Administrators at the University of Windsor have taken a heavy-handed, provocative approach to negotiations with the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA). As well as damaging its relationship with professors and academic librarians, the admin’s actions are a dangerous distraction from the important work of negotiating a fair agreement.
As previously reported in OCUFA Report, the University of Windsor administration unilaterally requested a “no-board” report, despite continued negotiations with WUFA. This put the university admin in a legal lockout position as of July 3, 2014. WUFA did not take a strike vote, choosing instead to proceed with ongoing negotiations. The admin did not lock out faculty on July 3rd, but instead sent a highly inflammatory letter to WUFA members, threatening the cessation of pension payments, benefits, arbitration and grievance processes, and the collection of union dues if an agreement was not reached by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, July 7th.
This aggressive tactic was met with condemnation from faculty associations in Ontario and across Canada. Faced with the mobilization of WUFA members and supporters, the admin backed away from their threat. Bargaining is scheduled to continue.
The most important thing for both WUFA and the university admin is the negotiation of a new collective agreement. The use of aggressive and threatening tactics is an obstacle to this essential work, and not a productive way forward. The admin may have thought they were stealing a march on WUFA, when they were in fact making negotiations far more difficult than necessary. Hopefully, the admin has learned a lesson and will re-focus their efforts on bargaining.