The Canadian Federation of Students Ontario is in solidarity with the 1,240 full-time professors, librarians, lecturers, and instructors at the University of Manitoba on strike, represented by the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA).
Students recognize that their learning conditions are the faculty’s working conditions, and specifically, Students Supporting UMFA have been leading and unwavering in their support of faculty and staff throughout negotiations. Students Supporting UMFA is a grassroots, interdisciplinary student collective at the University of Manitoba, located on Treaty 1 Territory. Canadian Federation of Students Manitoba (CFSMB) has been working in coalition with Students Supporting UMFA as have other stakeholders and student groups across the province.
Colleges and universities are fundamental to the well-being and prosperity of our communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the post-secondary experience for students and faculty, with an increased pressure to achieve more with less during a crisis. Students recognize the importance of good labour practices and its impact on their learning conditions. Throughout the pandemic, faculty have supported students with the transition to online learning and the many issues that students have experienced due to COVID-19. The University of Manitoba administration and the provincial government have expected faculty to do more with less support and less funding all while the university posts large surpluses.
Faculty have also been impacted by the continuous underfunding of education across the country. Chronic underfunding of education and the lack of investments in quality education has led to an increased reliance on tuition fees for students and low-wages for faculty. Escalating tuition costs undermine access for low-income and equity-seeking students, including those who are disabled, racialized, first-generation, and students with dependents. In order for post-secondary institutions to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and decades of underfunding of post-secondary education, the government must provide a robust plan to fund the post-secondary education sector permanently.
Students in Ontario ask the president of the University of Manitoba to bargain in good faith with UMFA. UofM Faculty have the second-lowest average faculty salaries among U15 universities, which disadvantages their ability to stay in the province to teach, supervise students and conduct research. Despite UofM reporting a $94 million dollar surplus last year, the proposed salary increases from the UofManitoba administration are lower than inflation, resulting in a loss to wages. It is important that workers are compensated fairly.
We urge the province of Manitoba to make a commitment to restore sustainable funding for colleges and universities, and respect free and fair bargaining between the University of Manitoba and UMFA. In an effort to maintain fairness for workers, and ensure high quality education in Manitoba, the province must lift the unethical wage mandate to allow for fair bargaining without interference. We once again acknowledge the efforts of Students Supporting UMFA, the Canadian Federation of Students Manitoba, the many student groups, and various stakeholders on the ground who stand in solidarity with faculty from the University of Manitoba during these challenging times.
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the oldest and largest student organization in Ontario, representing over 350,000 college and university students in every region of the province.