Academics at the University of Manitoba have been asked to make their teaching materials inaccessible to students and set-up automated out-of-office emails in preparation for a picket line Tuesday.

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Academics at the University of Manitoba have been asked to make their teaching materials inaccessible to students and set-up automated out-of-office emails in preparation for a picket line Tuesday.

The U of M Faculty Association, known as UMFA, announced Monday afternoon a recent round of mediation with administration has failed and a legal strike is set to begin Nov. 2.

In a memo to members, upwards of 1,200 professors, instructors and academic librarians, the union indicated it is taking job action for "a good salary increase for all members, that moves us all toward more competitive compensation, and improves our ability to recruit and retain faculty."

Among other key issues for the union include ensuring educators have the ability to refuse teaching online or remotely outside of a public health emergency, members are provided with "sufficient non-teaching time," and benefits are improved, per the notice.

"The University of Manitoba administration has chosen not to invest in the future of our faculty and our university, leaving us no choice except to strike," Orvie Dingwall, president of the faculty association, said in a release.

For weeks, academics have voiced concerns about the province issuing a wage increase mandate to their employer, saying it amounts to interference. The province has repeatedly insisted it is not out of the ordinary to provide such guidelines because of its role as a steward of public funds.

The undergraduate students union and a collective of students who have organized under the banner Students Supporting UMFA have publicly backed faculty members' requests.

Over the weekend, the faculty association called on incoming Progressive Conservative Leader Heather Stefanson to immediately pull the province’s wage mandate. Stefanson has yet to weigh-in on the matter.

Hours before the association’s strike deadline, U of M rejected a final offer from the union.

Earlier in the day, administration released a community update that indicated its goal throughout the collective bargaining process has been to conclude an agreement "that supports stability in operations; an outstanding educational experience for our students; fairness to our faculty members; and sustainability for our institution."

The last time academics undertook a walkout at the U of M was in 2016, during a strike that spanned three weeks and disrupted activity across its campuses.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.