Manitoba

University of Manitoba faculty narrowly vote to accept final bargaining deal

Faculty at the University of Manitoba voted by a slim margin to accept the school's final offer on Friday after reaching a tentative agreement earlier this week.

Less than 55 per cent of voting members were in favour of ratifying university’s offer: union

Faculty at the University of Manitoba voted by a slim margin to accept the school's final offer on Friday after extended mediation. (Dana Hatherly/CBC)

Faculty at the University of Manitoba voted by a slim margin to accept the school's final contract offer on Friday after reaching a tentative agreement earlier this week.

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association said less than 55 per cent of its voting members cast their ballots in favour of ratifying the agreement, which includes a one-time payment to recognize extra work done during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Members who supported the ratification, as well as those who opposed it, shared the sentiment that UMFA members deserve better," the association said in a news release. 

"Members agreed that urgent political action is necessary to ensure investment in higher education and the public sectors, as well as to end government intervention in the governance of the University."

The university and the union that represents its faculty reached the tentative agreement on Monday, which averted strike action that could have begun the following morning.

The faculty association did not disclose details about the agreement, but said earlier this week that the university would not agree to a salary increase.

The release condemned what it called the attacks by Premier Brian Pallister's government on post-secondary education, as well as on wages and work conditions for many public sector workers.

"UMFA's professors, instructors, librarians, and archivists have expressed widespread anger at the university president, Michael Bennaroch, as well as the Pallister government, and know they deserve better," said Michael Shaw, president of the faculty association, in the release.

"UMFA will continue to fight for post-secondary education and for investment in public services in the months that come."

The original deadline for this round of mediation was Nov. 14, but that was extended 24 hours by the faculty association.

The union previously said its members wanted a modest increase in pay, a more equitable salary grid and extra supports during the COVID-19 pandemic for faculty who have children and other dependents to care for.

Meanwhile, the provincial government told the university's administration to seek a 2.5 per cent reduction in faculty labour costs in its negotiations for the 2020-21 school year.

The university's roughly 1,200 professors, instructors and librarians last walked off the job in 2016, during a strike that lasted about three weeks.

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