Letter from the President
I am writing to provide you with an update on our Unfair Labour Practice complaint (ULP). As you all read in our message sent January 31, the Labour Board agreed with UMFA that the administration acted in bad faith when they failed to inform us that they had received instructions from the government to freeze our salaries and only offer a one-year contract. We’re in agreement with much in the decision, but have asked the Board to clarify and possibly reconsider a few of its points.
As you also saw, the administration in their press release after the ULP decision “respectfully disagreed” with the Labour Board Decision and were “considering their options”. We were disappointed with their reaction because, at the very least, it casts doubt on the sincerity of any apology they might deliver as required by the Labour Board. The admin’s reaction also imperils future bargaining as they evidently would do the same thing again in the likely event that the government continues its bullying behind closed doors. A simple apology can go a long way in repairing relationships, and the administration has now denied that possibility.
The admin has asked the Board to review and reverse its decision. It is painful to see our employer react to the Board’s decision in this way. Even if the Labour Board retracts its criticism of the administration’s actions in the current ULP, surely it will be a pyrrhic victory if these protracted battles and protests from the administration of their “innocence” bring employee relations, and our university, back to 2016.
So, where are we now? The relationship between UMFA and the administration was at a low point in Fall 2016, and I believe both sides had been trying to move forward in small steps since then. UMFA members care about this institution and how it fulfills its academic mission. That was foremost in all our minds as we walked the picket lines. It seems like the administration’s current actions are driven by vanity, and take us two steps backwards. Although this is the third time in ten years that this administration has been found guilty of an Unfair Labour Practice, and the second time in the past year alone, the administration is still hoping to portray itself as an “employer of choice” who has done nothing wrong and bears no responsibility for the 2016 Strike. We believe this attempt will be futile: in the second-last decision against the admin, delivered merely months ago, the Labour Board noted the following:
It is hardly surprising that the Faculty Association was exasperated by the University’s continued failure to recognize its exclusive bargaining rights. The University’s actions transgress upon perhaps the most fundamental principle of labour law. It is the Board’s view that such conduct by the University must stop.
Through it all, UMFA is doing what is best for our members. Often that involves cooperation and collaboration with the administration. But if it requires that we fight, we will.
Check back here for more details regarding the Manitoba Labour Board decision.
For the joint press release from UMFA and the Manitoba Federation of Labour, click here.
For the full ULP Decision, click here.
For a summary of the results, click here.
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