Our goal throughout the collective bargaining period is to ensure our students, our faculty and our staff continue to bring their unique voices to learning and discovery here at UM.
We will approach the negotiations pragmatically with the view to conclude a collective agreement that supports stability in operations; an outstanding educational experience for our students; fairness to our faculty members; and sustainability for our institution.
—Michael Benarroch, UM President and Vice-Chancellor
The number of unionized employee groups at the University of Manitoba, including UMFA.
The four-year agreement between the University and UMFA expired on March 31, 2021. The entire agreement including salary is open for renegotiation.
Bargaining between the University of Manitoba and UMFA commenced.
Negotiations continue towards a new collective agreement between the University of Manitoba and University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA). The university believes that collective bargaining is a foundation of good workplace relations while offering opportunity for mutual gains for employers and employees.
Below are brief updates on the topics discussed at each bargaining meeting.
Meeting #15 – Oct. 13, 2021 – UM makes new monetary proposal to UMFA
The University of Manitoba presented a revised monetary proposal, which will make faculty salaries more competitive within the U15 and regional landscape, while providing additional stability for students and staff.
The new proposal is a four-year contract with the following increases:
1% in Year 1,
1% in Year 2,
1.25% in Year 3, and
1.25% in Year 4.
UM is also proposing significant structural changes for Years 1 and 2, which will see most faculty receive larger increments over a longer period of time to enhance pay-scales for Year 1 and 2.
This new proposal aligns the salary maximums for assistant and associate professors with the 50th percentile of salaries paid within the U15; while professors will be aligned with the 25th percentile. This change will also make our salary schedules among the most competitive in the Manitoba/Saskatchewan region.
Meeting #14 – Oct. 7, 2021 – UM clarifies monetary proposal and both parties continue to work on wording of articles
UMFA kicked off the meeting with questions related to President Michael Benarroch’s statement at Senate, specifically about the UM’s proposal on salary increases. UM clarified its monetary proposal stating that the general salary increase plus proposed restructuring is within the mandate. The market stipends that are included in UM’s monetary proposal are not part of the mandate.
The bulk of the meeting was then spent discussing language in specific articles, including lengthy dialogue on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
There are two more meetings scheduled for the week of Oct. 11, and two the following week.
Meeting #13 – Oct. 6, 2021 – UM and UMFA dig into the language in articles within collective agreement
This meeting was largely focused on hammering out language in specific articles and proposals, including Intellectual Property and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Both the UM bargaining team and UMFA representatives acknowledged that while some progress is being made on certain articles, there is still some distance to cover before a new collective agreement is complete.
There is another meeting scheduled for this week and two in the following week.
Oct. 6, 2021 - UM President responds to bargaining questions at Senate meeting
President Michael Benarroch gave a statement in response to questions about the negotiations underway between the university and UMFA on a new collective agreement. The questions were related to the overall status of negotiations as well as some specifics on proposals being tabled by both parties. A summary of his response is below:
UM received questions at Senate related to current negotiations with UMFA. UM is subject to labour legislation and is limited to what can be publicly discussed. The responses are general statements in response to the questions.
The government has provided a mandate to the university, as it has done for many years for post-secondary institutions in the province.
UM shares the desire to have an institution that attracts the best and the brightest individuals to study here and remain here. UM is committed to making the university a great place to work and on trying to set us on a positive trajectory to be competitive with other U15 institutions.
UM is currently not able to catch up in one round of bargaining given that this was something that occurred over a series of rounds of bargaining. Benarroch stated that inflation was 7.9% from 2016 to 2020, and increases were 1.75%, so UM had fallen behind inflation by about 6%.
The university is attempting to improve salaries to the extent of its ability in this round of negotiations. To that end, the university has tabled an offer that has three separate parts, all aimed at improving the situation, including general salary increases, significant structural changes to the collective agreement, and market issues that we heard from several faculties. In addition to the general salary increase offer of 0.75%, 0.75%, and 1%, these structural changes include:
- increasing the floor and maximum salaries at the junior ranks by 4.5% to closely align with the 50th percentile of the U15 for these ranks;
- increasing the floor and maximum for the Associate Professor, Senior Instructor, Instructor II, Librarian, and Associate Librarian ranks by 7% so that the maximum at these ranks is closely aligned with the 50th percentile salary of the U15 for these ranks; and
- increasing the floor and maximum for the Professor rank by 7% so that the maximum is closely aligned with the 25th percentile salary of the U15.
This offer will benefit everyone in UMFA, with:
- 0.75%, 0.75% and 1.0% general salary increases making up 64% of the monetary offer over the 3-year term, and
- structural changes averaging an additional 0.47% per year and representing 36% of UM’s financial offer over three years. This will vary and be dependent on the number of people who are currently at the maximum step level getting steps after this change.
All of the funds are within these two numbers, and all are within the government mandate.
Benarroch heard from multiple faculties that market stipends are needed to remain competitive – to attract excellent faculty and to retain them. The proposal on market stipends aims to address the needs expressed by this group of faculties. However, UM has not allocated any funds within the mandate towards the market stipend proposal. The proposal increases the university’s ability to address problem areas but the focus has been to allocate funds to improve the salary situation.
Benarroch agreed that collective bargaining is a process best done between the teams at the table and it involves exchanging proposals. UM made a substantial move last Friday in the spirit of advancing bargaining in a positive direction. He felt that it should be seen as an indication that UM is serious about reaching a settlement at the table.
The university's proposal on outside professional activities, which was raised in one of the questions submitted to Senate, was withdrawn by the university. UM heard UMFA’s issues with outside professional activities and took it off the table. There was also agreement on items such as parental leave benefits being extended to both parents.
“I respect the bargaining process and have confidence in the bargaining teams. I hope the recent moves by the university are taken in the spirit that they were intended,” Benarroch said. “I believe that the university and the Faculty Association bargaining teams should and can continue to work towards finding a settlement for our university.”
Meeting #12 – Oct. 1, 2021 – Negotiations continue between UM and UMFA
UM presented details and clarified questions related to several articles within the collective agreement.
With respect to UMFA’s proposal on leaves, UM has agreed to provide parental leave top-up for both parents when they are both UMFA members. Based on feedback from UMFA, UM also withdrew its proposal on outside professional activities (OPA) and will continue to rely on deans to remind faculty members about their obligations to avoid and declare any conflicts of interest, ensure any OPA activities are not interfering with their UM duties, and to provide annual reports of their OPAs.
UM continues to wait for responses from UMFA on a number of items including:
- General definitions;
- Intellectual property (IP) and the ability for UM to own IP in exchange for course release on a voluntary basis; and
- Grievance procedures and UM’s proposal to update the agreement to reflect current practice.
Two more meetings are scheduled for the week of Oct. 4, and two for the following week.
Meeting #11 – Sept. 29, 2021 – UM’s financial position and UMFA’s monetary counter offer
UM responded to questions regarding UM’s overall financial position and on the market stipend information in the monetary proposal. UMFA provided a monetary counter proposal and advised that a special general meeting has been scheduled to acquire a strike vote from members.
Meeting #10 – Sept. 24, 2021 – Discussions continue on monetary counter offer
Discussions continued on the UM monetary counter offer. Read more about UM’s position on budget and monetary issues.
Meeting #9 – Sept. 22, 2021 – UM discusses financial picture and monetary proposal
Composite Financial Index
The university presented an overview of the Composite Financial Index, which uses four ratios to measure the financial performance and health of institutions. The index was developed in 1999 by Ron Salluzzo and included in the seventh edition of Strategic Financial Analysis for Higher Education released in 2010.
The University of Manitoba’s financial health has improved over the past seven years and it now meets the minimum threshold for financial health for universities. There aren’t excess resources and there are uncertainties about future revenues (tuition and grant funding) that require the university to continue to be prudent with its finances.
Monetary counter offer
The university offered a counter proposal on salaries that included proposed structural changes to pay scales to make salaries more competitive within U15 and regionally. This counter proposal also included increases in Floor and Maximum to specific ranks and increase to the pool for Market Stipends.
Meeting #8 - Sept. 17, 2021 – UM responds to proposal on childcare
The university stated its position that access to childcare programming should be equitable among all employees and students. Read UM’s position on childcare.
Meeting #7 - Sept. 15, 2021 – UM responds to parking proposals
As discussed in the August 5 and August 25 meetings, the university has tabled a proposal for UMFA members to pay the same rate as everyone else on campus. Faculty members currently pay $20 less per month for parking than students and other staff. Under the tabled proposal, UMFA members would pay the same as everyone else. In this meeting, the university explained that a portion of the parking fees be designated to support sustainable transportation initiatives such as the creation of more electric vehicle infrastructure, installing better shelters for bus stops, or a bike sharing program. Read more about UM’s position on parking.
Meeting #6 - Sept. 8, 2021 – UMFA presents monetary proposal
UMFA presented rationale to support its monetary proposal, and the university signaled that it will respond to that proposal on Sept. 22, 2021. Read more about UM’s position on budget and monetary issues.
Meeting #5 - Sept. 3, 2021 – UM presents on equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigenous engagement
The university provided explanation regarding on its proposed language changes to the Agreement to align with the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and Indigenous engagement. Read more about UM’s position on EDI.
Meeting #4 - Aug. 31, 2021 – UM presents on outside professional activities
The university’s proposed updates will help to clarify the practice without changing what has been allowed for many years and will help to prevent conflict of interest, perceived conflict of interest, conflict of commitment, and unintended risks for the faculty member and the university. Read more about UM’s position on outside professional activities.
Meeting #3 - Aug. 25, 2021 – UM presents on parking
The university responded to UMFA’s questions on several articles, including the university’s proposal on parking. Read more about UM’s position on parking.
Meeting #2 - Aug. 17, 2021 – UMFA seeks clarification
UMFA requested responses on the university’s full set of proposals.
Meeting #1 - Aug. 5, 2021 – UM tables full set of proposal
UM tables full set of proposal.
Read summaries of the university’s proposals on the following areas:
The university has proposed that there be no change to benefits as the current program is generous, and the university is able to obtain advantageous and low benefit premiums by maintaining all its employees in a single group. The negotiation of benefits with each individual union would likely result in increased administrative costs to manage individualized plans for each group and unfavourable premium rates due to the smaller groups.
Every year, the university’s contribution toward the benefits program increases, and is currently at approximately $16 million per year. Also, the university pension plan has been managed so as not to be vulnerable to the extent of other university pension plans; in 2008 after the economic crash, UM was able to fulfill its pension plan obligations and continues to make it a priority to maintain the long-term sustainability of our plan.
The University knows that there are recruitment and retention challenges and that salaries need to increase to address those challenges. It is important to know that we are mandated to deliver a balanced budget in accordance with provincial legislation.
The University’s provincial funding has been cut by $10 million over the last three years and we have limited flexibility on tuition rates and provincial increases to post-secondary funding. The Manitoba government has capped tuition increases at 3.75 percent for the year for 2021-2022, and we have received indications that tuition increases will be capped at a lower percentage going forward.
We did table an opening offer for wage increases that are affordable based on the current and future budget planning models.
UMFA has requested that 30 per cent of childcare spaces on campus be reserved for UMFA members and that its members receive early enrolment in Mini U programs ahead of students, other employees and the public.
At the Fort Garry campus, UM built a site for the Campus Children’s Centre, an independently owned and operated licensed daycare which provides spaces exclusively for UM staff and students. Students made a significant monetary contribution to this daycare and negotiated certain priorities as a result. UMFA was also offered an opportunity to contribute to the centre and attach their own conditions, however they declined.
So, while all UMFA members have access to quality daycare – they don’t have priority access or unlimited access. The childcare centre is an independent business.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigenous Engagement (EDI)
Both the University and UMFA have expressed commitment to adhering to EDI values in negotiations and to have them properly reflected in the language of the final agreement. In fact, UM President Michael Benarroch recently released the EDI Task Force Final Report, which reflects extensive study and consultation with the community including UMFA members, and which will guide the University’s path forward.
The University has proposed language changes to the Agreement, including:
- Removing binary gender language throughout the agreement
- Defining systemically disadvantaged and marginalized groups
- Broadening committee structure language to promote diverse committees
- A stated commitment to principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion
The University remains committed to advancing the principles of EDI and will continue to work with UMFA members on the processes and framework of how that looks.
Intellectual Property (IP)
UM has made three proposals on Intellectual Property (IP):
- Clarify that IP does not apply to administrative work
- Expand the current provision in the Collective Agreement to provide the university with the opportunity to acquire Intellectual Property through course release (in addition to the current provision for additional compensation)
- Allow the University to have a limited right to use laboratory manuals.
The proposed changes to allow a limited license for lab manuals will also allow for the safe and efficient use of materials across different classes and consistency between instructors who need students to perform the same experiments. UM’s proposal will also allow UMFA members a voluntary option to receive course teaching release as compensation for the University acquiring rights to use their intellectual property.
The University presented a revised monetary proposal to UMFA at the bargaining meeting on Oct. 13 that will make faculty salaries more competitive with peer universities and regional counterparts.
As Manitoba’s only research-intensive, medical-doctoral university, UM uses the U15 category as a peer comparison. The U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities is a collective of some of Canada's most research-intensive universities.
This new proposal aligns the salary maximums for assistant and associate professors with the 50th percentile of the U15; while professors will be aligned with the 25th percentile.
The new proposal is a four-year contract with the following general salary increases:
- 1% in Year 1
- 1% in Year 2
- 1.25% in Year 3
- 1.25% in Year 4
UM is also proposing significant structural changes for years 1 and 2, which will see most faculty receive larger increments over a longer period of time to enhance pay-scales.
Please download our Salary Calculator to see what the proposal will mean for you.
Outside Professional Activities
UM withdrew its proposal on outside professional activities (OPA) to reduce the outstanding issues at the table.
Currently, parking at the University is cheaper than using public transportation; however, the University’s focus is on investing in sustainable transportation for commuting to and from campus locations.
The University is looking at two ways to do this. One is to encourage and support environmentally responsible practices with equalizing parking fees, which could include a subsidized bus pass, bike sharing programs, electric vehicle infrastructure, and other bike path infrastructure. Also, staff choosing to drive and pay for a full monthly pass would have a portion of their parking fees allocated to a fund designated to support sustainable transportation initiatives, a priority area for the University’s goals on sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.
Currently, UMFA members pay the lowest parking rates compared to five Western Canadian Universities (BC, Calgary, Alberta, Regina and Saskatchewan). Under the University’s proposal, UMFA members would pay the same parking rates as students and other University staff.
Research metrics are quantitative tools used to help assess the quality and impact of scholarly work. The university believes that some quantitative measure should be used in assessment. In the past decade, there have been substantial discussions and advancements in responsible research assessment.
UM remains committed to a comprehensive evaluation of research, scholarly work and creative activities that includes an assessment of quality and quantity, as appropriate to the discipline.
About the bargaining process
How collective bargaining works
Collective bargaining is a negotiation process in which a group of workers represented by a union advocate for terms and conditions of their employment. The result of this negotiation is called a collective agreement, which is an employment contract that spells out things such as wages, employee benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.
The University believes that collective bargaining is a foundation of good workplace relations while offering opportunity for mutual gains for employers and employees.
Through collective bargaining, the University of Manitoba seeks agreements that are equitable, responsible, sustainable, and support excellence. If a tentative agreement is reached between the University of Manitoba and UMFA bargaining teams, the membership of the union will vote to accept or reject the offer.
Steps in the collective bargaining process
Generally, the steps are as follows:
Preparation for negotiation
Identification of issues for bargaining
Presentation of proposals by both parties
Negotiation between the bargaining teams
Presentation of the tentative agreement to the membership
Ratification of agreement
Implementation of agreement
The UM bargaining team
The members of the University of Manitoba bargaining team are:
Ken Maclean – Chief Negotiator (External to UM)
Dr. Doug Brown – Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology & Recreation Services
Lisa Halket – Director, Staff Relations
Dr. Edward Jurkowski – Dean, Faculty of Music & Acting Dean, School of Art
Dr. Krystyna Koczanski – Associate Dean Student Experience, Faculty of Science
Lisa O’Hara – University Librarian and Vice-Provost, Libraries
Jillian Pearse – Staff Relations Officer, Staff Relations
Dr. Tracey Peter – Vice-Provost, Academic Affairs
Maria Versace – Director, HR Governance and Legal Counsel
Frequently asked questions
Who is the University of Manitoba negotiating with currently?
The University of Manitoba is currently in the process of negotiating with the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA), which represents about 1,250 unionized faculty members. UMFA members are among the nearly 10,000 dedicated academic and support staff at the University of Manitoba.
What is the status of the negotiations between the University of Manitoba and UMFA?
The collective agreement expired in March 2021, opening the entire collective agreement for renegotiation. The parties started discussions in August 2021. The University of Manitoba, as the employer, is approaching the negotiations pragmatically with the view to reach a collective agreement that supports stability in operations, an outstanding educational experience for our students, agreements that are equitable across the University, and sustainability for our institution.
What is the University of the Manitoba’s position on compensation increases for faculty?
The University’s opening offer is for wage increases that are affordable and attempt to avoid a strike based on the current and future budget planning models.
How will the University community be kept informed of the status of the negotiations with UMFA?
As the official bargaining agent for its members, UMFA has the ability to determine, without restrictions, what it communicates to its members. This is why faculty members can expect to receive more frequent and more detailed updates from UMFA than from the University. Labour laws restrict what the University can communicate during bargaining in order not to compromise the process or be seen to be bargaining directly with the members. However, the University of Manitoba will commit to providing the entire university community with relevant information while bargaining . As information is available, we will share as much information as we can, and as promptly as possible.
What is the expected timeline?
While it is difficult to predict an exact timeline, both parties continue to meet on a regular basis. The University’s bargaining team hopes to use the time ahead productively to achieve the best outcomes for the university community.
Is a strike possible?
Most labour unions, including UMFA, have the right to strike, and we respect their right to do so. As a result, a strike is always a possibility in the process of bargaining for a revised collective agreement. It’s safe to say that nobody wants a strike. We sincerely believe that our faculty do not want student learning compromised in any way. We will do what we can to avoid a disruption to student learning and progress, while working to best address the needs of the entire university community.
When can a strike or lockout action be initiated?
After a collective agreement expires, a union can legally initiate strike or an employer can take lockout action. For the union to go on strike, a strike vote must be taken, and a majority of those voting must agree to the strike. A vote in favour of a strike does not oblige a bargaining agent to declare a strike.
If there is an impasse, how can it be resolved?
If the University of Manitoba and UMFA cannot agree on the terms of a collective agreement, either party may request the Manitoba Labour Board to assign a private sector conciliator or mediator to try and assist them in reaching an agreement. Ultimately, an impasse can lead to a work stoppage, following several mandated steps as set out in the legislation that governs collective bargaining and strike/lockout processes.
What should students/faculty/staff know about the potential for a work stoppage during the 2021-2022 academic year?
The University of Manitoba is approaching the negotiations pragmatically with the view to reach a collective agreement without a work stoppage. The University is committed to keeping all stakeholders informed during the collective bargaining process. Please check back on this website for updates.