UMFA ends 35-day strike; classes to resume at U of M

(Josh Crabb/CTV News)

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) has ended its 35-day strike after ratifying the tentative agreement.

In a news release issued on Tuesday morning, the union said students and faculty will be heading back to class this morning.

According to UMFA, the new agreement improves maternity and parental leave benefits, and establishes a family resource position. Compensation will be determined through binding arbitration, which will ignore government mandates.

Orvie Dingwall, UMFA president, said in a news release that the union members were on strike in order to improve working and learning conditions.

“This agreement will improve equity for the lowest paid and most precarious UMFA members, while also ensuring that we can recruit and retain professors, instructors, and librarians at the University of Manitoba,” she said.

UMFA noted that 969 of its 1,264 members voted in the ratification vote, with 881 voting in favour and 88 opposed.

In a statement, Michael Benarroch, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba (U of M), said the work of the school’s faculty members is important, as it improves health outcomes for people around the world; drives Manitoba’s economic, social and cultural success; and supports the education of U of M students.

He noted the strike was a challenging time for the community.

“I regret the impact of the labour disruption on our students and recognize there is a great deal of work ahead in setting the academic year back on course,” Benarroch said.

“We now have an opportunity to learn from this experience and recommit to the exceptional work and learning environment to which we all aspire.”

Benarroch said the path forward won’t be easy.

“As we move forward, we must commit to communicate openly, listen to one other, and engage in respectful dialogue to better address the challenges before us,” he said.

“I think it is important to reflect on our negotiation process and ensure that our approach to bargaining is meeting our shared needs.”

He said the university is focused on welcoming everyone back and making sure the community is supported through the transition.