UMFA bargaining Q&A with chief negotiator
Gregory Juliano provides an update on negotiations
The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) and the University of Manitoba have been engaged in full-scale contract negotiations since May 25, 2016. The most recent collective agreement, which lasted three years, expired March 31, 2016.
The University of Manitoba’s chief negotiator is Gregory Juliano, associate vice-president (human resources). UM Today spoke with Mr. Juliano before the negotiations began, and we are checking in with him again after a summer of meetings between the two parties.
How many times have the bargaining teams met?
Since May, the full bargaining teams have met 20 times, in addition to a handful of smaller related meetings and communications through letters, phone calls and emails.
How have the meetings proceeded?
This year, we began our discussions earlier than we have in the past because we wanted to negotiate a successful agreement before the beginning of the fall term. The U of M has made attempts to achieve this timeline, but it could not be reached. Even so, I can say that the discussions have progressed positively and we remain hopeful that we will be able to achieve a negotiated agreement in a timely fashion. One of our main bargaining principles is to provide stability for students and their learning.
We created and followed a comprehensive schedule of topics and have now had an opportunity to discuss with UMFA the complete set of issues in this round of bargaining. We are currently exchanging revised proposals, and are hopeful that the ones we receive next will be responsive to our discussions.
What are some of the bargaining topics?
We have discussed issues like salaries, the compensation model and benefits, working conditions and overall budget allocations. I can’t provide specific commentary on the conversations which have been occurring because our bargaining team would like to allow both teams the opportunity to explore solutions and compromises at the table.
The list of topics is long, and the matters being discussed are complex. They often involve many interdependencies, and for this reason it is important to the University that we emphasize the need for an overall agreement which supports faculty members and helps move the University towards its strategic goals.
Last month, the University of Winnipeg settled with their faculty association. How does this impact the U of M?
Yes, we were interested to learn that the U of W’s faculty association accepted a salary offer, resulting in a 4.5 year collective agreement with no substantive bargaining meetings. The agreement provides for a total 7.5% increase to faculty salaries over that term, with most years seeing a general increase of 1.5%. We were also impressed with the commitment of the faculty at U of W to work collaboratively with the administration to address issues of concern throughout the term of the agreement, and not just in formal bargaining.
In March, the U of M made a similar salary offer of a 1.5% salary increase plus additional salary adjustments for one year. That offer and the attempt to expedite a timely resolution were rejected.
What are the next steps?
We are currently exchanging revised proposals and we will examine them thoroughly, and try to negotiate any additional revisions we feel are necessary. We are pleased that the sides have established and are committed to an ambitious meeting schedule in order to come to a successful agreement as soon as possible.
How hopeful are you this will be resolved without impact on students?
I truly believe both bargaining teams want to provide stability to our students and appropriately support the core mission of teaching, research and service. In the bargaining room, there are obviously differences of opinion which could impact the success of the negotiation, but both sides have demonstrated a genuine commitment to try and understand one another, and be responsive to each other’s concerns. For this reason, I think there is some reason for optimism.
I know the University of Manitoba is committed to taking the appropriate steps to reach a timely settlement. The early salary offer was made in that spirit. We want to see a settlement achieved that will satisfy faculty and that will be completed in a timely fashion so that students are not negatively impacted.
If you have any questions or feedback, contact human resources.