Open Letter to Students

Dear UM students,

We know you are worried about the strike. It’s a disruption for you, and has created difficulty and confusion for many of you. This makes us truly grateful for all the amazing support we’ve received from student groups, as well as individual students. Every student who has attended a rally, walked on a picket line, or shared some of the amazing memes on social media, has had a huge impact on our efforts, and we want you to know that we are truly grateful for your contributions to UMFA members.  Getting back on track after this will be hard work, but we will do it together.

We didn’t want to go on strike. We felt that this was the only option available for us to stand up for ourselves and insist that we be treated fairly by our employer. 

As part of the process of bargaining a new contract, UMFA’s professors, instructors, and librarians, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if necessary. Why? Because of how concerned we are about issues covered by our contract that are negatively affecting our university. We are trying to solve these issues by:

  • earning salaries that will allow the University of Manitoba to attract and retain excellent teachers and researchers (because we believe in creating a thriving educational and research environment for all of you)
  • requiring consent from the faculty member or instructor for courses to be taught online (because we believe that while some courses can be taught remotely, we also know that some don’t belong online, and as your teachers, we have a responsibility to make sure that your courses are delivered in the best possible way)
  • ensuring members aren’t teaching every single term for years on end without a break. We need time without work, time to do research, and time to update our knowledge and course materials.  

We believe that achieving these goals for UMFA members will also be good for students – because when we have good teaching and research conditions, you have good learning conditions.

We were forced to strike because the UM administration, our employer, didn’t make an acceptable contract offer, largely because of continued interference by the provincial government. The government was not solely responsible for the original unacceptable offer – we doubt the government has strong opinions on whether or not an individual faculty member teaches online, or if instructors in nursing, education, dentistry, engineering, and other faculties burn out from teaching all year, every year.

Now the administration says it’s willing to have the unresolved issues settled by an arbitrator, which would end the strike. UMFA is open to arbitration, though we need to make sure that the arbitration process wouldn’t be stacked against us, which it would be unless the administration agrees to a number of conditions, including settling non-monetary items through negotiations. Arbitration is an acceptable way to settle our differences on compensation, but not on terms of our contract that influence our working conditions.

The university’s administration is able to send their communications to all students. For UMFA’s perspective, you can find us on Twitter @UMFA_FAUM, Instagram @umfa_faum, and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/UofMFacultyAssociation

Students have significant influence when you act in large numbers! If you’d like to help the strike end with a fair deal for UMFA members, there are things you can do. Please:

  • Email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or phone (204) 474-9345 President Benarroch and tell him that you’d like him to offer UMFA a fair deal.
  • Join a picket line! Monday to Friday, 7:15 AM – 4 PM pickets at Bannatyne and Fort Garry Campuses, or from 7:15 AM – 2 PM at the Legislature steps. There are ALWAYS donuts!
  • Get involved with Students Supporting UMFA: @supportingumfa on Twitter, @studentssupportingumfa on Instagram, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and website at https://www.ssumfa.ca/.

Since we don’t have the ability to email all UM students the way the administration does, we would appreciate it if you’d share this message with other students.

Sincerely,

UMFA’s Executive Council