Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Day 14 - update 26

The most important WUFA strike update yet:

Wednesday morning, October 1, 2008
Negotiators back at bargaining table: Greg Long, the provincially-appointed mediator in the collective bargaining negotiations between the University of Windsor and the Windsor University Faculty Association, released the following statement last night:

"Subsequent to the parties having reviewed their respective positions with the mediator, the mediator has today called the parties back to the bargaining table and negotiations are ongoing."


The Windsor Star continues its coverage of the latest developments, most of which revolve around the students at the University of Windsor these days. In 'Students grill Wildeman,' Don Lajoie reports that some students still aren't getting the answers they wanted even after meeting with the administration.

In the last two days, University of Windsor president Dr. Alan Wildeman has met with student leaders and students at large to address their questions regarding the strike and how it will impact their studies this semester.

Some of the questions haven't been answered, and I'll try and clarify some of the material.

Please click here for more answers.
"My big concern is what happens to tuition and we didn't get answers. We've already missed (two) weeks and we won't get that time back. I've paid for something I'm not getting."
Lisa Hill, a third-year criminology student 
Short answer: you're not getting your money back. 

Long answer: Both the faculty and the administration are saying two things that should answer this question for you. First, they continuously quote that no Ontario university has ever lost a semester to a strike. The second is, they will make sure that you receive the full value for your semester and get you the credits you deserve. To disambiguate, this means they're not giving you back your money - because you will, in the end, get what you paid for. You're just not getting it as scheduled. 

"[T]here have been no talks between the administration and the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) for two weeks. She said that if extra classes are tacked on at the end of the year, she'd be in financial trouble."

"I came from Toronto. I know 10 people who came for this. We all signed an eight-month lease. Now we might be spending money for rent, food and gas we didn't budget for. I'm supposed to have a classroom placement in two weeks and haven't learned anything. It's a stupid waste of time. Why is he talking to us?"

- Anony-source, first year education

I think the question here is: will the semester be extended? This question is being asked in many forms, including: will we go to school on weekends? Will we go to school during the counselling week? Will we go to school late into December? Will we go to school in January (extended semester)? etc.

Short answer: They don't know.

Long answer: A back-to-work protocol will have to be established, and in it, professors and their deans will design the adjusted curriculum. It is very realistic that each of your classes and labs will have their syllabi changed. That being said, each professor will have to restrategize how they intend to provide the instruction required for their course. This is all contingent upon how much time is lost, and that is a question that can't be answered yet. 

Simply, until they know how much time they have to make up for, they cannot establish an answer to this question. 
Some people are asking why, if both sides want to return to the bargaining table, are they not at the table? 
Short answer: the mediator hasn't brought them back to the table yet.

Long answer: The two sides aren't actually phoning one another to say that they're ready to return to the negotiations, but rather the appointed mediator, Greg Long from the Ministry of Labour, meets with each side to evaluate whether he believes bringing them back to the table is worthwhile. He reviews proposals, counter-proposals and the wishes of each side and then decides whether or not they are close enough to a deal that they should resume negotiations. To this point, Long has said:
The mediator may call the parties back to bargaining if there is, in his assessment, a reasonable prospect for a resolution of the dispute. The mediator will have no further public comment on negotiations at this time.
So, you can see that this is the process through which they must negotiate. Hopefully this is more clear - I think we were all a bit put off when we were being told by both sides that they were trying to get back to the table, but weren't going back. Well, this explains the situation a bit better.
Are my assignments due when we go back to class?
Short answer: If classes are cancelled, then the assignments are cancelled.

Long answer: You ought to be working on your assignments during the strike, but it is not due until after the strike is over. Be prepared for that. The deans are going to work to minimize the impact on students in their first days back to class. So, technically, yes - all assignments should be due, but it would be an awfully inflexible professor who would collect them. Deadlines and due dates will be considered during the development of the back-to-work protocol, which cannot be done until a conditional agreement is met. [Edit 1 p.m.]
How long after a conditional agreement is reached will classes be back on? 
Short answer: At the very least, 48 hours. Probably longer.

Long answer: There is a 48-hour period after a deal is reached in principle that the striking body will take to have its membership ratify the results. This is the union's way to approve of the contract. Negotiators have to take an agreement from the negotiating table and then pitch it to the members, who then vote on whether they will agree to work under those circumstances or not. During that ratification period would be when the back-to-work protocol (and answers to many of these questions) will be hammered out. So, it would take at least 48 hours after a deal is met in principle. 


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