Faculty strike narrowly avoided

With 30 minutes to spare, UWFA executives agree to vote on proposal

With only 30 minutes to spare before the University of Winnipeg Faculty Association (UWFA)’s strike deadline, the UWFA strike was called off.

A proposal from the U of W administration was brought to the UWFA executives late last night, where they decided to bring the proposal to their members and hold a vote whether to accept it.

The UWFA has been without a collective agreement for a year, and has been bargaining with the U of W administration ever since.

Yesterday was the first day that a provincial conciliator and new chief negotiator for the UWFA worked together. The deadline had been pushed back 24 hours to Thursday at 12:01 a.m. to allow the conciliator to gather information.

“I don’t think it hurts when you have an opportunity to bring some new voices in,” said Shannon Sampert, the UWFA’s media spokesperson.

We have to have a good deal in order for us to say the strike is off… we had 285 people waiting to strike at 8 a.m. We don’t do these kinds of things lightly.

Shannon Sampert, UWFA media spokesperson

Over the weekend Wendy Josephson, chief negotiator for the UWFA, stepped down, allowing Peter Simpson from the Canadian Association of University Teachers to take her place.

Sampert has a positive outlook on the new proposal.

“We have to have a good deal in order for us to say the strike is off… we had 285 people waiting to strike at 8 a.m. We don’t do these kinds of things lightly. The idea that we got something we actually felt was good enough to call of the strike says it all,” said Sampert.

The main concern for the UWFA has been wages. The U of W is the lowest paid university in Manitoba, and one of the lowest in the country.

A meeting will be held Friday, March 11 at 12:30 p.m. for UWFA members to discuss the administration’s proposal. A vote will take place until 8:00 p.m., with the results available at 10:00 p.m.

The UWFA has twice voted against proposals offered by administration. If they vote the same way tomorrow, both sides could be back at the drawing board.

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