Sector 9-Universities

UWO police rally as strike deadline looms

Members of the University of Western Ontario’s Campus Community Police Service will rally on Friday, May 13 at 8:45 a.m. at the gates to the university on Western Road at the corner of Lambton Drive near the entrance to Alumni Hall.

The members, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), have been without a contract since June 30, 2015 – almost one year ago.

The employer has refused to bargain in good faith with the police service. In fact, the employer requested conciliation before bargaining even began. Third-party mediation is scheduled for May 19 and 20, with a walkout or lockout possible as early as May 21 at 12:01 a.m.

The members are looking for improvements in a number of areas:

  • Training: Constables are called upon to take calls in the 911 centre but, incredibly, they have received no training in taking 911 calls. This is a catastrophe in the making.
  • Safety: In the last year, two people have been killed by drunk drivers, but management has taken no action to prevent further casualties. Management has directed that there be fewer officers in cars – thereby reducing their ability to combat drunk driving. Just one officer is now assigned to patrol the entire campus on statutory holidays. Management has also placed restrictions on constables that hamper their ability to ensure the university remains a safe place to study, work and live. For example, they cannot use lights or sirens to off-campus residences for which they are responsible.
  • Wages: Officers are seeking parity with other university police services, such the University of Guelph’s campus police, where officers earn $7 an hour more.

OPSEU Local 102 president Julie McGuffin said she was extremely disappointed by the approach Western was taking towards bargaining, particularly in filing a no board report.

“Our members are absolutely dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of students, staff and visitors to Western,” she said. “The employer’s callous attitude shows an utter lack of respect both for the work of these officers, as well as the bargaining process.

“Nevertheless, OPSEU remains committed to negotiating a fair collective agreement.”

The Campus Community Police Service is the only Canadian university service accredited by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Agencies. Just 10 special constables patrol a very large number of buildings – frequently difficult to locate – over a huge area that includes two campus hotels and three daycare centres. Some 40,000 to 60,000 persons are on the campus daily. In addition to Western’s campus, the constables also police Brescia, Huron and King’s University colleges.