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Windsor University Strike: Details

As noted yesterday, the professors at the U. of Windsor have taken to the picked lines, effectively shutting down the university.  The union seems well prepared for this strike.  Professors will be paid a very high strike pay of $530 per week, in exchange for walking the picket line 5 days per week.  This will make surviving a long strike somewhat more manageable for the strikers.

There are some serious issues in dispute, which might also suggest that this strike might last a while.  The university is trying to find ways to pay professors less.  One way it wants to do that is by interesting a new job category called ‘Instructor”, which would be people hired only to teach (not to research), and then pay them less than regular faculty.  York has been using this arrangement for some time.

The other attack on faculty salaries involves attacking the “Windsor Salary Standard” model that has been in place for over 20 years.  Under the model, the university is required to analyze professor salaries at every rank at 15 universities in Ontario.  The average salary for each rank is calculated and then compared to the same rank at Windsor.  If the average salary from the other universities is higher than that at Windsor, then every professor in that rank at Windsor gets a raise equal to the amount of the difference between the average from the other universities and the average for the rank at WIndsor. This has allowed WIndsor faculty to keep up with average rates across the province, and had led to many raises over the years without which WIndsor would have fallen behind.

The University wants undercut this process by (1) including more than 15 other institutions, including many newer ‘universities’ and ‘college universities’ where professor salaries are lower, and (2) by changing the process so that only professors at WIndsor receiving lower than the average salary of the other institutions get a raise.

Obviously, the professors are not happy with these proposals as it will almost certainly lead to lower salaries down the road.  The university is also taking a risk by this sort of approach.  Insofar as Windsor begins to fall behind other universities in Canada (and abroad), it will have a difficult time retaining top academic talent.  I suspect this Salary Standard has reduced the incentive for some top profs to jump ship and, for example, move larger universities and bigger, more happening cities (no offense, Windsor residents, but Windsor is not exactly booming these days).  If wages begin to drop at Windsor, expect a slow (or fast) exodus of top talent to U of T, McGill, or dare I say, York….


One Response to Windsor University Strike: Details

  1. Windsor alumnae Reply

    September 29, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I am a Windsor alumnae, something that I try and not tell too many people. Lets be honest: any professorial talent at Windsor does not last there long. The university campus looks like an abandoned auto plant. The faculty are shopworn. The fact that they are striking tells you all you need to know about their mentality. The university administration should not give in to these bunch of pampered, overindulged and underworked profs.

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