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UWOSA's History

In 1966, some of the technical staff became concerned that, due to the rapid growth of the university and the increase in faculty and students, the welfare of the support staff (as we were then called) was being overlooked. A steering committee was formed to look into the feasibility of forming a staff organization which would speak on behalf of staff. Discussions with the university administrators made it clear that, to be recognized, any organization would have to include most staff within the central campus.

In April 1967, an organizing meeting was held in the Natural Science Auditorium. Those present included technical staff, library staff, as well as secretaries, clerks and storeskeepers. A Board of Directors was elected from the floor and annual dues were set at $2.00. We had no office, no equipment and no payroll deduction for dues. Each year, on January first, board members had to re-enroll all members of the Association, which was very time consuming. The monthly newsletter was cut into a stencil and run off on the Gestettner machine in the Dean of Medicine’s office on a Saturday morning, addressed by hand and delivered the same way.

UWOSA was not welcomed by the Administration. Sometimes it seemed as if life was being made to be as difficult as possible to see if we had the stuff it took to survive. The early Boards of Directors proved that they did, and recognition and respect were slowly awarded to UWOSA. In 1973, we were able to negotiate collection of dues by payroll deduction, which helped to achieve a stable membership. Later, a small room for use as an office was provided for us. We had a secretary for one day a week; then, as we grew to include Physical Plant, Security and other groups, and, because our budget had grown a little, we were able to afford a secretary for two days and also pay for the printing of the newsletter. The membership during the seventies was actively involved in the activities of UWOSA with large turnouts at membership meetings (where they were very vocal) and at the social activities that were held. At that time, it was possible to hold happy hours and wine and cheese parties for very little cash outlay. In fact, we made money for the Association this way.

In 1976, we incorporated. This was done because the amount of money we were handling as a Board was in the thousands of dollars and we wanted to give assurance to our members that their money was in safe hands. As a corporate body, all monies must be accounted for under very stiff Provincial laws, the requirements of which make the Association legally responsible for the money. This provides legal assurance to the membership for the safety of their money and protects directors should the Association ever encounter legal difficulties.

The Association has seen many changes. Where we once represented all of campus, groups have broken away to form Associations or Unions which they felt will better concentrate on their particular concerns. It is noteworthy that all of them took with them the Personnel Policies, and benefit packages which UWOSA had worked so hard to achieve over the years.

During the 1970s, our Association was one of the founding members of the Confederation of University Staff Associations (C.O.U.S.A.) and the charter meeting was held at Western. Being a member of this organization gave us a close relationship with all the other provincial university staff associations. The exchange of knowledge and information between universities was considered a valuable asset to UWOSA. While we have since left the organization, as we and it changed, we are proud of our role in its founding. UWOSA also campaigned for and obtained the right to have staff members sit on the Board of Governors and on the Senate Committee and members of UWOSA were the first staff members throughout the province to serve on both these bodies.

UWOSA continued to grow throughout the 80's. A certification drive in 1987/88 was not successful, the strong support shown throughout the drive did emphasize the serious intention of UWOSA to be a strong contender for employee rights. In 1997 UWOSA had a second certification drive, which was successful. Our first collective agreement, after approximately eighteen months of bargaining, was ratified on September 10, 1999.