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Announcement: UWOSA Presidency

Dear UWOSA members,

I am writing to let you know that I have been offered a position in the Faculty of Social Science which, after careful consideration, I have decided to accept. Accordingly, I am resigning the office of President of UWOSA effective May 1, 2015.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work here in the UWOSA office for the last three years with our dedicated Stewards, Executive, and committee members, on behalf of all UWOSA members. I will continue to serve UWOSA as Past President in an advisory capacity at Stewards Council and Executive meetings, in order to provide continuity.

In accordance with our Constitution, Vice President Boun Thai shall become President of UWOSA on May 1, 2015. An appointment for the vacant position of Vice President will be held at our Stewards Council meeting on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 12:00pm in Social Science room 9420.

If you are interested in the Vice President position, please put forward your intention and a brief bio to UWOSA's Business Manager, Mary Hay before May 13 at 9:00am. Please plan to attend the meeting on May 20 to give a short (5 minutes maximum) presentation on your candidacy for the role before the members of Stewards Council vote.


Karen Foullong
University of Western Ontario Staff Association (UWOSA)
University Community Centre (UCC) room 255
London, Ontario N6A 3K7

Phone: 519-661-2111 ext. 85041


Questions for Town Hall Meetings

Dear UWOSA members

As you know, President Chakma will be conducting a series of town hall meetings across the campus with staff, faculty and students. He has promised to engage us and to listen to our concerns.

In preparing for these town hall meetings we thought it would be helpful to present to you some of the information that came forth during our recent survey. There are so many topics that were brought to light through your responses, however, some common threads did emerge. Hopefully this list of sample questions will get you thinking about what topics concern you and help formulate questions to ask Dr. Chakma when you meet with him. We would also invite you to share what you learn at these meetings with the UWOSA Executive Team, so that we can move forward with as much information as possible.

- In our department, budget cutbacks have meant that we are now ___ [rationing chalk to professors, only having garbage emptied once every two weeks, no longer having annual team-building events, using office chairs that are falling apart, still saving items to floppy disks, have had to give up our lunch room to make way for more graduate student offices, have no blinds or curtains for windows, have not had the windows cleaned or walls painted in over five years] ___. Will that change in the future? What can you do to initiate this change?
- [Undergraduate] enrollment in our department has increased by [300] students in the last [three] years and yet no additional people have been hired to assist with their needs. Why was there no talk of hiring increased staff when there was talk about enrolling more students?
- The upgrades to equipment in our area have been near non-existent. Do you have any plans to provide additional financial support to our area for ___ [upgrading computers, printers, photocopiers, office supplies] ___

- I have worked at Western for __[10]__ years. During that time, inflation has gone up significantly more than the pay raises we get from year-to-year; my rent increase is more each year than my pay increase; the money that I earn can no longer go as far as it used to. What are your long-term plans with respect to salary increases for Western’s front-line staff?
- We understand that there have been on-going pay equity negotiations for several years now. What is your understanding of the delays in resolving equal pay for the equal work done by both women and men?

Work Load & Morale
- In my area, I have noticed an increase in the stress levels due to many factors, one of which was a series of layoffs in 2009. On top of the layoffs, we have also had people retire whose positions have not been filled. Every person I can think of is doing considerably more work than they were doing in 2009 and it feels as though we are working on a skeleton staff. Are there plans to bring staffing levels back up to an adequate level where we can provide support to our area without feeling burnt out at the end of the day?
- The increased workload and decreased budget in my area has resulted in a large decrease in morale and an increase in stress. What ideas and plans do you have to work towards an increased morale for workers?
- I understand that under your leadership, we have achieved one of the highest student retention rates and graduation rates in Canada, as well as a 94% employment rate within two-years after graduation, however, it is not my understanding that the same can be said for faculty and staff. What plans do you have to make Western a better place to work?
- I feel as though I can relate a bit better to you after the events of the last few weeks. You’ve had the opportunity to experience what it is like to live in a fear that you may lose your job. For reasons beyond my control, I have experienced the same feelings for the last __ [six] ___ years. This really weighs on people and I am wondering if you have plans to address this reason for low morale in many workers here at Western.
- We spent a lot of time a couple of months ago completing the We Speak survey. What follow up has their been or will their be from your office about the concerns those results raised?

Results of April 17 Special Senate Meeting

Dear UWOSA members,

At today’s special meeting of Western’s Senate, the votes of non-confidence in both President Chakma and the Chair of the Board of Governors, Chirag Shah, did not pass. UWOSA is disappointed that the majority of University Senate members appear to support the governing policy of this institution. Given the news we have heard over the past few weeks, we had hoped that the Senate would have recognized an opportunity to influence a substantial change in Western’s priorities and governing policies.

Nevertheless, our work is not done. UWOSA hopes that Dr. Chakma was sincere in his message of taking "concrete steps to engage our staff, and employee group leaders, whose work is so critical to the success of our academic enterprise." We were sincere in our open letter that we look forward to our conversation with Dr. Chakma to change Western for the better.

Yours sincerely,
The UWOSA Executive Committee

Special Senate Meeting and Equal Pay Day

Senate Meeting for Non-Confidence Motion

The Special Senate Meeting to hold the Non-Confidence Motion will be held on Friday, April 17 at 1:30pm at the new Richard Ivey School of Business, Room 1100 (1255 Western Road). UWOSA has asked the Senators representing staff (Deb Coward and Catherine Wilkins) to present the motion of non-confidence that was passed at our Annual General Meeting on April 9. Although non-senators are not permitted to speak at Senate meetings, they are open to the Western community to attend.

Equal Pay Day

For years now, UWOSA has been working toward achieving Pay Equity for our bargaining unit. For more information about UWOSA’s efforts to achieve Pay Equity, please check out the “Pay Equity and UWOSA Members” section of our website.

Equal Pay Day illustrates how far into the next year a woman, on average, must work to earn the same amount made by a man the previous year. The US, Europe and other countries have proclaimed Equal Pay Days with activities and events to raise awareness about the gender pay gap and to ignite action to close it. Supporters wear red on Equal Pay Day to mark how far women are “in the red” when it comes to their pay. Ontario’s Equal Pay Coalition and the Ontario government has declared that Equal Pay Day this year will fall on April 20th, 2015. UWOSA will be joining members of the Pay Equity Coalition outside Covent Garden Market at Richmond & Talbot Streets on Monday, April 20 at 12:00pm. You are welcome to join us!

Karen Foullong

UWOSA's Response to Chakma Apology

Dear Dr. Chakma,

Thank you for your public apology for accepting payment in lieu of administrative leave and also for the repayment to Western. We know that you have done this with the best interests of the university in mind. That being said, your negotiated contract is not the real problem but merely a very blatant symptom of the real problems: an out of touch senior leadership and a misguided financial model. You have said that you are open to all ideas and that you want to hear from us. The Executive Committee of the University of Western Ontario Staff Association on behalf of its members appreciates this opportunity to address some of the points you made in your recent address to Western’s Senate.

You have said that the issues are not only about your pay but also about the way Western has been run under your leadership. The issue is not isolated to you alone. It is the current model, based on a business, rather than a publically-funded higher education institution. Over the past several years, faculties and service units across this campus have been forced to tighten budgets by 3%. Department heads are forced to decrease staff through retirement incentives, leave staff positions vacant, redistribute workload to remaining staff, and lay off. Contract staff and faculty outside of bargaining agreements are hired to fill the gaps. Education programs are compelled to increase student enrollment. The cost of a quality education and the “best student experience” have taken a toll on the staff, faculty, and students at Western, all to increase profits. The Board of Governors, and the absent Chancellor were put in place to check the finances, but their misallocation of public monies has thrown this entire university out of balance.

You have said that the issues raised in regards to your contract have, “brought into stark reality that the Board, the Senate and our broader campus community do not have a shared understanding of the most constructive ways to conduct the business of the academy.” You are right. We agree that there is not a shared understanding. The broader campus community largely has an opposing view of how to operate a publicly-funded institution of higher education. Run this publically-funded university as a publically-funded university, not like a privately-funded university or worse, as a private corporation.

You have said that we must identify the real problems that keep the Board of Governors and Senate in silos and that, “we must find real solutions for breaking down those walls, while preserving the unique role each plays in guiding our institution.” The Senate is transparent; the Board of Governors is opaque. Perhaps the Board of Governors could learn from Senate and its proceedings be transparent. The Board’s indifference to your contract forces us to ask why, (as has been reported in the press) did Board of Governors members misunderstand the wording of your negotiated contract, and why was it approved as written?

You have said that the spotlight on your salary and administrative leave “has also started a critical conversation about how universities attract and retain leadership talent, and the broader fiscal realities facing higher education in our province,” which is why you have endorsed the independent and impartial review of your contract. Our issue is not about recruitment and retention of senior leadership. Our issue is about a broken operational model, based on a business model. Our issue is the treatment of people (staff and faculty) as overhead, rather than the intellectual resources that support the university’s overall mission. Our issue is the treatment of students as easy revenue streams instead of our future provincial and national leaders. Our issue is wasting more money to conduct an independent review of a contract that was legally bound as written. A legal contract, yes, a fiscally responsible one, no. Perhaps it would be more beneficial to conduct an independent and impartial review of the university’s current operational budget and current allocations?

You have expressed how difficult the last two weeks have been for you and your family. As staff, we can appreciate how hard the criticism must have been and we are genuinely sorry to hear about the personal attacks. In light of this, we ask you and the Board of Governors to appreciate the current difficulties of our staff members and their families who were recently laid off due to budget reductions. We ask you to appreciate the increased stress of current staff, anxious that their current positions will be eliminated. We ask you to understand how difficult it is for current staff to produce quality service to faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students with increased workloads due to staff reductions.

We truly appreciate that you are pledging to dedicate your attention to internal matters at Western and we appreciate that you are going to engage and consult with the broader campus community. We look forward to seeing a concrete version of this plan as well as a report on your findings. The non-confidence votes of our UWOSA members, as well as UWOFA demonstrate that we are deeply concerned about Western’s senior leadership and how it is managing this university. We are dedicated to changing Western for the better. We support the university’s mission and ask that you, the Board of Governors, and the senior leadership team demonstrates that same support by investing in students, investing in teaching, investing in research and scholarship and investing in staff and faculty. You have promised to hear us. We look forward to that conversation.

Thank you again for your apology, and we hope to hear the Board of Governors’ apology soon.

Yours sincerely,

The UWOSA Executive Committee

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