University of Manitoba faculty ratifies wage agreement; strike off table for 2020

There will be no interruption to learning for students at the University of Manitoba — at least, not due to a labour dispute, for a few more months.

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) voted to ratify the agreement reached between the union and the school earlier this week, by a slim margin of 55 per cent.

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The negotiation was over a “wage re-opener” clause in their current contract bargaining agreement, which came up after the Public Services Sustainability Act was ruled unconstitutional.

In 2018, the Manitoba Labour Board ruled the university committed an unfair labour practice during bargaining with UMFA in the fall of 2016.

Members are set to receive a one-time payment due to extra work caused by the pandemic, but President Michael Shaw says the unlawful acts of the provincial government weren’t addressed.

“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,” Shaw says.

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Shaw previously told Global News the association didn’t want to interrupt learning for U of M students, even when members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike vote last month.

While students can breathe a sigh of relief, it may be short-lived, as the entire contract bargaining agreement between UMFA and the institution expires March 31, 2021.

“Members who supported the ratification, as well as those who opposed it, 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,” reads a news release sent out late Friday.

“UMFA will continue to fight for post-secondary education and for investment in public services in the months that come,” Shaw says.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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