On Friday, March 10, more than 100 faculty members at Western University came together for a solidarity lunch hosted by the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association’s contract faculty committee. Supported by OCUFA, the lunch was a unique and creative event that provided an opportunity to build solidarity leading up to bargaining in 2018.
At the event, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) President Ann Bigelow highlighted the misplaced priorities of the Western administration. She asked why their incredibly wealthy employer puts money before people and why the university, which claims to provide the best student experience, puts more effort into evaluating research than supporting teaching.
Bigelow, UWOFA’s first president who is a contract faculty member, pointed out that it takes a minimum of 14 years for a professor in a full-time contract position to earn the right to beg for a limited term appointment – an appointment with no end date. “There so many people like me who have been here a very long time and have demonstrated a commitment to the university,” said Bigelow, “Why won’t the university return that commitment? It’s just not right.”
In acknowledging the challenges ahead, OCUFA President Judy Bates referenced OCUFA’s Countdown to Strong program for faculty associations in bargaining, stating that, “if you organize early, if you are committed to face to face communications and if you come together in collective action, you can overcome these obstacles.”
After a few short speeches, attendees settled in for a delicious lunch and made new friends, as a featured comedian took to the stage. The performance sparked lots of laughter, and brought cheer to those in the room.
The faculty solidarity built at this event will be important in the coming year, and there is a hope that future work will build on the success of this event.
This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.