“The Arc Bends Increasingly Towards Workplace Justice” – reply to government appeal of PSSA decision

The Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS – of which UMFA is a member) has filed a reply to the Government’s appeal of the PSSA decision. You may remember that the court of Qeen’s Bench declared the PSSA not only unlawful, but “draconian”.

In the reply to the appeal, counsel for the PDPS asserts that the Court of Queen’s bench arrived at the correct decision based on the findings of the Labour Board in regard to UMFA’s 2016 unfair labour practice complaint.

They also assert that “the trial Judge in this case had the benefit of an extensive body of evidence, which provided important context for applying the s. 2(d) [the Charter right to freedom of association] test. The intimate familiarity she obtained as a result should not be lightly ignored.”

This refers to the hundreds of pages of affidavits submitted by Manitoba’s unions and hours of testimony provided by their officers and staff, including UMFA’s past-president Mark Hudson.

By contrast, the government introduced almost no evidence to support its position.

Referring to seminal decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), the PDPS argues that “The purpose of freedom of association is to enable individuals, who are vulnerable on their own, to come together to overcome power imbalances and participate more equally and effectively in society. In the labour context, collective bargaining has historically helped workers overcome the inherent inequality in the employment relationship, allowing them to participate in determining their employment terms instead of having to accept what their employer chooses to give them.”

Counsel also argues that the Trial judge did not err in matters of law.

Read the full decision here.

Did you know that UMFA Board of Representatives meetings are open to ALL UMFA members?

Want to participate in meetings as we prepare for bargaining?

Just show up! All meeting dates and times are posted here: http://www.umfa.ca/news/meetings-events.  Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get the Zoom link for the next meeting.

Looking for the list of Board reps?  Find that here: http://www.umfa.ca/get-involved/board-of-representatives.  Want to become Board member? Contact the UMFA Office: (204) 474-8272.

Bill 28/PSSA – Gov files Appeal

The MB Government has filed their appeal of the Court of Queen’s bench decision declaring Bill 28/the PSSA unconstitutional. The appeal by-and-large repeats previously-made arguments, and can be read here. The PDPS (the group of unions challenging the PSSA) has 30 days to file a response – it will appear on the “Issues” tab on the UMFA website once it’s filed.  

The remedies portion of the trial is now scheduled for November 22-26, 2021, and will be heard by the Justice who heard the original challenge. Court proceedings are open to the public, and documentation will appear on the UMFA website’s “Issues” tab.

Is your department/unit hiring? You should read this!

Deciding on departmental hiring priorities, search procedures, and methods of evaluating applicants for academic positions are very important parts of collegial governance.

Did you know that…

  • Your Dean/Director must first ensure there’s a planning/priorities meeting of UMFA members prior to hiring an UMFA position?
  • UMFA members are to make up the majority of voting members on hiring committees?
  • That you can report problems with a hiring committee to UMFA’s Executive Director without breaching confidentiality?

Read more on hiring procedures in our “Know your CA” pamphlet series:

During the pandemic Professors, Instructors, Librarians and Archivists at the UM are burning the candle at both ends, working even more hours than before to provide quality remote education. At the same time, we’re homeschooling our own children, being caregivers for vulnerable dependents, trying to transform our homes into offices, and battling the isolation and anxiety. It’s hard work, but we do it because we love it.  

We're some of the best researchers and educators in the country, making sure Manitobans and those who come to the UM from outside the province get the experience they need and deserve. The UM is a member of the U15 – a group of research-intensive universities from across the country. While our work is stellar, our compensation is not – we have a hard time attracting and retaining new talent because our salaries are some of the lowest in the U15. This hurts the quality of education we provide, and it will get worse if we don’t reverse the current trend.

Collective bargaining is one of the most important way we advance our shared goals. Below are some brief explanations of how we do it.

A Brief on Process

Typically, the process begins as soon as a Collective Agreement (CA) is signed: UMFA Staff and Grievance Officers keep track of various issues that arise as the new Agreement is put to use. These issues, along with those raised at constituency meetings, are discussed by the Collective Agreement Committee (CAC). The CAC combines all this information with data gathered through a bargaining survey to create bargaining proposals. Those proposals are then debated by the Board of Representatives, which recommends the proposals to Members, who further debate them at a General Meeting.

With proposals discussed and approved, the Bargaining Team then presents them to the Employer. The Employer also presents their proposals. As negotiations unfold, the Bargaining Team (BT) reports back to the CAC, which debates possible changes to proposals and gives the BT direction on what to communicate to the Employer.

Depending on what happens at the bargaining table, the Executive organizes further constituency meetings, General Meetings, a strike vote, and marches, rallies, and other actions that support the Bargaining Team in their efforts. Once a tentative agreement is reached, the Executive also organizes a ratification vote. If Members think the deal is acceptable, a ‘yes’ vote turns the tentative deal into a new Collective Agreement.

Bargaining process flow chart

Who Runs the Process?

Bargaining is nothing if not a collective effort. The Bargaining Team (BT) is one of the most visible bodies that partakes in the bargaining process, and is made up of a Chief Negotiator, a number of Members (five this time), each appointed by UMFA’s Board of Representatives. UMFA’s legal staff are also on the BT. The Bargaining Team presents proposals to the Employer and reports to the Collective Agreement Committee on the day-to-day goings-on of bargaining.

While the Collective Agreement Committee (CAC) isn’t as visible as the Executive Council or the Bargaining Team, it plays an important role in the process: Composed of the Executive, the BT, and other UMFA Members appointed by the Board of Representatives, it solicits information from Members, formulates proposals, and develops bargaining strategy. Staff’s expertise and advice are also sought. The Bargaining Team reports back to the CAC regularly during bargaining, and the CAC modifies proposals and strategy as negotiations develop.

During, and even before, bargaining, The Executive Council (Exec) is responsible for developing timelines and ensuring that they’re met, preparing and releasing communications to the Membership and the media (with the help of staff and the Communications Committee), liaising with other unions and the labour movement, and anything else that needs to be done. It’s composed of a President and Vice President elected by the UMFA Membership, the immediate Past President, and five to seven Members appointed by the Board of Reps on the recommendation of the President.

UMFA’s Board of Representatives (the Board, or BoR) is made up of elected representatives from all over the UM. They are responsible for organizing constituency meetings and communicating with their colleagues about bargaining and sharing that information with the Board and the Executive. Board reps are an important link between the BT, Exec, the CAC, and the Membership as a whole, and have a hand in mobilization, among other things.

However, the highest decision making body at UMFA is a General Meeting, constituted when all Members of UMFA are called to discuss specific topics. In the context of collective bargaining, Special General Meetings (SGMs) are called to discuss proposals, overall strategy, and strike votes. It’s also at a Special General Meeting that a tentative deal is discussed, and a ratification vote taken.

Together, these various bodies make the bargaining process what it is: a dialogue between Members about what the workplace should look like and how to make it a reality.

We Make U of M Happen!

Want to learn more? Check out these resources from our last round of bargaining:

Latest News http://www.umfa.ca/strike-information/latest-news

Press Releases http://www.umfa.ca/strike-information/press-releases

Resources for Students http://www.umfa.ca/strike-information/resources-for-students

Resources for Members http://www.umfa.ca/strike-information/resources-for-members