Hello everyone,

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:

  • Financial layoff protection for librarians and instructors equivalent to that of professors, thus enhancing their academic freedom;
  • An increase to the minimum complement of UMFA members in our letter of understanding, which will provide greater assurance that academic programs are stable and well supported; and
  • Workload protection for librarians.

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:

  • Cam Morrill, our chief bargainer,
  • Members of the bargaining team: Brenda Austin-Smith, Orvie Dingwall, Mark Hudson, and Kevin Scott
  • Mark Gabbert, chair of the Collective Agreement Committee
  • Members of the Collective Agreement Committee, UMFA Executive, and the Board of Representatives
  • Our UMFA Staff: Greg Flemming, Jason Gisser, Andrew MacIsaac, Debbie Abraham, Ilze Ceplis, Candace Weselowski (now on maternity leave) and Barb Yapps (now happily retired)

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