Strike action authorized by University of Manitoba faculty

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Written by Darren Bernhardt – CBC – Posted October 19, 2021 7:41am CT

UMFA says low salaries keep university from retaining talent, which impacts students’ quality of education.

University of Manitoba faculty are in a strike position after 85 per cent voted over the past three days to authorize that action.

Although the vote — 920 in favour, 168 opposed — backs it, a strike at Manitoba’s largest university has not been called yet.

“It is clear that negotiations cannot continue until the administration pushes back against a government that continues to intrude in the bargaining process,” Orvie Dingwall, U of M Faculty Association president, said in a news release early Tuesday.

Recruitment and retention issues have plagued the university as the administration has imposed government-mandated wage freezes and below-inflation increases, which have contributed to employees leaving the university and candidates rejecting offers of employment, the release says.

Last week, the faculty association said at a news conference that the university is hemorrhaging talent due to low salaries. The U of M average salary for faculty is second lowest among Canada’s 15 research-based universities.

The union wants salaries more in line with the other universities in that group and a “more equitable hiring, tenure and promotion processes.”

The U of M had offered a three-year deal, with salary increases of 0.75 per cent, 0.75 per cent and one per cent, starting this year. 

On Oct. 13, it made a new offer of a four-year deal, with salary increases of one per cent in the first and second years, and 1.25 per cent in the third and fourth years.

The faculty association collective agreement committee is asking for an increase of 2.75 per cent in each of the next two years.

The improvements requested by the UMFA will mitigate recruitment and retention issues that affect the quality of education for students at the university, the union said in its release on Tuesday morning.

The faculty association, which represents over 1,200 professors, instructors and librarians, has been in negotiations with administration since August, and without a collective agreement since April.  

“Today’s results demonstrate that UMFA members will no longer accept being undervalued by their employer,” Dingwall said in the release.

During the three-day strike vote, which began on Saturday, 1,088 of the 1,265 eligible voting members cast a ballot.

The U of M has nearly 30,000 full- and part-time students.

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