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.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) changes force support staff to perform nurse duties

Health care support staff are being asked to monitor patient blood pressure, blood sugars, deliver medical creams, and other treatments, all of which are duties of nurses, says CUPE 204, representing more than 14,000 health care workers in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

“The provincial government has made such a mess of health care that Health Care Aides are now being asked to perform nursing duties,” says CUPE 204 President, Debbie Boissonneault.

“These frontline workers stepped up to help with additional duties throughout the pandemic, but now the health authority seems to be making these changes permanent, affecting nurses’ scope of practice and putting support staff in unacceptable positions with minimal training and no additional support.”

In the fall of 2020, the WRHA began shifting specific patient and client care tasks from nurses to Health Care Aides in Winnipeg hospitals and facilities; a policy which has since rolled out across the city. Support staff are provided minimal training, and no additional compensation for the added duties.

CUPE 204 has filed a series of policy grievances in response to changing models of care being implemented by the WRHA.

Similar changes have been introduced in Home Care during the third wave of the pandemic.

The WRHA has begun directing Home Support Workers to administer medical treatments normally conducted by certified Home Care Attendants (HCAs). These client care tasks include supervision or administration of eye drops, oral medications, inhalers, medical ointments, and nitro patches – tasks normally done by HCAs but now being assigned to Home Support Workers who are primarily responsible for cleaning and tidying client homes.

“The WRHA is putting at risk the standards, work, and certifications of frontline health care workers,” says Boissonneault. “This pandemic has shown how important proper funding, staffing, and management of our public health care system is. We should be raising standards, not weakening them.”

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.”

School support staff speak out against Pallister’s K-12 Education Review, Bill 64

WINNIPEG – The union representing approximately 6,000 K-12 education workers in Manitoba is speaking out against the Pallister government’s education review and Education Modernization Act (Bill 64) announced today.

 

“The Pallister conservatives are driving their ideological agenda with an unprecedented attack on our local democracy, and this time it will affect our children”, said Lee McLeod, Canadian Union of Public Employees’ Regional Director. “School support staff are worried that such a major overhaul will result in cuts to education, will leave our most vulnerable students and parents with fewer resources, and even less ability to raise their concerns and needs.”

 

“If Pallister’s health care reforms taught us anything, it’s that they hurt our health care system and left it vulnerable when the pandemic struck,” said McLeod. “Now Pallister is using a pre-pandemic report to upend our education system, ignoring all the critical lessons we learned over the past twelve months.”

 

CUPE also notes that Bill 64’s elimination of school divisions will result in less public control and accountability of local schools. Parents, community members, and staff often approach local school boards and make presentations on how to improve schools in their areas. This legislation will eliminate important public oversight of our school system.

 

“Manitoba is unique in that our diverse communities have direct input into their school system through their locally elected school boards,” said McLeod. “This government wants to remove all of that local decision making and replace it with their own centralized, hand-picked appointees on Broadway. Toothless advisory boards will leave parents and families with no real voice in education”.

 

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.

Read the full report here: https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/educationreview/docs/public-discussion-paper.pdf

Read more about the government’s plans here: www.bettereducationmb.ca

“Wall Report” on Manitoba Hydro projects opens new doors to privatization

The release of the much anticipated “Wall Report” opens the door to new forms of privatization in Manitoba Hydro through the use of Private Public Partnerships (P3s), the sale of entire divisions of our provincialpublic utility, and the introduction of private companies to generate electricity in Manitoba, says CUPE 998.

“Pallister’s approach to privatizing Manitoba Hydro is about taking one slice at a time,” says Michelle Bergen, President of CUPE 998. “This government is carving off pieces of our Crown Corporation for sale, winding down subsidiaries, and now potentially introducing P3s to our hydro infrastructure and allowing private, for-profit generation of electricity.”

Wall’s report recommends continuing the government’s agenda of breaking apart Manitoba Hydro by dissolving Manitoba Hydro’s subsidiaries, which the report suggests are not “core” to the work of the utility. Wall suggested the government could sell these off and “use the proceeds” to reduce debt. Wall specifically alluded to Manitoba Hydro’s natural gas division.

Wall’s report explicitly calls for the end of a fully public system by introducing private, for-profit companies to the market. For example, recommendation #2.1 in the report encourages the government to consider private sector access to hydro transmission to allow private companies to compete with Manitoba Hydro for export customers

The report also focuses on introducing Private Public Partnerships (P3s) to Hydro projects.

P3s are a form of privatization, and it’s clear that the Wall Report recommends opening the door for privatization of Manitoba Hydro ‘by stealth’. “P3s are more expensive, reduce public oversight, and result in significant profits for the private sector at the public’s cost.

P3s are often promoted with the claim that the private sector takes on responsibility for risks previously assumed by the public. However, so-called risk transfer comes with a very high price tag.

“Private, for-profit corporations in P3s aren’t participating in projects for the public good, they are there to make a profit,” says Bergen. “At the end of the day no private company would ever take on risk associated with building hydro-electric dams in Northern Manitoba without the expectation of significant private profit, and Manitobans will be the ones paying for that profit with even less accountability.”

The previous NDP government enacted legislation that ensures thorough oversight, transparency, and accountability for any proposed P3 project in Manitoba. This was among the first laws that the Pallister government scrapped upon taking office in 2016.

In October 2019, the Pallister government commissioned former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall to take over as commissioner of a secretive inquiry into Manitoba Hydro’s Bipole III transmission and converter station project, and Keeyask Generating Station. The report was announced on Friday, February 26, 2021, and can be found here.

CUPE Local 998 represents approximately 900 clerical and technical staff at Manitoba Hydro.

Update for CUPE members

Dear CUPE members in Manitoba,

CUPE is aware that a charge of sexual assault has been laid against Abe Araya.

This charge has not yet been addressed in court. While this matter is before the courts, we will not provide further comments related to the charge, and will do what we can to ensure the privacy of those involved.

Out of respect for all those involved, we urge all members and locals not to speculate or spread rumours about the charge.

CUPE is taking this seriously. As per Article 7.8 of our National Constitution, the National President placed the CUPE Manitoba division board under “administration” on February 2.

You can read the National President’s February 2 letter to locals here.

Only the provincial division, CUPE Manitoba, is under administration. None of our CUPE locals in Manitoba are under administration.

This means the Executive Board of CUPE Manitoba has been dissolved and Board members removed from their positions at the Division. They are not removed from any elected position they may hold in their local union.

The administrator for CUPE Manitoba is Lee McLeod, CUPE Regional Director. He will be reaching out to local unions across Manitoba in coming days.

All locals continue to receive support from their CUPE servicing representatives, and your local workplace CUPE executive and stewards.

This does not impact grievances, arbitrations, bargaining, or our advocacy in the workplace or community.

The administration will give CUPE an opportunity to review the governance, policies, procedures, and bylaws of CUPE Manitoba, and bring changes to the next CUPE Manitoba convention.

We know CUPE has work to do on a number of fronts, including human rights and equality issues.

A number of resolutions were adopted at the last CUPE MB convention, and work to fulfill these decisions will be a priority in the coming weeks. They include:

  • Finalizing a “Safer Spaces” anti-oppression policy for all CUPE Manitoba-organized events.
  • In addition to the CUPE ombudsperson, ensure external expertise is available on-site to provide support for members at CUPE Manitoba-organized conventions and schools.
  • Establishing, offering, and holding culturally-sensitive peer-to-peer healing circles or circles of action to support members.
  • Once a new Executive Board is elected, provide them with anti-oppression training, including strong content on harassment, and ensure this is provided to elected leaders on an ongoing basis.
  • In addition to ensuring training is available to the CUPE Manitoba Executive Board, we will be making sure that training on anti-oppression, harassment, and workplace violence is available to our local leaders and activists.

Administration will also provide CUPE the opportunity to conduct a review of our internal ombudsperson program and processes to ensure victims feel safe to report incidents, no matter how difficult or serious.

With these challenges we are committed to building a stronger union for everyone.

Please reach out to Lee McLeod, CUPE Regional Director, your CUPE Local Executive, or your CUPE National Servicing Representative if you have any questions. We value all members’ feedback, especially on important issues facing our union such as this.