Members from the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) and the university’s administration kept in close contact on Thursday, as the two parties held last minute negotiations before a fast-approaching deadline.
The Thursday talks are centered on pay and job security and if UWOFA’s demands aren’t met by midnight, the union has threatened to strike by 12:01 p.m. on Friday.
Speaking to XFM News during a break between negotiations, UWOFA president Dan Belliveau didn’t say whether the outlook seemed positive for faculty, only that union members were standing by their demands.
“They recognize that contract faculty are in vulnerable positions. They are in situations where they may need to find employment at two or three universities in order to achieve a living wage,” said Belliveau.
Preparing for the unknown
Around campus, a number of porta-potties have been set up in order to accommodate potential picket lines.
“This is part of being prepared in the event that we are forced to go on strike,” said Belliveau, adding that a number of communications have been sent to union members informing them what to do if a strike is to occur.
As for students, a short stroll along Concrete Beach will have one eavesdropping on conversations between people worried for what’s to come.
“I think we’re just worried about our grades and our classes being affected,” said student Sarah Hendry.
Another student named Aly Rana says he’s worried about travelling back to his hometown in Alberta over the holidays.
“I already have my ticket booked for the winter break after my exams are supposed to be done,” said Rana.
“If the strike happens and dates are pushed, I don’t know what to do.”
In an email sent to students on Thursday afternoon, Western administration said they are “hopeful of coming to an agreement before the deadline and of averting a strike.”
The email details what would happen in the event of a strike, including the cancellation of classes, tutorials, tests, and mid-term exams on main campus, with the exception of classes taught by Clinical Faculty who are physicians in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
London Transit buses would also be modifying their routes in order to avoid crossing picket lines and entering onto Western’s main campus.
The email adds that students can follow the negotiations via updates being posted onto the university’s website.