Winnipeg, MB – On Thursday, November 5, the University of Manitoba bargaining team and the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) returned to the bargaining table for the first time since UMFA’s vote to strike – discussing mediation and a strike deadline.
At this meeting, the UM bargaining team proposed that a third-party mediator be appointed to assist with negotiations and UMFA agreed. At this same meeting, UMFA announced a firm strike deadline of Saturday, November 14, 2020 by 11:59 PM. This deadline sets the earliest time that UMFA will be able to take job action as Monday, November 16, 2020, providing a 48 hour notice for the University community.
UMSU continues to engage with University leadership to devise a strategy to safe-guard students from academic consequences. These conversations will strongly prioritize the student right to not cross picket lines of job action, an automatic authorized withdrawal, and tuition considerations. UMSU will keep the student body informed and release updates on the UMSU advocacy team’s progress as information becomes available.
Said UMSU President, Jelynn Dela Cruz: “While we urge the University and UMFA to work towards a middle ground, we are also aware that there are plenty of other pressures influencing the direction of their bargaining process.”
The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) remains firm in its demands for binding arbitration, in order to eradicate the potential for academic disruption during remote learning and COVID-19. UMSU will also be engaging the wider community in organized advocacy efforts, directing the attention towards the provincial government.
Added VP Advocacy Kristin Smith, “moving forward in a spirit of flexibility is not an affront to Manitobans in the COVID-19 era, but leaving instructors with no option but to go on strike is. We urge the Government of Manitoba to give our University the tools it needs to negotiate, and ease the 0% mandate.”
In 2016, the provincial government interfered with UMFA’s collective bargaining through the Public Service Sustainability Act (PSSA), which revoked a 1%, 2%, 2%, 2% salary increase for academic staff at the University of Manitoba. In June 2020, the PSSA was ruled unlawful, unconstitutional by the Manitoba provincial courts. Now in November 2020, the Province remains involved through a stern mandate of 0%.
Dela Cruz continues: “The University of Manitoba student body is composed of driven, community-minded citizens who will lead the province into economic recovery from COVID-19. What we don’t want to see is the nurses, social workers, rehabilitation therapists, and other frontline workers plunging into unfair labour contracts upon graduation, due to the precedent set by this dispute. Furthermore, if the two parties involved are unable to come to a sound agreement in time for UMFA’s strike deadline, a delay in graduation due to academic disruption may set the province back even further in its recovery efforts.”
Within their requests during this 12-month wage dispute, UMFA is demanding restitution for the government interference of 2016. If restitution is achieved, the granted compensation of union dues will go directly towards serving equity seeking groups, namely Black, Indigenous, and Person of Colour (BIPOC) students.
For media inquires, please contact:
Jelynn Dela Cruz, UMSU President – firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristin Smith, UMSU VP Advocacy – email@example.com