This letter was sent to the email address for our members as provided by the University of Manitoba. If you did not receive this email and you are a member of CUPE 3909. Please contact us immediately.
As most of you are already aware, there is a very strong possibility that the Faculty Union (UMFA) will be on strike at the University of Manitoba in the next few weeks. The Union has been bargaining with the University since last spring and the parties have been unable to reach an agreement. The University has tabled proposals that not only compromise the members’ jobs and tenure but also cut to the very heart of academic freedom. This strike is not about money! It is about defending their membership against a systemic change that will have a severe and adverse effect on the faculty and the University.
UMFA has taken a strike vote and received a strong mandate from their membership to strike. Concurrently, the University applied for conciliation. Under Manitoba Labour Law, if negotiations break down and one of the parties to collective bargaining applies to the government to appoint a conciliation officer, the government has the right to make such an appointment and to require the parties to meet in conciliation in an effort to bring about an agreement.
Where does this leave the CUPE 3909 members if there is a strike and a picket line?
First of all, it should be made clear that as a Union we support UMFA in their struggle to obtain a fair collective agreement for their members.
What does this mean in a practical sense?
The Executive of CUPE 3909 will meet with UMFA to find out what they would like us to do to assist them and to demonstrate our support. We will also convene a meeting of the other Unions on campus (CAW -now Unifor, AESES, CUPE 1482) in an effort to have a collective response to the strike. We will keep the membership informed of the outcome of these meetings.
What does this mean for you as a member who may be facing a picket line?
CUPE 3909 hopes to demonstrate our support for the strike in the strongest manner possible. We are hoping that our discussions with UMFA and the other Unions bring some effective strategies to the fore.
However, we would be remiss in our responsibilities as your Executive if we did not properly inform you of the legal restrictions which we may face. While the Labour Law in Manitoba does protect an employee who refuses to take on extra work that would normally be done by striking employees, it does not provide the same protection to employees who refuse to cross a picket line. This means that we could be deemed to be in violation of our employment contract if we fail to go to work and do our jobs. This is a problem.
We are looking into various alternatives and solutions to this problem and will keep you updated on the situation. We will provide you with leadership and advice on a timely basis.
In Solidarity, the Executive Board of CUPE 3909