April 29 update: To UMFA Members: LOU tenure application extension

Hi everyone,

This is a brief update on matters relating to the closure of campus and changes to the Winter and summer semester, and of specific interest to probationary (tenure track) members.

UMFA and UM administration have arrived at an agreement on the important issue of the effect of COVID-19 on members holding tenure track appointments, particularly those whose tenure applications are due July 15, 2020

  1. Members currently holding tenure-track appointments shall have their maximum untenured period extended by 12 months.
  1. There shall be no increased expectations of performance for the period of extension; for clarity, this means that the applicant for tenure shall be expected to meet the same criteria and have achieved the same level of competence as a Member who has completed his/her maximum untenured period regardless of the number of years of probation served.
  1. No Member shall be required to apply for tenure in 2020.

If you intended to apply for tenure in 2020 and still wish to do so, you may.  It will be treated as an early tenure application as described in Section 19.C.4.4.1 in the UMFA collective agreement available here:

http://umfa.ca/images/pdfs/CA-Articles-2017-2021/Article19.pdf

We are still in discussion with the administration regarding other important matters related to COVID-19, such as:

  • Allowing Members on RSL that have been negatively affected by the pandemic to return from leave and have their unused RSL credits returned to them;
  • Allowing instructors and Librarians holding probationary appointments to elect to increase their probationary period by 12 months;
  • A 12 month automatic renewal of term appointments that end between April 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020;
  • Ensuring members receive necessary institutional, technical and logistical support;
  • Ensuring that the effects of information technology and alternative teaching are taken into account on performance evaluations and career review processes realted to the 2020 calendar year;
  • Compensation and/or credit relief for members teaching in summer, and assurances that enrolments will be not increased nor that existing online courses be substituted for cancelled in-person courses;
  • Rollovers of travel and expense funds and vacation days that members are unable to use, and extensions of start-up funds;
  • Refunds of parking fees;
  • Various health and safety provisions;
  • Access to additional special leave days for members affected by COVID-19 such as caring for family members; and
  • Ability for members who have declared their intention to retire between March 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021 to rescind their declaration.

We have requested a meeting with administration to discuss these important matters, and are awaiting a reply.

Best wishes,
Janet Morrill, UMFA President

April 20 update: UMFA, COVID-19, and Collective Agreement Rights

You have likely read the news detailing the Pallister government proposals to impose wage cuts on the public sector, with an example of two day work weeks from April to September.  You have also seen the messages from President Barnard which provide little detail of how, or what, those cuts will mean to UMFA and other members of the UM workforce.

Leaders of the campus unions met with members of administration on Friday.  We were informed that the government asked the administration to find ways to reduce approximately 10% of the UM’s full annual budgeted payroll, through savings in wages and other discretionary expenditures.  The amount will likely be held back from its current year operating grant, and the plan must be approved by the government.  Details of the plan are due tomorrow.

There are many failures in the government approach.  The first is that in times like this, austerity is a disastrous measure.  I encourage you to read the editorial below by Shiu-Yik Au, one of our members in the department of Accounting and Finance. He argues that like the governments of Ontario and Quebec, Manitoba should be spending rather than cutting: 

Link: ”Austerity is the Wrong Path for Manitoba during coronavirus pandemic”

Secondly, the government’s approach is the latest in a string of measures that violate the autonomy of the university, and hence the academic freedom and ability of the university to fulfill its mission.  If the goal is to divert money from our operating grant to other public sector priorities, the university would be able to find far better ways to accomplish this with less harm to the institution that choosing amongst the measures that the government is requiring. 

What are those measures?  The administration has committed to working within collective agreements.  The measures that affect UMFA members will be not filling vacancies whose funding was included in the current year operating budget.   Many units have reported that searches that were ongoing have been terminated.  We do not know if offers that were made and accepted have been rescinded.  We hope not.  The administration is also requesting UMFA allow the administration to offer the vacation purchase program to its members, as is currently available to other employees.  UMFA did not agree to the program when it was adopted by the other unions as there were many complications that impact the terms and conditions negotiated into our Collective Agreement. These include, but are not limited to, maximum untenured periods, length of probationary periods for librarians and instructors, and eligibility for maternity and parental leave.  We are open to discussions with the administration, however, and have communicated that to them.

This is related to the third fatal shortcoming in the government approach.  While they want the measures to be based on consultation between unions and management, a seven day timeline to arrive at such plans is clearly impossible and cannot lead to good decisions, or even the best decisions that can be made given exigent circumstances. 

We’ve received many comments from many Members, each concerned with the future of the university and the workers that make the UM what it is. In many ways this is a province-wide discussion on the future of Post-Secondary Education, and we’re working with the CAUT and through the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations (MOFA) to get our message across. Each of us has a role: everyone is represented by an MLA, a Premier, and a Cabinet. I strongly encourage each of you to exercise your academic freedom and contact the Premier, the Minister of Economic Development and Training, and your local MLA to let them know how you feel about what the government is proposing. Contact information is below.

The Executive Council has been meeting over the weekend to work through these issues, and the Board of Representatives is meeting tomorrow afternoon. We will keep you informed of developments.

Yours,
Janet Morrill, UMFA President
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Contact Information:

Premier Brian Pallister
Phone – 204-945-3714
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204 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8

Constituency Office:
Unit 143-99 Scurfield Blvd.
Winnipeg, MB R3Y 1Y1
Phone: (204) 489-0828
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training
Office:
Room 358 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Phone: (204) 945-0067
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Constituency Office:
Box 1845, 319 Main Street
Stonewall, MB R0C 2Z0
Phone: (204) 467-9482
Fax: (204) 467-7580
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

List of MLAs with contact information:

https://www.gov.mb.ca/legislature/members/mla_list_constituency.html

Wab Kinew, Leader of the Official Opposition (NDP)

Office:
Room 172 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Phone: (204) 945-3284
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Constituency Office:
105-11 Evergreen Pl, Winnipeg, R3L 2T9
Phone: 204-615-1922
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba

Office:
Room 169 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Phone: (204) 945-6276
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Constituency Office:
118 Marion Street
Winnipeg, MB R2H 0T1
Phone: (204) 792-8806
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UMFA - COVID-19 and Collective Agreement Rights (April 15, 2020)

Hi everyone,

I’m following up on my message from yesterday, in which I briefly addressed the Government’s directive that public sector employers develop plans to reduce labour costs. We’ve received a lot of messages since then – thank you!

Your employment at the UM is governed by the Collective Agreement, the current iteration of which expires in the spring of 2021. Our Agreement includes protections against salary reductions, reduction of duties, and lay-offs. Laying-off Members for financial reasons is particularly difficult, as the administration must invoke Article 28 of the CA (which comprises some 15 pages of rules and timelines), and it can only be applied when the University is in financial crisis. The University is in no such crisis, and the administration is not free to simply alter terms and conditions of employment that have been enshrined in collective agreements.

We will protect these Collective Agreement rights in response to any proposal the administration might make in response to the Provincial Government’s directive.

The Executive will soon be calling a meeting of UMFA’s Board of Representatives, with the hopes it can take place early next week. To inform our discussion at that meeting contact your Reps with questions and comments. Your reps are listed here: http://umfa.ca/images/pdfs/UMFA_BoR_2019-2020.pdf

As always, contact me and the UMFA office, too, with your comments, questions, and concerns: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 204.474.8272

Janet Morrill
UMFA President

UMFA President's message to Members re: public sector workers (April 14, 2020)

To all members:

The provincial government announced today that they are proposing a shortened work week for public sector workers who are not on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.  See:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-pallister-covid-19-update-1.5531580

The provincial government proposes that over the next four months, public sector workers have their work week reduced to two days per week, and collect employment insurance for other three days.

Our information comes from a webinar held this afternoon by the provincial government for Manitoba Federation of Labour members.  University of Manitoba is an “ORE”, short for other reporting entity, and as such is included in this directive.  

However, we do not yet know how the directives will apply to post-secondary institutions as the provincial operating grant accounts for only fifty-two percent of our general revenues, and a reduction in our work week would presumably reduce tuition revenues.  We also do not yet know how, or whether, UMFA members will be affected.  We will keep you informed once we receive details from UM administration.

Janet Morrill
UMFA president


UMFA President's message to Members (March 19, 2020)

Hello everyone,

Needless to say, these are turbulent times.  I hope all of you, and your families and loved ones, are safe and healthy. 

The pace required to adapt to changing circumstances is unprecedented — many of you are having to find alternate means to deliver our courses, labs, and myriad other forms of instruction with only a few days’ notice. While many are being pressured to put their lectures online, it’s important to note what was expressed in Senate by the Provost on Monday: the changes you make should be done using your best professional judgement. Otherwise put, you have the academic freedom to modify your instruction as necessary. Read more


Letters to Administration:

UMFA letter to Darlene Smith, Associate Vice-President (Human Resources) RE: The Collective Agreement, COVID-19, and Public Health and Safety

UMFA letter to Lisa Halket, Director, Staff Relations RE: The Collective Agreement, COVID-19, and Public Health and Safety


For updates from the Administration, follow this link: http://umanitoba.ca/coronavirus

 

Here are some essential facts about the Collective Agreement for new members.  Read more in the UMFA New Hires Fact Sheet.

New Hires Fact Sheet 1

UMFA compiles a daily list of articles featuring labour and education issues in the news. 

To see the latest, click here: http://www.umfa.ca/news/labour-and-education-in-the-news