Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mediator sought to get U of W, profs negotiating

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The University of Winnipeg and its professors have asked the province to appoint a mediator to get their stalled contract talks moving.

Two days of conciliation earlier this week failed to get movement on a new deal.

The U of W Faculty Association scheduled a membership meeting late Wednesday afternoon, but president Prof. Hugh Grant did not respond to an interview request.

The UWFA said on its website the meeting would discuss any new developments in bargaining, but made no reference to a possible strike vote being held.

The U of W has never had a faculty strike, though it came within a few hours of a strike in 2010. Professors have been without a contract since March 31, 2013.

Jeremy Read, senior executive officer and adviser to president Lloyd Axworthy, said Wednesday the university will not release any details about either side's position on wages and other key financial details.

"We would like to keep these conversations at the table," he said.

Read emphasized the University of Manitoba's faculty contract -- reached in October just before a strike was to start -- has no impact on negotiations at The U of W.

U of M professors settled for a three-year deal with a compounded pay increase of 7.1 per cent.

The U of W has to consider its ability to pay and its pension liabilities, and looks to universities of similar size across Canada, Read said: "Look at what other universities are settling at in our peer group.

"The averages across the country have been one to two per cent (a year). These inform our position, but that is not a position" U of W is saying it has taken, he pointed out.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 30, 2014 B5

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