Faculty at the University of Manitoba could be on strike early next week, with a key issue being not money, but professors' academic freedoms.

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) has set a strike date of Tuesday if contract negotiations don't produce an agreement by midnight.

A conciliator has been appointed to the negotiations, and both sides are expected to talk throughout the weekend.

University administration has offered the faculty association a new four-year deal with an 8.9 per cent salary increase, but the union says the key issue is not money.

Robert Chernomas, an economics professor who is bargaining on behalf of the union, says the university wants a say in the work they do.

"They start to dictate to professors what kind of research they do, what kind of journals they can publish in, how much research money that they have to get per year," Chernomas said Friday.

"As far as we're concerned, we're the ones who should be making those kinds of decisions."

University president David Barnard denied the union's claims in a message posted online Thursday evening.

"I want to be clear that we have not put forward anything in this bargaining process that would erode the academic freedom enjoyed by our faculty," Barnard wrote.

"We have not proposed a performance management system for UMFA members. Nor have we introduced any restrictions on research for UMFA members."

University faculty have been on strike in 2001 and 1995. But if they hit the picket lines next week, it would mark the first time they're striking for academic freedom.

"We're here to make a deal, and we could make a deal if he'd simply accept academic freedom language that exists in many contracts around the country," Chernomas said.