On Campus

Tiny raise for UManitoba profs

And no labour unrest

Faculty at the University of Manitoba recently ratified their collective agreement with the university that provides a 4.4 per cent raise over the next three years.

This is quite a tiny increase, compared to the 2007 agreement that saw salaries for academic staff rise 2.5 per cent in the first and second year and a 2.9 per cent in the third year, a deal reached only after narrowly avoiding a strike. Considering the professors held a strike that lasted four days in 2001, and another that lasted 23 days in 1995, it’s surprising this round of negotiations resolved itself without any major problems. At least, not that we know about yet.

Members of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA), which represents approximately 1 ,700 professors, lecturers, librarians, and instructors, will receive a $500 lump sum pay increase in the first year, a one per cent increase in the second year, and a 2.9 percent increase in the third.

The seemingly problem-free negotiations by far contrasts the contract negotiations this year between the university and security services officers, which came to a complete breakdown over the summer.

The university had been in talks with Security Services for a year. When these negotiations stalled in early August, the university presented the small membership of 27 employees with what they called their final offer, along with the threat of a lock out if they voted not to take it. When officers voted not to accept, the threat proved not to be an empty one, and the officers were barred from campus .

While the lock out only lasted a few days and happened during a time when the campus was relatively quiet, it was still a scary time for students and staff who didn’t know who was patrolling the campus or when (if ever) these officers were coming back.

As UMFA president Cameron Morrill put it in the Winnipeg Free Press, this is unfortunately just a sign of the times at the university which has been facing $36.4 million budget shortfall for 2010. When U of M president David Barnard first annouced the shortfall last fall, the campus was filled with rumours and uncertainty over what would befall the university. Aside from announcing some “resource optimization” measures and tuition fee increases, administrators have mostly left staff and students in the dark.

The results of these budget constraints are starting to come to light with each labour relations issue that arises. Considering the majority of  university’s budget is comprised of salaries and benefits for faculty and staff, there’s no doubt that the relatively small increase for faculty members is a reflection of the U of M’s current money woes, and  judging by preliminary data from Statistics Canada, still leaves the U of M far behind many universities across the country in terms of professor pay.

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