Lockout at Welcome Place Ends

Staff at Welcome Place (Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council) are returning to work after nearly three months being locked out by their employer.


“CUPE 2348 members at Welcome Place stood their ground and refused to accept concessions that would decimate their Collective Agreement,” says Vivienne Ho, President of CUPE Local 2348. “The actions that staff at Welcome Place took are inspiring and shows that workers will not back down when facing unacceptable attacks on their livelihoods”.


CUPE filed a request to the Manitoba Labour Board following sixty (60) days of the lockout, resulting in staff being able to return to work while an Arbitrator is appointed to help settle the agreement.


This process is currently being threatened by the Pallister Government’s Bill 16, which could prevent arbitrators settling labour disputes, resulting in prolonged lockouts or strikes.


“We are disappointed that this employer chose to lock out its own staff in the middle of the pandemic,” said Ho. “Our members are relieved that they can return to helping refugees and newcomers settle in Manitoba”.

Brandon School Division Support Staff Vote for Strike Mandate

BRANDON, Manitoba – School support staff in the Brandon School Division have voted 99% in favour of strike action.

“School support staff have been critical throughout the pandemic in helping our kids succeed,” says Jamie Rose, President of CUPE 737 representing support staff in the Brandon School Division. “This has been an incredibly challenging year for staff, yet the Division is still hanging on to the Pallister government’s unconstitutional wage mandate”.

School support staff have been without a new contract since 2018, as a result of Pallister’s unconstitutional interference in collective bargaining. Support staff are asking for wage increases in line with recently settled teachers’ contracts.

“Staff take these votes seriously, and the 99% support for a strike mandate tells us school support staff feel disrespected, undervalued, and deserve support”, said Rose.

This strike mandate also comes at the same time that the Pallister government announced $146 million in education property tax refunds, which have been widely criticized as taking much needed money out of the school system.

A strike committee has been established, no date for a strike has been set.

CUPE 737 represents approximately 600 school support staff in the Brandon School Division, including Education Assistants, Bus Drivers, Custodians, Maintenance, Library Techs, Secretaries, and more.

CUPE health care bargaining update #7, June 10, 2021

Bargaining update for CUPE health care members.

Strike/job action

The CUPE Bargaining Council may call on the members for a strike mandate (vote) to support their efforts at the bargaining table.  Normally, unions do not call for a strike vote until there is a significant break down in the negotiations.  We are not at that point quite yet but CUPE has begun preparations in case we need to call for a strike vote.

A strike committee has met and are preparing for the potential of a province-wide strike.  We are not calling for a strike vote yet but the planning required for 18,000 members to go on strike is huge and that is why we must start preparing now.

Why are we not striking like the nurses?

The Manitoba Nurses’ Union (MNU) has taken a strike vote.  The nurses did not have as many collective agreements or classifications to merge into one collective agreement as CUPE, therefore they are further along in the process.  They also started bargaining four months before we did.

CUPE has over 123 collective agreements all with very different contract language.  CUPE wants to protect as much language as possible from all the collective agreements, so this requires a longer process at the bargaining table.  CUPE members have told us that protecting this language is important.

MNU has also stated they will be doing different types of strike/job action rather than stopping working.  Unions will not be able to stop providing essential care in a strike especially with the COVID crisis.

CUPE supports MNU and will stand in solidarity with them throughout any strike or job action.

What is binding arbitration?

Currently The Labour Relations Act allows for unions to apply for binding arbitration after sixty (60) days on strike. Binding arbitration is where an arbitrator (sort of judge) decides what will be in a collective agreement.  Usually, binding arbitration is only used when there are a few outstanding items, most often wages, that the parties cannot come to agreement on.  Once the binding arbitration process has started, whatever the arbitrator decides is what the union gets.  There is no voting on a collective agreement.

How does Essential Services affect a strike?

Before any health care union can go on strike an Essential Services Agreement (ESA) must be negotiated.  This is law.

CUPE is negotiating updated ESAs with the Employers.  The Bargaining Council may be calling on members for information regarding staffing levels and required duties for each classification at your site.   The Essential Services Act(Health Care) of Manitoba requires the unions to provide essential care so as not to affect the “life and limb” of clients/patients/residents.

We thank all CUPE members for their feedback and concerns.  We are doing everything we can to protect and improve your collective agreement and fight for fair wage increases.

Interlake School Division school custodians, trades, and mechanics ratify new agreement

STONEWALL, MANITOBA – School custodians, trades, and mechanics represented by CUPE Local 2972 and the Interlake School Division have ratified a new collective agreement.

“Custodians, tradespeople, and mechanics have been critical throughout the pandemic in helping keep our schools safe and running,” says Lee McLeod, CUPE Regional Director.

“The agreement between CUPE 2972 and Interlake School Division is the second school support staff contract that defies the Pallister wage freeze and includes raises in line with those agreed to by school divisions and the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. We want to thank the Interlake School Division for their leadership in reaching this agreement.”

Wage increases are in line with recently negotiated teacher’s agreements and are retroactive:  1.6% in 2019, 1.4% in 2020, 0.5% in 2021, and a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2022.

The agreement between CUPE 2972 and Interlake School Division helps set a pattern for school support staff in Manitoba, following CUPE 3164’s similar wage settlement at Evergreen School Division announced on June 8, 2021.

“The Pallister government has done everything they can to stop school support staff from negotiating fair contracts, so we are proud that CUPE support staff are leaders at the bargaining table”.

CUPE 2972 represents approximately 45 school support staff at the Interlake School Division, including custodians, trades, and bus mechanics.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represent approximately 6,000 education workers, including education assistants, custodians, bus drivers, clerical, library techs, intercultural liaisons, and more in 25 school boards across Manitoba.

Evergreen School Division School Support Staff ratify new agreement

GIMLI, MANITOBA – School support staff represented by CUPE Local 3164 and the Evergreen School Division have ratified a new collective agreement.

“School support staff have been on the front lines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, helping keep our kids and schools safe, and providing critical support in the classroom,” says Lee McLeod, CUPE Regional Director.

“The agreement between CUPE 3164 and Evergreen School Division ensures school support staff receive raises that are consistent with those recently negotiated by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. We want to thank the Evergreen School Division for their leadership in reaching this agreement, despite the provincial government’s attempts to prevent wage increases for school support staff in Manitoba.”

Wage increases are in line with recently negotiated teacher’s agreements, and are retroactive:

1.6% in 2019, 1.4% in 2020, and 0.5% in 2021.

The agreement between CUPE 3164 and Evergreen School Division is the first freely negotiated (settled without arbitration) school support staff settlement in Manitoba to break the 0%, 0%, 0.75%, 1.0% wage mandate of the Pallister government. This wage mandate was originally part of The Public Services Sustainability Act–legislation that was ruled unconstitutional by the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench in 2020.

The Pallister government is also holding school divisions hostage with Bill 64, threatening their very existence and ability to negotiate directly with their own staff.

“The Pallister government has done everything they can to stop school support staff from negotiating a new contract, so we are proud that the CUPE support staff at Evergreen School Division and the School Division leadership reached a fair agreement”, says McLeod. “We expect other school divisions will follow Evergreen’s lead and agree to fair settlements with other CUPE locals.”

CUPE Local 3164 represents approximately 150 school support staff at the Evergreen School Division, including education assistants, bus drivers, school secretaries, maintenance and trades, library staff, and ECEs.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represent approximately 6,000 education workers, including education assistants, custodians, bus drivers, clerical, library techs, intercultural liaisons and more in 25 school boards across Manitoba.

Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC)/Welcome Place makes dubious claims about client services continuing

WINNIPEG – One day after locking out its workers, Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC) / Welcome Place is claiming that services continue, and the financial demands of its employees are responsible for their financial shortfall, even though the MIIC caused employees to have pay reductions of 12.5-27.5% over the last year. MIIC continues to demand workers accept concessions on issues that will not affect their bottom line, says the Regional Director of CUPE in Manitoba.

Since threatening to lock out workers a couple of weeks ago, CUPE has been working hard to address the outstanding issues, but the employer has refused to meaningfully adjust their demands. As a result, refugee workers have been forced out of their jobs over just a few issues, including cuts to workers’ rights and benefits.

“MIIC workers have not made any demands on their employer; the MIIC are the ones making the demands,” said Lee McLeod, Regional Director of CUPE in Manitoba. “Our attempts to address the outstanding issues of employee rights and benefits have been ignored, and MIIC has put people out of work over only a few issues that they are unwilling to move past.”

“These workers feel pride over the service they provide and feel hurt and frustrated by the decision to lock them out. They are not in it for the money, but they do not want to give up benefits they already have,” said Scott Clark, National Servicing Representative for CUPE. “We are aware of the funding challenges faced by MIIC and have never made any unreasonable demands. For the employer to claim that they need to do this for the survival of the organization is just false.”

Employees of MIIC are skilled workers, with years of experience helping new Canadians find such things as housing, legal assistance, and employment opportunities. While locked out, they will not be able to provide those services.

“MIIC claims they will continue to provide services to our clients; however, we doubt that is remotely possible without major delays or quality concerns,” said Nasra Hassan, MIIC employee. “There is no way management can take on these needs, and other agencies do not have the capacity or experience MIIC staff bring to the table. We have witnessed clients walking away from the building after discovering the lockout, having no notice or direction from MIIC. Our members are heartbroken.”

MIIC continues to demand reductions of vacation and similar benefits, reductions of general holidays, reduced layoff notice, the deletion of maternity leave Employment Insurance top-up, and that employees pay more for their health benefits. This is all in the context of the reclassified jobs with lower wages and higher workloads.

Workers at MIIC will be eligible for strike pay from CUPE, and Local 2348 has agreed to top-up that pay, a move that will allow workers to provide for their families during the lock-out.

“CUPE will support the workers at MIIC who are being treated unfairly,” continued McLeod. “We will not stop trying to get a deal, and will not allow the employer to use a lock-out to remove issues from the contract that employees have come to depend on.”

BREAKING: Court ruling finds Pallister’s wage freeze bill unconstitutional

Manitoba’s largest public sector union applauds Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice McKelvey’s ruling that the Public Services Sustainability Act (PSSA) is unconstitutional.

CUPE and other unions through the Manitoba Federation of Labour’s Partnership to Defend Public Services brought Pallister’s government to court, and won.

“Brian Pallister has been pushing ideological cuts to public services, and attempted to do so by violating our constitutional right to bargain collective agreements,” said Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Pallister lost in court today, but the fight against his austerity agenda isn’t over”.

CUPE provided testimony during the proceedings.

Now that the PSSA has been proven unconstitutional in court, CUPE intends to move swiftly to get to the bargaining table with the intent to negotiate fair deals for the thousands of Manitoba workers, including in health care, education, crown corporations, child care, social services, and more who have been without a contract for over four years.

“Manitoba’s public sector workforce has been on the front-lines fighting COVID-19, and now we are asking Manitobans to support us as we get back to the negotiating table” says Araya.

“CUPE has very straight forward demands: we want a fair deal for workers. But Pallister has made it clear that he is willing to violate constitutional rights to push workers down and that’s something we, and the courts, won’t accept”.

CUPE Manitoba extends our deepest gratitude to the work of the Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck, as well as the hard working staff at the MFL for the countless hours of work put into this fight.

We also extend our congratulations and thanks to all the other members of the PPDS which include unions from across the province for working together through challenging times.

See link for the decision summary provided by representatives of Myers LLP:

If you would like the full decision (download .pdf)

This was won by Manitoba’s labour movement, working together.

CUPE welcomes new members

CUPE welcomes new members in the WRHA, Shared Health, Southern Health, and the North

All health care workers are now members of their new union.

CUPE is pleased to welcome new and returning members to CUPE: in Southern Health-Santé Sud, the Northern Regional Health Authority, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Shared Health.

CUPE now represents all Community and Facility Support workers in these health authorities.

We want to thank all unions involved in this process and are pleased to say all unions have been working together to ensure a smooth transition of new members.

The Commissioner responsible for implementing The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act  has issued interim bargaining certificates, effective as of December 8th (rural RHAs) and December 13th (WRHA and Shared Health), certifying CUPE as your union. He will eventually issue permanent certificates, and the interim ones are valid until that time.

With 36,000 members in Manitoba and 700,000 across the country, CUPE is now the largest union in Manitoba and Canada. We want to live up to the trust you have placed in CUPE.

Please watch for local stewards and representatives in your workplace in the new year, for more health care news, and for information about the bargaining process.

CUPE is also working hard to get to the bargaining table.  We want to negotiate a new collective agreement for you.

What happens now?

CUPE now represents you if you are a Facility Support or Community Support worker employed in these health authorities:

– Northern Regional Health Authority
– Southern Health–Santé Sud
– Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (including Churchill)
– Shared Health

  • CUPE now represents you for any existing grievances or processes, even if they were filed by another union.
  • You will now pay dues to CUPE.
  • Your old contract remains your contract until bargaining concludes (even after you join CUPE).
  • Once a new CUPE agreement is bargained and ratified by the members, this new agreement will cover you.

How can I find out more about CUPE?

Visit:                www.cupe.ca, and cupe.mb.ca

Facebook:       @CUPE SCFP, and @CUPE Manitoba

Note to new CUPE members:
CUPE’s structure may be different from other unions.

Here are the basics:

CUPE is a member-driven union, where members are involved directly in decision-making. We believe you know what’s best for your workplace. That’s why your CUPE local is so important.

Shop Stewards, site Vice-Presidents, and your Executive are elected by you, the members, and can be contacted to help with your day-to day needs.

Shop Stewards, along with Union Support Officers, and professional National Servicing Representatives are there to help you when you need union representation at work.

National Servicing Representatives and Specialists (like Legal, Research, Human Rights, Union Development, Safety and Health, Pensions, and Communications) are all available to your CUPE local to help take on arbitrations, human rights issues, and fights against privatization and contracting out.

CUPE National and CUPE Manitoba are also here to support you, and your unique workplace needs.

CUPE’s education department provides training to local Shop Stewards and activists to make sure you have representatives right in your workplace who are equipped with the knowledge and experience to seek information and speak up in meetings with management.

If you were an activist, Shop Steward, or Executive Member in your previous union, please don’t hesitate to contact us about getting involved with CUPE.

When can bargaining begin?

A bargaining unit certificate is the legal document that explains which union represents each group of workers. Now that we have bargaining unit certificates, we can start the bargaining process.

CUPE’s contracts are the best in health care! CUPE ensures that every member can make suggestions on how to improve their collective agreement.

To prepare for bargaining:

  • CUPE is working on Essential Services Agreements. These agreements tell us how many staff must work in each facility in the event of job action like a strike or lock out. By law, we cannot bargain until Essential Services Agreements are done.
  • Your CUPE bargaining committee will do a bargaining survey electronically and will also distribute paper copies to members who request this.
  • The bargaining committee will compile the results of the surveys and prepare the proposal package.

Then bargaining can begin, using the designated receiving agreement as a base.

What can I do?

  • Please make sure we have your most recent contact information, including cell phone number and personal email. We do not use work contact information to reach you for union business.
  • Do not hesitate to contact CUPE if you have any questions or concerns.

Contact your CUPE Local:

– WRHA & Shared Health: CUPE 204
– President Debbie Boissonneault at 204-775-2873, cupe204.ca@gmail.com, www.cupe204.ca, or Facebook @cupe204

– Southern Health-Santé Sud: CUPE 4270
– President Darrin Cook at drcook@xplornet.com

– Northern Regional Health Authority: CUPE 8600
– President Christine Lussier at cblussier@outlook.com

Shannon McAteer, CUPE Health Care Coordinator, may be reached at:

Phone:       204-942-0343
Email:        healthcare@cupe.ca

Indigenous Women’s Healing Centre staff ratify first Collective Agreement

Contract language includes paid days off for traditional Indigenous ceremony

Employees at the Indigenous Women’s Healing Centre in Winnipeg have ratified their first collective agreement with CUPE Local 2348.

“We are excited that this group now has the protection of a CUPE Collective Agreement” says Allen Bleich, CUPE National Servicing Representative.

“What’s more, this Collective Agreement has important contract language that recognizes traditional Indigenous ceremonies as a workplace right for staff”.

The new language, Article 21.13 Ceremonial Leave, allows “employees wishing to take part in traditional Indigenous ceremony(s) such as a Sundance or healing ceremony up to four (4) paid working days leave per calendar year, provided that such leave is authorized by the Employer in advance”.

The four days leave for Indigenous ceremony were a workplace policy prior to negotiating the new Collective Agreement, however moving the language from policy to being enshrined in the legal contract is an important step to ensuring these days cannot be taken away should management ever change.

“We are proud that our CUPE negotiating team bargained this important language into our contract,” says Joan Hay, Shop Steward for CUPE 2348 at the Indigenous Women’s Healing Centre.

“Reconciliation includes ensuring that our workplaces recognize Indigenous culture and tradition, and I am proud to be part of a member-driven union where we can prioritize and include Indigenous perspectives and traditions into our bargaining”.

The new contract also recognizes June 21, National Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Day as paid holidays for staff.

Including Indigenous traditions into Collective Agreements is not uncommon in CUPE, with language ranging from the inclusion of Indigenous Elders in the grievance and mediation process, to recognizing Indigenous bereavement practices.

The Indigenous Women’s Healing Centre works to support and strengthen Indigenous women and others on their journey of healing and recovery from family violence, addictions, intergenerational issues, and institutionalization.

CUPE represents approximately 40 staff who work as Case Managers, Counselors, Residential Support Workers, Maintenance, Practical Skills Workers, Healing plan Coordinators, Facilitators, Mentors, and Cultural Support Workers.

CUPE as an organization continues to learn, adapt, and grow in the journey towards true reconciliation. Contract language is one step, however we recognize that addressing the long-term impacts of colonization takes meaningful partnerships and continued action.

Abe Araya Elected as President of CUPE Manitoba

BRANDON – Delegates at the 2019 CUPE Manitoba Convention in Brandon elected Abe Araya as President of the province’s largest union. Abe Araya comes from CUPE Local 110, representing custodians, maintenance, and painters at the Winnipeg School Division.

“Our union is focused on fighting back against cuts to health care, education, social services, and privatization,” said Araya. “Despite Brian Pallister’s attempts to divide working people, we will be uniting workers from across Manitoba to put a stop to Pallister’s austerity agenda.”

Delegates at convention voted in support resolutions, ranging from health and safety in the workplace, anti-oppression training for activists, pushing back against privatization, fighting against health care and education cuts, and supporting the Green New Deal.

“CUPE is an incredibly diverse union,” said Araya. “With the strength of Manitoba’s largest union, we will be on the front line defending public health care and education, public Hydro, and fighting for properly funded childcare and social services for all Manitobans.”

CUPE’s annual convention featured guest speakers, including NDP leader Wab Kinew, NDP Critic for Infrastructure and Municipal Affairs Matt Wiebe, NDP Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan, Winnipeg School Division Trustee Yijie Chen, and Manitoba Health Coalition Director Breanne Goertzen.

CUPE National President Mark Hancock and CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury spoke to delegates, committing the full strength of CUPE’s 700,000 members to fight against cuts and privatization.

Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck provided updates on labour’s united front against Bill 28 (The Public Services Sustainability Act) and committed to fight against the Pallister government’s unconstitutional wage freeze.

Two hundred people rallied outside Brandon City Hall with CUPE Local 69 on Wednesday evening, voicing concern over the contracting out of work at the Wheat City Golf Course.

Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE Local 500 served as interim CUPE Manitoba President throughout 2019. Delbridge continues to serve as Vice-President of CUPE Manitoba. Barb Gribben of CUPE Local 737 was this year’s recipient of the prestigious Jack Rodie Award, recognizing dedication and activism in the union.

“Our union is stronger, and more united than ever,” said Araya. “Manitobans can count on CUPE to defend good jobs, and fight for our public services.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 700,000 members.  In Manitoba, CUPE represents over 36,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, childcare centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.