Western librarians and archivists voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike mandate during their negotiations with faculty relations.
The vote, held on October 22, gives the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association the ability to call a strike should negotiations reach that point.
“At this point the strike vote really is just a show of support and unity among the membership,” Kirstin Hoffman, UWOFA president, said.
Helen Connell, associate vice-president of communications at Western, said that strike mandate votes are common in negotiations.
“Clearly they would like to put some additional pressure on the administration side, but it’s a very common thing to do as part of negotiations,” she said. “Western is committed to doing everything we can to reach an agreement.”
According to Hoffman, the negotiations have been collegial since beginning in June and both parties are optimistic that they will continue positively.
“We’re still working to get a good agreement with the employer and we’re hopeful that we can get a good agreement without anything else.”
Some of the main issues up for negotiation include compensation and job security.
“Compensation is a focus, but also with the restructuring and other issues [we’re] just making sure that our processes are working well for all of our members, so fine-tuning aspects of the agreement,” Hoffman explained.
Neither Connell nor Hoffman could go into further detail on the specifics of the agreements.
“A tentative agreement has been reached on a number of issues, but there’s still some issues left that need to be determined,” Connell said.
Both Connell and Hoffman stated that an ideal outcome for both parties involves an agreement that works for the two sides.
“Our members do really good work on behalf of the university community, especially in support of the teaching and research at the university, and we want to be able to keep doing that work and get back to work with a good collective agreement,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman explained there are 50 members involved in the bargaining unit with five librarian members as well as some faculty members on the negotiating team.