Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Western Labour Update

I feel I would be remiss, on the eve of my first day of class, not to mention the labour dispute that is occurring on campus.  I received an e-mail from the university today stating the Librarians and Archivists would commence strike action on Thursday, September 8th.  Apparently, the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) and UWO have been having contract discussions since April, but have been unable to reach a resolution that is acceptable for both sides.

Honestly, I know very little about the dispute aside from what the UWO website tells me.  They have done a good job keeping students informed, and letting us know how the strike will influence our first day.  Classes will commence as scheduled and most of the library services will be available.  However, the city buses will not cross picket lines, so there will be a few detours in that service.

This is not the first time I have started aschool year at university with a strike.  Faculty at Eastern Michigan University went on strike at the beginning of the 2006 fall semester.  I was actually a bit surprised at the time how little that interfered with my class schedule.  Half of the courses I had were taught by adjuncts, which was actually one of the complaints of the professors in the union.  That conflict was resolved within a couple of weeks, although I know the faculty has gone on strike again since.

It will be interesting to see how this situation is resolved.  It hits a bit nearer to home this time as public history is closely related to library science.  In fact, my course that meets for the first time tomorrow night is Understanding Archives.  I have little union experience, having never been in one myself, and my lack of knowledge of the specifics of the dispute causes me to reserve judgement.  I just hope a solution that pleases both sides will be found swiftly and peacefully.

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