Striking University of Manitoba faculty members took their picket signs and message on a march Friday afternoon, right to the steps of the administration building.
"We want to let them know loud and clear what it is we're asking for and show them that we have this broad support," said faculty association president Mark Hudson, who said the union members were joined by students, members of the public, labour groups and representatives from other faculty associations.
"What we're doing is taking a serious stand for our own working conditions but also for the learning conditions of U of M students," Hudson said, adding the support shows the issues "matter not just at the University of Manitoba but also for academics across the country."
It's also important to the general public, he added.
"Manitobans look to their university system as pillars of the community and they want to know that the education that's being delivered is the best that it can be," Hudson said, adding that current workloads do not allow that.
The demands on professors have been increasing year over year "partly through different kinds of administrative work that's being downloaded onto faculty," meaning faculty members are spending more time in their offices when they should be teaching, engaging with students and researching, he said.
The numbers of courses faculty are expected to teach keeps increasing as does the number of students in each of those courses, he said.
- Profs stand firm as conciliation talks begin with U of M
- 'The integrity of this institution is at stake': U of M faculty hit picket lines
The strike by more than 1,200 faculty members is now on Day 4, impacting almost all 30,000 students in some way.
Although many classes are continuing as usual because they are taught by non-UMFA members — teaching assistants and sessional instructors — most students are also registered in classes with professors who are on the picket lines.
- Info on courses, classroom scheduling and service changes can be found on the university's website.
Members of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) have been holding pickets and handing out information sheets along Chancellor Matheson Road, University Crescent, and King's Drive as well as at the Bannatyne campus near the Brodie Centre.
Hudson has said until a new deal is reached, the picket lines will go up every weekday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.
UMFA felt compelled, though, to take the message right to administration's door because those pickets "are a little bit invisible to the people who are making the decisions at the UM administration team," he added.
A crowd of about 250 met at the campus' main intersection of Chancellor Matheson and University Crescent and walked to the administration building, holding a rally outside with speeches, signs and a lot of chanting and cheering.
"The University of Manitoba administration seems to be having a hard time understanding our priorities. They also seem unaware that the issues we are fighting for are broadly supported by students, by our members and by academics across Canada," Hudson said.
"So, today we are bringing that message to their front door."
UMFA and administration bargaining teams met with a provincially appointed conciliator on Wednesday and Thursday. They didn't meet Friday, but more talks are planned, Hudson said.
The two sides have agreed to a blackout on discussing specifics of the negotiations in public.