UMFA files grievance over Lukacs case

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) has filed a grievance with the University of Manitoba over the suspension of math professor Gabor Lukacs.

A copy of the grievance form obtained by the Manitoban states that the union feels Lukacs was treated “unreasonably, unfairly and in a manner contrary to the Collective Agreement” by the university.

UMFA, among other demands, is asking that the decision to suspend Lukacs without pay be rescinded and that he be financially compensated for all financial losses.

“I’m very grateful for all the time that they’re putting into this,” said Lukacs.

“UMFA has written an outstanding grievance that puts the university in its place.”

Lukacs was suspended after filing an application for judicial review, which protested the decision made by the dean of graduate studies, Jay Doering, to award a student a PhD without completing a comprehensive exam, normally a requirement necessary to graduate.

The university has argued that Lukacs violated the student’s privacy by including the student’s name in the application and therefore warranted a suspension.

UMFA president Cameron Morrill confirmed that the union had filed a grievance against the disciplinary actions that have been levelled against Lukacs, but could not comment directly on an ongoing personnel matter.

However, Morrill explained that UMFA would usually grieve something as serious as a suspension levelled against a faculty member.

“I don’t know if its an automatic thing that we do, but it’s such a harsh thing that we usually try to find some other way to resolve the issue aside from some sort of formal discipline,” said Morrill.

Morrill only knew of two other cases where a faculty member had been suspended by the university and said that UMFA has filed grievances against both cases as well.

U of M director of Public Affairs John Danakas explained that numerous grievance cases from university staff unions come forward throughout any given year and are dealt with in a step-by-step process.

“Initially there are meetings to discuss the matter and attempt to resolve it. If those meetings aren’t successful in coming up with some sort of resolution, then there is always the possibility of arbitration,” said Danakas.

He explained that the time it takes to resolve such a dispute depends on the nature of the case, although they can be costly to the university.

“Dealing with these matters can sometimes divert staff resources from other priorities,” said Danakas.

Lukacs is anticipating the matter will proceed to arbitration.

“I don’t expect any miracles in terms of the university listening to it but [ . . . ] hopefully it will go very soon to binding arbitration, and the arbitrator is certainly going to listen to it. That’s what really matters.”