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UWO cops rally as clock ticks down to strike deadline

London – The Campus Community Police Service at Western University rallied Friday in a strong show of solidarity a week before a possible work stoppage. The event drew support from the university’s staff and faculty associations, as well as London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong.

The 10-member campus police service, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), has been without a contract since June 30, 2015. Members are seeking improvements in safety and training, as well as wage parity with other campus police services. Third-party mediation is scheduled for this Thursday and Friday, with a strike or lockout looming as soon as Saturday at 12:01 a.m.

The union says the employer has refused to bargain in good faith, requesting conciliation before bargaining even began.

“Western took an aggressive approach to bargaining from the beginning,” said OPSEU Local 102 president Julie McGuffin. “Most recently, the employer requested a no-board report from the Ministry of Labour so they could potentially lock out our members.

“It’s very hard to bargain with a brick wall. Nevertheless, the union remains committed to negotiating a fair collective agreement.”

McGuffin took issue with a media report quoting a university official as saying the province determines whether campus police can use lights and sirens off-campus.

“This is misinformation,” McGuffin insisted. “It’s the university that decides whether we can reach off-campus residences faster by using lights and sirens. And they’ve said no.

“We need that ability to better ensure the security of those student residents. I can’t understand why the administration would put up roadblocks to safety.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas characterized the employer’s disrespect for the bargaining process as reprehensible. “What we have here is a small police service that’s been given a huge job: keeping 60,000 staff, students and guests spread out over a vast and complex campus out of harm’s way. And they do their job extremely well.

“All they’re asking for is the tools and training to do their work to the best of their ability, as well as compensation that compares to other campus police services,” he continued. “Their demands are reasonable but the employer is being completely unreasonable. After a year without a contract, it’s time Western climbed down off its high horse and engaged in collective bargaining.”

For more information: Julie McGuffin, 519-859-9102