Mediator chides U of M faculty association for dragging out strike

Click to play video: 'U of M strike continues'
U of M strike continues
The University of Manitoba and its professors have yet to reach a settlement and could expect binding arbitration. – Nov 26, 2021

A mediator is urging the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) to accept binding arbitration to settle its contract dispute with the University of Manitoba.

Mediator Arne Peltz has recommended independent binding arbitration, concluding that he sees “no further value in mediation at this time,” he wrote in a Thursday statement Global News received from the university on Friday.

The university has agreed to the mediator’s recommendations, but UMFA hasn’t, Peltz said.

The association representing more than 1,200 professors, instructors, academic librarians and archivists at Manitoba’s largest university began striking Nov. 2, calling for wage increases to address faculty retention issues.

Peltz says UMFA insists all but one of his suggestions be settled by negotiation, only then will the association agree to arbitrate recruitment and retention adjustments relating to salaries.

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“This precondition is wholly unrealistic and unworkable,” Peltz wrote. “There is no need for this strike to continue. If it does, this will not be because of a restrictive government mandate or employer intransigence.”

Click to play video: 'U of M faculty strike continues'
U of M faculty strike continues

A UMFA spokesperson says the association “is committed to negotiating a fair agreement that prioritizes recruitment and retention at the University of Manitoba.”

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“UMFA remains open to arbitration if certain issues relating to governance and working conditions for our members can be resolved beforehand,” they told Global News on Friday, adding that the university’s administration chose to reject its proposals on these points Thursday night.

UMFA says it learned Friday that the university rejected its proposals, in part, because the mediator “failed to adequately communicate information.”

Faculty association representatives and the university met on Friday, agreeing to continue bargaining over the weekend without a mediator, the spokesperson said.

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Peltz says binding arbitration is “a recognized component of the collective bargaining process,” useful in resolving disputes that affect innocent third parties like students.

“Students should not continue to suffer during a leisurely and ultimately futile negotiation,” Peltz said.

UMFA, however, says it believes it can reach an agreement with the university that will benefit its members as well as students.

The University of Manitoba said they weren’t available for an interview Friday, only saying they agreed to accept the mediator’s recommendations.

— with files from Abigail Turner

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