Hours remain before possible faculty strike at Western University

Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL

Time is running out before a possible faculty strike at Western University.

The union representing roughly 1,650 faculty members will be in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. Friday.

In the event of a walk-out, most classes will be cancelled, LTC buses will not enter campus, and professors will be advised by the union against marking assignments.

First-year student Lucas Swift thinks some might see the strike as an unexpected break from classes, but the reality is much worse.

“If it runs for more than a couple of days, they’re going to have to reorganize the whole schedule and it could end up meaning that all of our exams are more highly weighted, not enough prep time, and not as much class time as we were hoping for,” he said. “I feel like in the long run it’s not going to be good, even though a lot of people are like, ‘oh yay, this going to be a nice break,’ but realistically speaking, it’s probably going to be for the worse.”

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Fourth-year medical science student Rachelle Eldick tells Global News Radio 980 CFPL she’s hoping to avoid any disruptions to her classes and upcoming exams.

“Being in my last year of university, I would rather just get it over with,” she said. “One of my profs talked about how he went on strike at York [University] for three months, and if something like that were to happen, it would mess up a lot of students and graduating, so not knowing how long it’s going to last and how much it’s going to affect us makes us uneasy.”

Major issues in the dispute have been job pay, as well as job security for contract and part-time faculty.

UWOFA President Dan Belliveau noted the deadline is intensifying discussions.

“We are at the point now where the key issues remain the only points of discussion and it’s important that we address those with the administration,” Belliveau said.

Belliveau said both sides have been negotiating every day this week, and they’re committed to supporting their contract faculty.

“We have contract faculty members who need to apply for their positions term by term or perhaps year by year, (and) they get one- or two-year contracts,” he said. “The students deserve better. They deserve to know that their instructors are going to be in the classroom next term, and our faculty members deserve to know that they have some form of stability in their employment.”

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The number of full-time and tenured positions has been on the decline in recent years.

The two sides have been negotiating a collective agreement since June, with the faculty voting 94 per cent in favour of strike action in late September.

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