Labour Board hears testimony in ongoing unfair labour practice hearing
The Manitoba Labour Board heard further testimony Friday in an unfair labour practice charge brought against the University of Manitoba by the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) during last fall’s strike.
When UMFA brought forward the claim, the U of M issued a statement.
“The University believes it has acted in good faith in its collective bargaining with UMFA,” said the U of M.
On Friday, UMFA lawyer Garth Smorang cross-examined the U of M’s Gregory Juliano, associate vice-president of human resources.
Under questioning, Juliano said he learned in an Oct. 6, 2016 meeting with provincial officials that the Treasury Board and Public Sector Compensation Committee of Cabinet would be requesting a “wage pause” for at least a year in the public sector.
Juliano said that provincial officials expressed concerns a one per cent increase in public sector wages could cost the government as much as $100 million, and the government was concerned larger unions would see increases for smaller unions, such as UMFA, as precedent-setting.
Under questioning from Smorang, Juliano said the province suggested the university frame the zero per cent for faculty salaries as a request for a “pause” on wage increases for a year. The university’s September 2016 offer to UMFA included increases over four years, totalling seven per cent.
Smorang questioned Juliano on why the university waited three weeks to inform UMFA of the zero per cent directive from the province. Juliano said university officials had been repeatedly endeavouring to convince provincial officials to retract the zero per cent directive.
“We lobbied the government until the very end,” said Juliano, adding U of M President David Barnard met with the province and also sent a letter urging the government to reconsider the decision.