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Windsor Star

Wed Oct 9 2013

Byline: Grace Macaluso

Source: The Windsor Star

As the University of Windsor signed off on a three-year tentative agreement Tuesday with CUPE 1393, it faced another simmering dispute, this time with students demanding financial compensation for services disrupted during the monthlong strike by almost 300 skilled trades and professional staff.

“A lot of students are asking for their money back,” said Robert Crawford, president of the Students’ Alliance. “A lot of basic services – academic counselling, disability services, weren’t available. The St. Denis fitness centre and pool have been closed.”

Crawford said although sorting out financial compensation could be complicated, “there is a strong demand for students receiving refunds.”

In the case of the St. Denis Centre, students must pay a mandatory fee of about $90 per semester, he noted.

Alan Wildeman, university president, said he was willing to look at “some enhancement of services in areas where there were none.”

For example, the university would consider “enhancing” students’ access to such facilities as the St. Denis Centre. “We have not yet decided; we want to do a good assessment on the strike’s impact.”

Dean Roy, president of CUPE 1393, said he supported the alliance’s call for financial compensation. “Our estimate is for every week we were off, the university saved about $500,000. That’s just our payroll,” Roy said. “Beyond that, students were not getting services they paid for. The facilities in human kinetics were shut down; the fitness centre, the pool were closed, and all of our student advisers were out on the street. So, they’re not getting all the services they paid for all along.”

When asked whether the union should also offer students financial compensation, Roy said “all of the cost savings (from the dispute) went straight to the university.”

He stressed that his members “will be working every possible minute that they can to do what’s right for the students.”

The university and union reached a tentative deal at around midnight following four days of marathon talks. The 282 members of Local 1393 have been off the job since Sept. 8, after the initial round of talks broke off over the outstanding issues of pay equity and bumping rights. Details of the agreement will be released at a ratification vote today at 1 p, m. at the Caboto Club.

Roy said the bargaining committee is recommending acceptance. “Obviously, I’m thrilled we reached a deal,” Roy said. “It’s been a long run – four straight days. We signed off on the deal at 11:58 p.m.”

Wildeman said he was looking forward to seeing the university return to normal.

“The bargaining was taken very seriously by both sides and I’m glad we were able to reach a tentative agreement that will get people back to work and the campus back to normal, pending ratification of the deal,” he said.

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