Faculty at the University of Manitoba hit the picket lines Tuesday morning after reaching an “impasse” with the school’s administration over contract negotiations.
The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) announced members voted to authorize a strike in mid-October, following bargaining that started in early August.
A deadline for strike was later set for Nov. 2.
In a release late Monday afternoon UMFA president Orvie Dingwall said the union had reached an impasse with the school after mediation failed to produce an agreement that prioritized faculty recruitment and retention.
“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,” said Dingwall in the release.
“Students know that faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. It is disappointing that the University administration did not want to exercise its independence from the provincial government and provide stability for students by accepting our offer and avoiding a strike.”
The union is calling for wage increases to address what it calls continued recruitment and retention issues, as well asking the university to push back against government-imposed regulations that call for small raises over the next three years.
The union represents more than 1,200 professors, instructors, academic librarians, and archivists at the University of Manitoba.
Dingwall said the union tabled a final offer to the school Monday morning, but administration rejected it.
In a statement posted to the university’s website later in the day Monday, the school said it’s last offer included a two-year monetary proposal with both general salary increases across the board and changes to the salary structure that would increase salaries an average of 9.5% over two years.
University of Manitoba president and vice-chancellor Michael Benarroch said UMFA rejected the offer.
“We are disappointed that UMFA has rejected our offer and moved to strike,” Benarroch said in the statement.
“We strongly believe it’s a fair deal as it would allow us to recruit new faculty with more competitive offers, support faculty retention, and ensure faculty wages remain competitive with their U15 counterparts as they advance in their careers. We hope to be back at the table soon.”
After UMFA voted to strike last month, the University of Manitoba Students’ Union board passed a motion to “stand in solidarity with the UMFA and students supporting UMFA”.
The association said Monday students may be stuck in class longer this spring, depending on how long the strike lasts.
The U of M says students and staff can find information about the university’s operations, updated daily through the strike, at the school’s website.