Rally for striking UMFA workers draws crowd of picketers

WINNIPEG –

A large crowd rallied in support of striking faculty members at the University of Manitoba on Friday.

The rally comes after the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) proposed a three-year agreement to administration Thursday with wage gains of two per cent for the first two years, followed by 2.5 per cent in the third.

“The offer that we proposed to administration is fair,” said UMFA President Orvie Dingwall. “We’re ranked 14 out of 15 of salaries across competitive universities in the country. We’re not looking to launch into first place, we’re just looking to not fall further behind.”

The university administration’s latest two-year offer included yearly salary increases of 1.25 and 1.5 per cent. However, the president and vice chancellor of the U of M said the offer includes salary structure changes that would see salaries increase by 9.5 per cent over that two-year period.

On Friday, Dingwall said UMFA sent a letter to Premier Heather Stefanson asking for help ending the strike. She believes there is a provincial mandate affecting wage offers by the university.

“We said, ‘you can end this strike.’ We actually told her ‘you can prevent this strike. You remove that mandate, you let the university administration bargain freely with the union and we can get these students back into class,’” said DIngwall.

At issue, according to the union, is the recruitment and retention of faculty made difficult by low wages.

The UMFA has been on the picket line since Tuesday.

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