The Ratification Vote that began on September 6 at the Special General Meeting will continue on Thursday, September 7 and Friday, September 8 at the times and locations detailed below.
It is important to note the following, however, which was discussed at the meeting. On your ballot you will find the following qualification:
I accept the proposed collective agreement with the proviso that I understand that the wage rates and benefits of any kind found in it are imposed as a result of the Public Services Sustainability Act (“Bill 28”) and not freely collectively bargained as between my union and my employer. My acceptance is therefore conditional on the legal validity of the Public Services Sustainability Act, and subject to revisions of the collective agreement if the Act is found to be unconstitutional.
This text is followed by a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ box, one of which you are asked to mark with an ‘x.’ As was outlined at the meeting today, as well as in the Chief Negotiator’s report sent to you via email, this text comes in response to the wage restraints imposed by the Manitoba Government via the ‘Public Services Sustainability Act’ (PSSA), a piece of legislation that UMFA holds to be unconstitutional. If you vote ‘yes’ in this ratification vote, you are affirming that this settlement was bargained under duress, and you accept the settlement with the caveat that should the PSSA be declared unconstitutional by a court of law the Association has asserted its right to avail itself of whatever remedies such a court may order.
Balloting will happen at the following times and locations:
Thursday, September 7
Friday, September 8
We are pleased to announce that UMFA and U of M administration have tentatively arrived at a settlement, subject to ratification by UMFA members. The deal provides us with gains on the non-compensation related elements in our expedited bargaining package, approved by Members in July, 2017:
This is a four-year contract, beginning in April 2017. Increases to compensation for the first three years are consistent with the unproclaimed Public Services Sustainability Act – an increase to base salaries of 0% in 2017-18, 0.75% in 2018-19, and 1.0% in 2019-20. Various other funds and forms of compensation will also be increased at these rates. In addition, we have negotiated a “salary re-opener” for year 4 of the contract, which means that in August of 2020 there will be a negotiation of monetary items only, to cover the last year of the contract (2020-21).
Details of the complete package will be sent out shortly. Please take some time to read it before our General Meeting and ratification vote, to be scheduled soon. At that meeting Members will have a chance to ask questions of the Executive, Bargaining Team, and staff before the ratification vote is held. The vote will be by secret ballot.
As you may remember, we challenged the employer’s approach to bargaining in the last round of negotiations, bringing them before the Manitoba Labour Board with the claim that they breached their duty to bargain by ceding their responsibilities to the government. We still await the outcome of those hearings. This round, negotiations were similarly hampered, this time by the government’s Public Services Sustainability Act (PSSA), which interfered with our rights to bargain compensation and hence affected all aspects of bargaining. We, along with many other unions in Manitoba, have launched a legal challenge in regard to the PSSA, and we will continue with that legal action, challenging the constitutionality of the Act. We have reserved the right to take advantage of any legal remedies that are awarded should the challenge be successful.
This is to say that while we are happy to have secured important job security protections for Librarians and Instructors, this collective agreement was not freely bargained. You will notice that your ratification ballot reflects this fact. This will be explained in greater detail at our ratification meeting.
Aside from the detrimental effect of government interference, the discussions with administration in this round were cordial, efficient, and productive. We are hopeful that this will continue. We are certain that this is a very favourable outcome from our 2016 job action: by showing our solidarity and resolve, we are much stronger.
We are also greatly strengthened by the gains from this bargaining round. It has long been a shortcoming in our collective agreement that instructors and librarians had weaker job security than professors. We were also disappointed that we were unable to develop workload protections for librarians in our last round. Those deficiencies have been overcome in this round, and our entire association will be stronger because of it – equality amongst our membership leads to greater solidarity. That strength will be important in year 4 of this contract when we negotiate compensation, as by then our salaries will be even further behind. UMFA will be prepared to bargain aggressively to address the situation then, and will need your support.
On behalf of all the UMFA members, I would like to thank all the people who worked with such talent, knowledge and dedication to arrive at this outcome:
Nearly everyone mentioned has spent both last summer and this summer supporting collective bargaining for us.
Finally, I would also like to specifically thank Mark Hudson and Robert Chernomas for their leadership in 2016, which formed the foundation for the current successful round.
Best wishes for a smooth academic year,
Janet Morrill, President
Anomalies Fund – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Anomalies Fund? Article 26 of the UMFA Collective Agreement establishes a fund of $100,000 per academic year to address anomalies in the base salaries of UMFA Members. It is administered by a joint committee composed of two appointees by UMFA, two appointees by the UM administration, and a mutually appointed Chair. The Anomalies Fund is designed to correct salary inequities by awarding an increase to a Member’s base salary.
Who is eligible to apply? The joint committee considers applications from individual UMFA Members as well as applications sent on behalf of Members by their department Head or Dean/Director. The date of eligibility is established by the joint committee, and this information is included in the information sent to UMFA Members. In recent rounds, Members as of March 31 prior to the academic year under consideration were considered eligible (e.g. for the 2016-17 academic year, UMFA Members as of March 31, 2016 are eligible to apply). Salary adjustments are normally made retroactive to April 1 of the academic year under consideration. It is not possible to make salary adjustments prior to this date.
What is an anomaly? A salary anomaly is interpreted to mean a salary that is at variance with normal salary ranges of department, faculty/school, or library colleagues having comparable experience, rank, and qualifications. Anomaly adjustments are not intended to deal with merit, general market conditions in a discipline, retention issues, altering past decisions about denial of satisfactory career progress increments, or slower progress in promotion than a peer.
How can anomalies arise? Anomalies can arise for many different reasons. Some common examples include:
How is an anomaly determined? The committee determines whether a Member’s salary is anomalous by comparing it with the salaries of those in comparable positions, taking into account such things as discipline, career progress increments, previous experience, and special qualifications. For many Members, this will mean that their salary will be compared with others at the same rank in their department or unit. For example, if an assistant professor in English makes an application, their salary will be compared to the salaries of other assistant professors in English. In units where there are few comparators, or where the applicant provides compelling reasons to support using comparators outside their unit, salaries in cognate disciplines may be considered (e.g. an assistant professor in English might use comparators within the Faculty of Arts in the Humanities). Although departments/units tend to be homogenous with respect to discipline, there are a few departments/units at UM that house different disciplines where there may be a market-driven differential between them.
What is the process? In addition to the material in the application, the Member’s Dean/Director is asked to provide the committee with comments on the application and the comparators mentioned, and to provide any further information the committee may require, such as other comparable peers, details of any inequity at hiring, relevant prior experience, and the process by which starting salaries are determined. Deans/Directors are also able to help the committee understand qualifications and market factors affecting different disciplines.
In arriving at a final decision, the committee considers the information contained in the application, the comments of the Dean/Director, as well as its own independent analysis of salaries within a unit. Each member of the committee makes their own assessment, and those assessments are discussed by the committee as a whole. In some cases, the committee will seek additional information from Deans/Directors, with the goal of gaining a broad understanding of the salary structure within a given unit. It should be emphasized that the committee arrives at its own decisions regarding the merit of the case and the size of any salary adjustments. These amounts are sometimes higher than an amount recommended by the Dean/Director, and are sometimes lower.
How can I find out if my salary is lower than that of others in comparable positions? Members can make an appointment with the UMFA office to come in and view the salary information that UMFA has on file. The following information is available on each Member: faculty, department/unit, salary, rank, highest degree, year of highest degree, years in current rank, UMFA start date, and gender.
Is an anomaly awarded based on those variables alone? No. However, this is the information that UMFA has available on Members, so if this information indicates that your salary may be anomalous, we encourage you to make an application. The committee will have access to additional information from the Dean/Director that will be taken into consideration. For example, a difference in salary may be justifiable if a comparator has higher qualifications, special skills, more relevant work experience for the position in which they were hired, postdoctoral fellowships, appointments at other institutions, professional certificates, competing offers, and so on. The information from the Dean may indicate if factors such as these explain the differences. The committee will assess this information, looking not only at the justification, but also looking for consistency in how salaries are determined within a unit.
Does UMFA have information about Members’ work experience or qualifications before they were hired at UM? Can I see what qualifications my colleagues had before they were hired? No, UMFA does not have this information. It is considered part of a Member’s confidential file. The information that UMFA has only starts once a Member is hired at the University of Manitoba.
Can I ask the Dean/Director of my faculty to provide me with information about what factors were taken into account when I was hired? You can request that the Dean provide you with their assessment, with the understanding that confidential information about comparators may be redacted.
How much money is awarded? Each case is unique. The committee has a total of $100,000 available. Any money not allocated goes to the Library for acquisitions. In recent years, the average award has varied between $2,000 to $3,000, ranging from $500 to several times the average award. Any award is applied to a Member’s base salary, so it will be included in their salary on an ongoing basis. It is not a one-time payment. The success rate is about 2/3, varying somewhat from year to year.
Do certain ranks tend to have more anomalous salaries than others? Yes. Because anomalies are often created by inequitable starting salaries, there are typically more cases in the lower ranks. There are also more cases at the early stages of years in rank. As Members progress through the salary structure, career progress increments and salary thresholds and maxima for each rank will compress differences in salary, including differences between disciplines. This process tends to reduce any anomalies over time, so that there tend to be fewer anomalies at the higher ranks and after several years in rank. However, they can still occur in any rank, and in any unit. If you believe your salary may be anomalous, we encourage you to make an application.
Do I need to ask for a specific amount? Some applicants will suggest a range for the award if they are uncertain about a specific amount. The committee will look at all salaries within the unit when making its analysis and determining the size of an award.
Are awards limited only to those who apply? No. The committee reserves the right to make salary adjustments where anomalies are identified through the course of its work, or where an award to one Member will create an anomaly for other Members who may not have applied. However, the committee does not undertake a comprehensive review of all UMFA salaries.
I was hired at the same time as another person in my department, but they now make more than I do. Do I have grounds for a claim? Not necessarily. For example, a Dean may grant one Member an Extraordinary Salary Increase (ESI) for retention purposes. In this instance, the salary difference is justifiable, and not grounds for an anomaly award.
A recent hire in my department is making the same salary as I am. We have comparable qualifications, but I have more years in rank. Do I have grounds for a claim? It depends. If the new hire is eligible for career progress increments then you may have grounds. However, if you are both above the salary maximum for your rank, and therefore ineligible for increments, there are no grounds. The rationale for this position is that the UMFA Collective Agreement specifies a salary structure that was arrived at through collective bargaining, including eligibility for increments. The joint committee will not impose a salary structure that has been, or that could be, negotiated through collective bargaining. However, if the new hire were making more than you, then the joint committee would consider that an anomaly, and you could ask for an award to make the salaries the same.
My research and publication record since arriving at UM is stronger than my comparators. Can I apply to the Anomalies Fund on these grounds? No. The Anomalies Fund does not address questions of merit. In this case, you could apply for a Merit Award. A Merit Award is one-time only, and does not go into base salary.
I have had an anomalously low salary for several years. Is the Anomalies Fund able to make a retroactive award? No. The Anomalies Fund can only grant an award based on the year that the application is made. For example, the current application treats the 2016-17 year, and any award would only correct your base salary retroactive to April 1, 2016.
I have earned more qualifications than I had when I was hired. Can I apply to the Anomalies Fund for a salary adjustment? No. The Anomalies Fund does not assess the value of increased qualifications, and only considers qualifications at the point of hire. However, you could speak to your Dean about the possibility of an Extraordinary Salary Increase (ESI).
Can I base my claim on salaries of people who are outside of my unit? You can, but you will need to justify why these comparators are appropriate. Please avoid using comparators in disciplines where there is a market-driven differential. The committee will use the information you provide to assess the merit of your claim.
Can I appeal if I did not get an award, or if I disagree with the amount of the award? No, the decisions of the committee are final and binding, as per the UMFA Collective Agreement. However, you can apply again in the following year.
July 6, 2017
Dear UMFA Members,
This is my first President’s message, and I would first like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead the faculty association in 2017-18. I am honoured, and will do my best to serve the membership.
Things have been very busy in the UMFA office. First, on June 30, we said goodbye to our professional officer Barb Yapps as she begins her well-deserved retirement after many dedicated years at UMFA. Things will simply not be the same without her. Barb has helped hundreds of members over the years with a calm and cheerful demeanour, and defended them with fierce tenacity and determination. I know we all wish her the very best and will miss her greatly.
We have hired Andrew MacIsaac to join Jason Gisser, our other in-house legal counsel. Andrew is a graduate of Robson Hall, and has extensive experience with unions and labour law. We are very pleased to have him joining our team.
So, let me update you on some of our recent activities.
A legal challenge to the Public Sector Sustainability Act (Bill 28) and Bargaining in 2017
First, you’ve heard that UMFA has joined the Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS) in filing an injunction against the recently passed Public Sector Accountability Act. This act, once proclaimed, limits the University to wage increases of 0%, 0%, 0.75%, and 1% for union contracts negotiated after March 20, 2017. We have sought an injunction preventing the imposition of the act, whether it is proclaimed or not, as we firmly believe it is a violation of our constitutional rights. The injunction would allow us to fully engage in bargaining and address compensation issues at the bargaining table this summer. The legal claim itself, the PDPS press release that was sent out on Tuesday morning, and all the press coverage so far can be found on our website.
In parallel with this, we are preparing for bargaining as our last collective agreement ended on March 31. We thank all of you who took time to participate in our constituency meetings and filled out our bargaining survey. Using this information, our UMFA staff and the Collective Agreement Committee are now finalizing our package of proposals that will be brought to a Special General Meeting later this month. For a brief primer on bargaining, see our latest Newsletter, which can be found at this link.
Some Reflections on President Barnard’s Recent Comments
Finally, let me briefly address President Barnard’s response to a letter that we sent him regarding the recently passed University budget (which is on our website, here). In his letter, he said he was challenged to replicate our claim that the welcome increase to the unit budgets only restored most of this year’s cuts, but the units are still $20.3 million below the 2012-2013 levels. Our numbers were based on the following:
Cumulative cuts to faculties, colleges and libraries baseline budgets since 2013-14
Annual (cut) increase
Cumulative since 2013
These come from Table 1 of the budget submissions provided to, and passed by, the Board of Governors for 2013-2016 budget years, and from Attachment 3 of the 2017-2018 budget submission. These budget submissions can be found within the Board of Governors open agendas at the following links:
These cuts concern us – the administration’s spending priorities must address U of M’s core mission of research and teaching. We need to ensure faculty renewal, job security, fair compensation, fair workloads, safe and accessible facilities, reasonable class sizes, and adequate course offerings to provide our students with the quality of education they deserve.
I think it’s also important to address several of President Barnard’s other comments, particularly those in regard to an interview with Robert Chernomas, UMFA’s Chief Negotiator in 2016-2017, that was published by CAUT not long ago (see https://www.caut.ca/bulletin/2017/05/interview-robert-chernomas.) I echo what Dr. Chernomas has said. The administration needs to understand that our position at the bargaining table is not the will of any single individual – we establish our bargaining positions through a participatory democratic process. When the UMFA bargaining team enters bargaining it is with a mandate.
President Barnard also took issue with Dr. Chernomas’s assertion that strike votes are the only means by which academic freedom, fair salaries, and collegial governance can be protected. Unfortunately, we have ample evidence from the 2013 and 2016 bargaining rounds to support Robert’s position.
Without negotiated contracts, university administrations have control over the University’s budgets and resources, discipline of members, how to define academic freedom, what metrics to use, when to amalgamate faculties and departments, and more. Sometimes the only way to convince the administration how important these issues are to our Members is with the threat of a strike. In the 2013 round of bargaining the three issues still on the table toward the end of negotiations were academic freedom, performance indicators, and amalgamation. President Barnard’s bargaining team, during dozens of meetings throughout the summer, made it clear that they had no interest in providing any language that might limit their power to define academic freedom, amalgamate units, or impose performance indicators. It only under the threat of a strike that the administration made concessions on those matters.
Similarly, in 2016, after a long summer of bargaining, a strike vote, and a strike deadline, there was no significant movement from the administration’s bargaining team on the issues of core concern to Members. It was only after 20 days of strike that President Barnard’s administration agreed to language that began to address Members’ concerns on workload, among other things.
This is a new round and it is our sincere hope that we can move forward with good faith and resolve on both sides. What I learned during the strike was that strength comes from solidarity. When we stand together and support one another, our voices are more likely to be heard. We speak in Senate, we speak in our classes, we speak in the community, and we speak at the bargaining table. I am hopeful that this round we will be heard and will reach a satisfactory agreement without a labour disruption that is hard on all of the university community.
Please be looking for an announcement of the date of our special general meeting. I hope to see many of you there, and I look forward to a good year. Remember that we are just a phone call or email away if needed, and enjoy the summer sunshine.
The Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS) is a group of unions representing over 100,000 workers in Manitoba. The group was formed to challenge the Pallister government's Public Services Sustainability Act, and to defend public services and their employees. On July 4, this group filed for an injunction against the Act. The statement of claim is below (click on the image to access the entire document), as well as a press release issued by the Manitoba Federation of Labour on behalf of the Partnership.
STATEMENT OF CLAIM filed in the Court of Queen's Bench on July 4