Manitoba

U of M faculty strike talks hits stalemate, mediator calls for binding arbitration

The mediator trying to find a middle ground in the three-week-long University of Manitoba faculty strike has hit an impasse and is recommending binding arbitration to resolve the dispute.

Administration accepts recommendation but union eyes counter-proposal

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association, which represents over 1,200 professors, instructors and librarians at the Winnipeg-based university, went on strike Nov. 2. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

The mediator trying to find a middle ground in the three-week-long University of Manitoba faculty strike has hit an impasse and is recommending binding arbitration to resolve the dispute.

Arne Peltz advised the two sides this weekend that he believes there is no likelihood they will reach a settlement without a protracted strike continuing.

As such, binding arbitration — in which a decision is legally binding and enforceable, similar to a court order — is the best path forward to an agreement, he suggested.

The U of M put out a news release on Monday saying it accepts the recommendation.

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association, for its part, doesn't tend to agree.

In an email to CBC News attributed to president Orvie Dingwall, the union said it is reviewing the proposal and "will make a counter-proposal regarding the specifics of an arbitration."

UMFA, which represents over 1,200 professors, instructors and librarians at the Winnipeg-based university, went on strike Nov. 2.

The association is seeking higher salaries for its members, arguing that persistently low pay is causing retention and recruitment problems. The U of M ranks second to last out of the 15 research-based institutions in terms of salary.

    The union has also cited government interference in the bargaining process as preventing successful negotiations with university administration.

    Last week, UMFA tabled an offer to the university's administration the union says would have addressed the issue of retention and recruitment of UMFA members and could have ended the strike, but the administration chose to reject it or to make a counter-offer.

    "In addition to addressing the administration's unwillingness to present a realistic offer to UMFA members, the two sides have not yet agreed on issues relating to working conditions," Dingwall said in the release from UMFA.

    "Specifically, the administration continues to refuse language that allows faculty to take their full vacation and refuses to accept language that would prevent the administration from forcing members to teach their classes online in non-pandemic times.

    "UMFA strongly believes that these outstanding issues must be addressed before the association could agree to binding arbitration to address financial compensation. UMFA will inform the university of these outstanding conditions as a pre-condition before any discussions of binding arbitration would begin."

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories. He is the author of award-nominated and bestselling The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent.

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