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University of Windsor President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Alan Wildeman, Responds to WUFA Letter Regarding Collective Bargaining, July 20, 2017

Published on: Tue, 08/01/2017
Last Modified: Tue, 08/01/2017 - 12:04pm


July 20, 2017

 

Jeff Noonan 
President, WUFA 
 
Dear Jeff, 
 
On July 19th you and Stephen Pender, accompanied by a WUFA staff person, delivered 236 letters signed by WUFA members to the reception desk at Assumption Hall.  I understand that you used this as a ceremonial photo-op.  Had I been there, I would have gladly let you photograph me, alongside you and Stephen, and would have sportingly worn the WUFA T-shirt you gave me.  It would have been a picture to keep, but in truth I am not sure how the photo-op advances the desire of the parties to get a collective agreement. 
 
On the matter of your letter to me that accompanied the petitions, let me say in no uncertain terms that I, along with all members of the administration’s bargaining team, share this urgency.  It has always been our goal to get a deal done in a timely manner.  Let me make several points in response to your letter and the petition. 
 
First, the petition describes a fair agreement as one that “respects, supports, and compensates our members”.  I have always said that we want collective agreements that are fair to members, but I have always added that these agreements must also be responsible. 
 
Second, more progress has been made than your communications to your members suggest.  There are a number of points on which the bargaining teams have worked well together, and reached agreement and signed off. 
 
Third, WUFA’s negotiating team has nevertheless not exhibited the urgency that you profess.  The administration’s bargaining team suggested that the parties jointly request that a conciliator be brought in to help move the process along.  WUFA declined to make the request with us, feeling it was premature to get help (a feeling the administration’s bargaining team did not share) and so the administration informed your bargaining team that it would make the request unilaterally.  This request for conciliation was made after twelve days of bargaining, which normally should have been more than enough to move things further along than they were.  Your bargaining team then promptly cancelled five days of negotiations that had been scheduled in July. 
These were five days in July that could have been put to good use, perhaps concluding an agreement. 
 
Fourth, it is inexplicable why the prospect of a conciliator would have been so unsettling to your bargaining team, given that conciliation is a normal responsible part of bargaining. 
 
Fifth, in your letter you suggest that WUFA’s proposals do not include radical departures.  This is not correct.  
As case in point, WUFA has proposed changes to Article 3, an Article that states that members of the Board of Governors are excluded from the bargaining unit, and changes to Article 50, such that Senate would in future be bound to exercise its authorities in a manner consistent with the collective agreement.  You make the comment in your letter to me suggesting that your proposals are not “radical departures”.  WUFA’s proposals on governance-related changes are in fact a radical departure from what is normative in university bargaining across the country. For a number of reasons too complex to go into in this letter, these changes are legally inconsistent with bicameral governance and the Labour Relations Act.  Our bargaining team cannot negotiate changes to the collective agreement that will see the agreement now have the power to sway or alter the authorities of the governing bodies as established under the University of Windsor Act. 
 
Sixth, the administration’s team looks forward to discussing the money and other non-monetary issues, and seeking the common ground and compromises that will result in a collective agreement that is respectful, supportive, fair in its compensation, and responsible. There are two days of bargaining scheduled next week with the conciliator, on July 25th and 26th.  If those are not sufficient to finalize a collective agreement, I trust that your bargaining team will do all it can to make itself available immediately after July 26th so that we can get this deal done.  If it appears that conciliation will be unsuccessful, I would like to make a proposal that the parties try an additional method to get a deal.  The administration is willing to have the two parties utilize the services of a neutral and experienced mediator, Bill Kaplan, to sit with our bargaining teams and ensure we get a timely deal. 
 
I look forward to your response to this proposal by early next week.  There is no reason that with conciliation, and the option of mediation, we cannot successfully conclude bargaining in a timely manner.  I assure you that the administration’s team will be as flexible as it can be within the parameters of being fair and being responsible.  I do want you and your members to be assured that I have taken the petition seriously.  I know that people want to come back to campus in September without tension and apprehension.   
 
Sincerely, 
 
 
Alan Wildeman 
President and Vice-Chancellor 
 
c. Rita LaCivita, VP Human Resources