Librarians protest

UWOFA-LA demonstrate to support ongoing negotiations process

Jessica Singer

Songs preaching for solidarity greeted those entering campus yesterday afternoon.

A rally organized by PSAC 610, the Graduate Teaching Assistant and Postdoctoral Associate union, took place yesterday in support of a months-long negotiation process between librarians and archivists, and Western administration.

The UWOFA (The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association) is a union representing around 1,500 faculty members, including 50 librarians and archivists on campus.

The union asked a provincially appointed conciliator to file a “No-Board” Report with the Ministry of Labour on Sept. 16. After presenting them with a package of proposals, the employer refused to accept the package, and remains unwilling to make any reasonable changes.

A “No-Board” request does not mean the negotiations process has ended, and the UWOFA wants to avoid a strike. But this requires building solidarity with students and members of the London community.

“We’re trying to get a fair contract and avoid a strike”, said Kristin Hoffmann, librarian and member of the faculty association’s negotiating team.

“We’ve been meeting with the administration to bargain. We got to a point where we needed to set a strike deadline in order to put more pressure on the administration to get a deal”.

Demonstrators chanted tunes for solidarity, making their presence known in the UCC, on Concrete Beach, and across different libraries on campus.

Hoffmann says this demonstration was a great way to get people’s attention and gain awareness for the campaign, especially amongst students and faculty members who were previously unaware of the issues at hand. 

“It was a morale boost for our librarians and archivists to see that grad students, faculty, and staff on campus support us, and want us to get a fair deal”, said Hoffmann.

There are three main goals the UWOFA-LA is trying to achieve; a fair workload, professional autonomy and governance, and fair compensation and benefits in line with those negotiated with other groups on campus.

The group handed out pamphlets yesterday, stating that Western has $87 million in reserves, but librarians and archivists rank 16th the in the province for compensation.

Additionally, Western has cut the number of librarians by 20% since 2010, even though students rely on their help, services, and support.

Graduate sociology student and president of PSAC 610 Ari Vangeest explained the repercussions from these cuts.

“Right now, I don’t know exactly what the university is offering but it is well below the inflation rate; that’s just not fair”, said Vangeest.

“I’d like to see more librarians hired. We see around the university that there’s cuts, cuts, cuts, but we don’t even know why we’re cutting right now”.

Vangeest explained how librarians and archivists are an essential resource for students at Western; they make it easier for students to find relevant research, and deliver critical services in teaching, scholarship, and career development.

The extra time dedicated to helping students find relevant documents and search for information is crucial to succeeding on Western’s Campus.

The final result the UWOFA hopes for is getting librarians and archivists the respect, and wage increases they deserve.

 

For more information about the UWOFA, member resources, and ways to support, be sure to access the link below.

https://www.uwofa.ca/