Manitoba’s labour minister has ordered striking professors to vote on the latest contract offer from Brandon University’s administrators. A strike at the small prairie school has killed classes for six weeks now. If a majority vote “yes,” professors will go back to work almost immediately.
“I have reviewed the circumstances of the dispute and the negative effect of the work stoppage on the students of Brandon University and the city of Brandon,” Labour Minister Jennifer Howard wrote in a letter to university president Deborah Poff and BUFA president Joe Dolecki yesterday. “I am of the opinion that a vote of the employees in (BUFA) to accept or reject the last offer of the employer, respecting all matters remaining in dispute between the parties, is in the public interest.”
The vote is expected later this week. The parties were close to a deal last week. The university offered raises of nine per cent raise over four years, plus an $1,800 back-to-work bonus. BUFA wants 10 per cent over four years, plus $3,000 for each member who goes back to work.
The reason Brandon professors have gone on strike for the second time in three years is that they feel they’re underpaid. Associate professors average $89,000, which is less than the $106,000 nationwide. Still, salaries are very similar to those paid at similar small schools like Nipissing University in North Bay, Ont.