Windsor Star

U of W students brace for strike

Faculty contract expired June 30

- STAR STAFF REPORTER Centre to remain open

BY SONJA PUZIC

If negotiatio­ns between the University of Windsor and its faculty associatio­n fail to avert a looming strike, the result will be “mayhem” for students, the president of the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance said Monday.

“Even if (the strike) is only for a brief period of time, it will still throw us off track,” Tiffany Gooch said. “It’s really unfortunat­e that students are caught in the crossfire.”

The Windsor University Faculty Associatio­n is set to go on strike at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday if an agreement is not reached. University professor and WUFA president Brian Brown said Monday talks are ongoing and the union hopes to have a resolution before the strike deadline.

The university and the associatio­n’s bargaining team have been assisted by a provincial­ly appointed mediator during the past week of negotiatio­ns as they’ve tried to hammer out a new deal for approximat­ely 1,000 faculty members, including librarians, sessional instructor­s and ancillary staff. Their contract expired June 30. While neither side is discussing specific contract issues publicly, Brown has said a major concern is that the university wants to increase faculty workload.

The university’s salary standard, which calls for the average faculty salary to match the average faculty pay among Ontario’s 15 universiti­es, is also an issue.

WUFA last held a strike vote in 1982, leading to a six-day strike.

Gooch said students’ alliance supports the faculty but its members are “really upset” that their academic careers are now in jeopardy.

“We want professors to get a fair contract,” Gooch said.

“We want them to maintain the quality of education and programs here.

“But if there is a strike ... there are just so many side-effects for students. Obviously, no one wants their education pushed back.”

Gooch said she still hasn’t been given clear answers on whether refunds would be available to students if the strike is prolonged and how the students who are preparing to graduate this year will be affected.

“We’re definitely committed to keeping our services running in case of a strike, so the students’ centre will remain open, the bookstore will be operating and we’ll be here for the students,” Gooch said.

The students’ alliance will hold an emergency council meeting tonight at 8 p.m. to discuss a plan of action if faculty members walk off the job at midnight.

“And I’m hoping that during that meeting I will get a call saying the strike has been cancelled,” Gooch said.

Updates on the labour negotiatio­ns will be posted on the university’s website, www.uwindsor.ca and the faculty associatio­n’s web page, www.uwindsor.ca/wufa.

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