsor administration's plan to impose its "final contract" offer has never happened on this scale at any university across the country.
"To have things imposed, to set that precedent, that is something that would be toxic for all of us throughout Canada," said Vose. "It would undo a lot of the work that we've done to try and unionize our workplace and have that amount of say in our working conditions."
In a public statement issued last week, University president Alan Wildeman point out what the school sees as postives in the latest contract offer.
"There are a number of other items in the offer that provide increases," Wildeman's statement reads in part. "The University moved significantly beyond its previous monetary proposal. The administration’s offer results in an average 8.9 per cent increase in pay over three years for faculty, librarians, ancillary academic staff and sessional lecturers."
"Equally important, the offer is meant to assure faculty, librarians, ancillary academic staff, sessional lecturers, and sessional instructors that they are truly valued, and that it is the administration’s genuine desire to see the University of Windsor and the Windsor community be a place that is competitive and desirable to attract and retain the best people."
However, Vose said settling a contract which everyone agrees and that is fair would benefit students a lot more.
"An imposed settlement is not a settlement, an imposed contract leaves a lot of tension in the air, a lot of potential for further action down the line," he said.
The administration's move is just slowing the entire process down, said Vose.
"The professors still have the right to take strike votes, there could still be a lockout, there's all kinds of uncertainty that students don't need," Vose said.
Vose said he went through something similar at St. Thomas — the first university to lock out its professors.
"No one want's to see disrupted campuses," Vose said. "Professors get into this job because they love teaching, they love doing research, they want to have a settlement and they want to keep working."
Vose said if the contract is imposed and nothing changes, it could potentially end up in more labour unrest down the road.
Wildeman was not immediately available for comment.