UMFA strike ends

Classes resume day following ratification vote

Photo by Arsalan Ahmed, staff

The University of Manitoba and the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) have reached an agreement to enter into binding arbitration, ending a strike that has lasted over a month.

It was announced the morning of Dec. 6 that the university and the UMFA executive committee had reached a tentative agreement to end the strike that began Nov. 2, and that UMFA members would vote at a special general meeting that evening whether or not to accept the agreement. UMFA’s executive council recommended that its membership ratify the agreement.

The successful result of the ratification vote was announced by UMFA president Orvie Dingwall just after midnight.

Alongside its announcement of the tentative agreement, the university stated the agreement’s ratification would result in classes interrupted by the strike resuming the following day, giving many students roughly a day’s notice of the restart after over a month away.

With the strike interrupting many classes from Nov. 2 to Dec. 6, the university has implemented numerous changes to the 2021-22 academic calendar. The winter break period will span Dec. 24 to Jan. 4 and interrupted fall term classes will have their last day of instruction moved to Jan. 19, 2022, the winter term reading week will be turned into a reading day — with students getting only Feb. 22 off rather than the typical week — and voluntary withdrawal deadlines for continuing and interrupted courses set for Dec. 10 and Dec. 21, respectively. The winter term will now begin Jan. 24.

The strike came after years of negotiation between the university and the union, with faculty salaries being the primary issue. Faculty wages have been constrained since 2017, with a mandate from the provincial government initiating a two-year wage freeze for government employees followed by a 0.75 per cent pay increase in the third year and a one per cent increase in the fourth year.

In mid-October, the faculty association’s members made their support for potential strike action overwhelmingly clear with 85 per cent of the members voting to authorize such action. Negotiations continued, but with little progress being made, UMFA’s executive council called the association’s second strike in just over five years for Nov. 2.

In her tweet announcing the agreement’s ratification, Dingwall said, “It will be an abrupt transition back to a disrupted semester, but we will be there to support you in that transition and throughout the term.”