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University of Western strike 2023

Operating Engineers at the University of Western in London, Ontario went on strike Thursday October 12th at 12:01 a.m. The strike vote was unanimous for the union’s position on Bill 124 compensation and the market rate adjustment.

Operating Engineers at the University of Western were on strike because the university would not pay fair market wages. The university cannot attract or retain engineers given that their wage rates are not competitive. The university had no issue with approving 24-36% increases for senior staff. Meanwhile, there is a crisis underway in Ontario: it’s estimated that by 2026, there will be a shortage of 3000 engineers to operate power plants and boilers. More money than ever is going into the pockets of CEOs while the people we depend on to keep the lights on cannot pay their bills.

In addition to the operating engineers, University Librarians and Archivists have also voted to strike as of 12:01 a.m. on October 4th. The employer refuses to negotiate over the hiring of additional librarians and archivists or even to maintain the existing complement. And like the operating engineers, all they are asking for is fair compensation.

In addition to the 12 engineers, dozens of other university employees and students turned out on days of picketing in solidarity to protest.

One operating engineer was struck by car while picketing, and brought to hospital. A car drove through the picket line at the entrance to campus at Elgin Road and Western Road on Friday morning, hitting three picketers and injuring one of them.

Read media reports here, here, here, and here.

We are happy to report that the operating engineers and the university have reached a tentative agreement as of Monday October 16th. The engineers are looking forward to returning to work and an end to the disruption to campus life. Thank you to all of the students, staff, and people of London for your patience and support during this difficult time!

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