University of Manitoba apologizes to faculty association

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association said it has received an apology from administration for bargaining unfairly

UMFA asked for $2.4-M payout, 'very happy' with university's response

More than 1,200 faculty members at the U of M's Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses went on strike to protest the changed deal. (Bert Savard/CBC)

Nearly four months after the Manitoba Labour Board ruled that the University of Manitoba engaged in unfair labour practice, the University of Manitoba Faculty Association said it received an apology from the administration.

A news release from UMFA also said the university will pay the maximum fine. It did not give an amount, but in a letter sent to association members in January, UMFA said the maximum fine would be $2,000 per member. Given UMFA had 1,200 members at the time, that would total $2.4 million.

"We recently asked President Barnard to apologize and pay the maximum amount of damages ordered by the
Board as a way to help heal some wounds created in bargaining," said UMFA president Janet Morrill in the release. "We are very happy with how the President's Office responded to that request."

In an emailed statement, spokesperson John Danakas said the university "deeply values the contributions of faculty members.

"We successfully reached a four-year agreement with UMFA in 2017 and are committed to building on that positive step to continue to improve our relationship with them," he said. 

In January 2018 the Manitoba Labour Board ruled that at the direction of the provincial government, U of M administration engaged in unfair labour practice.

The labour board didn't set the amount of compensation. Instead it ordered UMFA and the administration to negotiate.

In September 2016, the university offered UMFA members a four-year deal with increases of one per cent the first year and two per cent in each of the next three years.

According to testimony from Greg Juliano, the U of M's associate vice-president of human resources, the province mandated the university to rescind the proposal and replace it with a one-year agreement with a wage freeze.

"It put us in a predicament, [where] the only approved mandate we had was zero per cent," Juliano told the board. "The implication from [government] is that our income could be impacted by our lack of co-operation."

In November 2016, faculty members at the U of M were on strike for 21 days to protest the reversal.