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UWOSA is an independent union representing approximately 860 administrative and technical staff at the University of Western Ontario. Our members work in every area of the University in a wide variety of roles. We are Academic Counselling Assistants, Admissions Coordinators, Animal Care Technicians, Booth Attendants, Computer Specialists, Dental Assistants, Drivers, Events Coordinators, Faculty Affairs Assistants, Graduate Coordinators, Horticultural Technicians, Laboratory Supervisors, Library Assistants, OSAP Coordinators, Prospect Researchers, Research Assistants, Residence Clerks, Schedulers, Secretaries, Storeskeepers, Technical Supervisors and Undergraduate Assistants (and so much more).

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

Senate Meeting Protest - Friday April 10

Dear UWOSA members,

UWOSA will be joining other employee and student groups on campus to protest at Friday's Senate meeting.

A planning committee has been formed on campus and has just sent us the following schedule:

11am-12:30pm: everyone gathers in mustang lounge to create placards and posters (with no sticks)

12:30pm-12:45: clean up and leave to meet all groups at Alumni Hall (on the island)

12:50pm: a quick debrief/reminder of what's about to happen and then proceed from Alumni Hall and walk through the gates across the street in one giant mass of protesters to the front doors of New Ivey

1:00pm: arrive at New Ivey front doors and do a short demonstration with short 2 minute speeches from key speakers

1:15pm: remind everyone that the rest of the protest is SILENT and then proceed to line the hallways into the room (right close to the entrance) with people and their placards/posters

1:20-1:25pm: everyone enters the Senate chambers SILENTLY and proceeds to sit in SILENT protest

If you are interested in participating in the protest, please meet us at 11:00 am in the Mustang Lounge. Together, we can make a difference.

In solidarity,
Your UWOSA Executive

Non-Confidence Motion Passes

Members of the University of Western Ontario Staff Association (UWOSA) at Western University passed a motion of non-confidence in university president Amit Chakma and Board of Governors chair Chirag Shah. UWOSA’s non-confidence vote follows a similar vote held by Western’s faculty association last week

The vote, held today at UWOSA’s annual general meeting was in response to the revelation that President Chakma was paid $967,000 last year and is eligible for a similar payment at the end of his current contract in 2019. This comes at a time when student tuition is high and budgets to allocate towards faculty and staff are shrinking.

UWOSA members have expressed their concern over what they see as a fiscally irresponsible contract negotiated between the Board of Governors and Chakma, especially at a time of departmental budget cuts, staff layoffs, reductions in staff hours, and essential positions being left unfilled with the extra work absorbed by the remaining staff. “This continues to have a tremendous impact on our members, who are still doing their best to assist faculty with their scholarly activity, and students with their academic careers,” said Karen Foullong, President of UWOSA. “Our goal is to make the Board of Governors and President Chakma accountable for their actions to date, and going forward, represent Western as a responsible, publically funded university that directs its resources appropriately.”

Prior to the non-confidence vote, UWOSA participated in a press conference with other Western labour unions and students to voice their concerns over the Board of Governors’ fiscal mismanagement and how it has affected the university.

On Friday April 10th, UWOSA will be joining other staff, faculty, student groups and alumni in a non-confidence protest at Western University’s Senate meeting. This meeting will be held in room 1100 of the Ivey Building and is open to the public.

UWOSA represents almost 1,000 front-line staff that provide support to current and future students, faculty, alumni and administration.

Important Message from Your UWOSA Executive

Fellow UWOSA members,

Over the past week, your Executive has been working closely with other
labour and student groups on campus to address not only the immediate
issue of President Chakma's double-salary payment but also the broader
problem of accountability at Western.

On Thursday April 9th we will hold a press conference with other members
of the Western community to share UWOSA's experiences and anger over
recent events. We wish to thank those of you who have already completed
the anonymous online survey, and appeal to those who haven't, to add
your voices. Your personal experiences are crucial to helping the
community understand the context for our outrage over senior management
salaries.

Also on Thursday from 12-2 pm, UWOSA will hold our Annual General
Meeting
where we will vote to declare our non-confidence in the
chair of the Board of Governors, Chirag Shah, and the President, Amit
Chakma. Please attend this important meeting in SSC 2050.

On Friday April 10th, a non-confidence protest will be held at the
Senate meeting scheduled for 1 pm in IVEY 1100. Join the Facebook page
here.

A list of essential FAQs and links are being prepared and will soon be
posted to the Member's Area of the UWOSA website. We hope you will find
these informative.

In solidarity,

Your UWOSA Executive

Boun Thai
Vice President
University of Western Ontario Staff Association

Call for Proposals for Women's Safety Funding

Barbara Potter is the UWOSA representative on the President's Committee on the Safety of Women on Campus.

Following is a message from Barb for all UWOSA members:

Eligible groups on campus may apply to President’s Council on the Safety of Women on Campus for a portion of the funds awarded to Western from MET, which must be used for initiatives to continue improving the safety on campus for women students and workers through support for programs dealing with women’s safety, sexual harassment, and violence against women.

This funding can continue current activities, off-shoots of these, or new initiatives that ensure women’s safety issues continue to be addressed in the future.

For the 2013/14 school year, $50,814 was awarded to fund 9 projects that fit the criteria. Please see the PCSWC website for more information on how to apply and eligibility.
http://www.uwo.ca/hr/safety/wellness/women/index.html

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