our History

Brandon University photograph collection (BUPC 2.1.51), SJ McKee Archives, Brandon University


Concise History (1957-1998)

by Errol Black

BUFA was formed in 1957 as an academic organization with its primary aim the entrenchment and protection of academic freedom.

In subsequent years, BUFA became more involved in promoting the economic, social and general interests of its members. This process culminated in 1971 when BUFA obtained voluntary recognition as bargaining agent for its members from the University. The relationships between the Faculty and the University were governed by the “Faculty – Administration Brief” (the precursor to the present Collective Agreement).

A dispute arose between BUFA and the University in 1976 when BUFA requested that Instructional Associates be included in the bargaining unit and that the University deduct union dues. The University rejected BUFA’s request. BUFA applied to the Manitoba Labour Board for resolution of the dispute. A Board hearing was held in Brandon on May 31, 1977.

At this hearing the Labour Board determined that, since the University had rejected BUFA’s contention that it was a union, it would first have to answer the question: Is BUFA a union? In a decision dated June 16, 1977, the Board ruled “that BUFA is not a union; that following therefrom the faculty administration brief is not a collective agreement.”

Following this ruling, BUFA launched a certification drive in September 1977. Application for certification was filed with the Labour Board October 17, 1977. In anticipation of a favorable certification ruling, Dennis Oleson and Gerald Neufeld collected existing collective agreements from other universities across Canada. They attempted to incorporate the best features from the old Faculty – Administration Brief and these other agreements into the first draft of the proposed collective agreement.

Certification was confirmed January 1978. The bargaining unit defined in the Certificate included:

  • All full-time and part-time members of the academic, instructional, and related staff at Brandon University, including laboratory instructors, cartographers, counsellors, professional librarians, continuing education specialists, and all other staff directly related to the teaching process.
  • It also included sessional instructors.

Since certification in 1978 BUFA has attempted to function as a principled and effective union. These efforts have included:

  • Establishing links with other unions and progressive organizations in the community. Since 1978, BUFA has had observer status with the Brandon and District Labour Council and participated in many solidarity pickets with workers from other unions involved in strikes and/or protests.
  • Participating in the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations.
  • Vigorously pursuing member and union grievances through to arbitration. Many of the grievances which we have taken to arbitration and won have established important precedents.
  • Advancing the rights and interests of members at the bargaining table.
  • Promoting and protecting academic freedom.