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.

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.”

New supports for CUPE health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19

CUPE has finalized a new Memorandum of Agreement #2 (MOA #2) with the Employer regarding the impacts of reassignment, redeployment and shift disruptions.

CUPE worked tirelessly over the past number of weeks to ensure these new benefits were fair and respected your rights in the workplace.

This new MOA #2 will be in addition to the one the unions negotiated back in March (MOA #1).

We know that there have been unprecedented impacts from COVID-19 in the workplace and on your working life.  We know you have been working many long hours, and often working short under very stressful conditions – often while not in your regular workplace.

CUPE frontline staff have selflessly answered the call to help the facilities and units experiencing an outbreak.

In light of this, the new MOA #2 has included additional premiums for when staff are reassigned, redeployed or have their regular shift disrupted.  CUPE was also able to clarify many questions members had, including around the payment qualification and general process for everyone.

Download the new MOA#2 here.
Download the MOA#2 Appendices here.

Download the explanation document here.

Highlights of MOA #2

There is a “shift disruption allowance” (SDA) of $25, $35 or $50 per shift.

There is also a “work disruption allowance” (WDA) which is an hourly premium of $5/hour.  These will be retroactive to November 1, 2020.  These benefits and the benefits under MOA #1 can be combined if circumstances allow.

If you received the current $20 or $25 shift disruption allowance already for a certain shift, that amount will be deducted from any money you are owed for the same shift in the retroactive period and you will receive the balance of any additional monies.

Change in Schedule/Shift Disruption:  see Section 5 of MOA #2

  • You would be entitled to $25, $35 or $50 per shift (depending on the circumstances);
  • Your EFT should be maintained unless you volunteer or agree to work extra time or shifts.

Redeployed to work in a Personal Care Home (PCH)

  • You would receive the $5/hour work disruption allowance (WDA).

Working in ICU

  • If you currently work, have been reassigned or redeployed you would receive the WDA of $5/hour.

Working in a designated COVID unit or a unit/ward declared in outbreak

  • You would receive the $5/hour work disruption allowance (WDA).

Being redeployed to work in the North

  • There are special provisions for being redeployed to the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA);
  • $500 per bi-weekly period, travel allowance, mileage, parking, accommodations and daily per diem will be provided.

Being redeployed or volunteering to work in another town within the NRHA and you already work there

  • Mileage, accommodation, meal reimbursement, daily travel allowance of $60 and additional $75 per shift.

This new MOA #2 will be in effect until the end of the pandemic is declared and is fully retroactive to November 1, 2020.

Please read the full MOA #2 and the explanation document from the employer for full details, and do not hesitate to contact your local executive if you have further questions.

As always, CUPE is here to fight for you and your rights in the workplace.  Thank you all for your ongoing efforts in these challenging times.

CUPE: New wage support program is welcome news – Manitoba’s crisis in care still needs urgent action like paid sick days

WINNIPEG – The Canadian Union of Public Employees welcomes the new Caregiver Wage Support Program (CWSP), but warns that more comprehensive action like guaranteed sick pay is still urgently needed to stem the crisis in residential care in Manitoba.

CUPE represents workers in nearly all the eligible caregiving roles. The Union is hopeful that the program will be extended by adding additional weeks, expanded to help more workers (such as those working in Home Care, hospitals, and community clinics), and amended to include sick days.

The program, jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments, will provide a $5/hour wage supplement to eligible workers earning less than $25/hour who provide care in a variety of different care home, disability care, youth care, or assisted living settings. There will be two intake windows, in December and January, and the benefit will apply to regular and overtime wages for hours worked from November 1, 2020 to January 10, 2021.

“We welcome the new program, as it recognizes the sacrifices frontline workers are making during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are concerned that the benefit does not cover enough workers, does nothing to increase wages long-term, and does not cover sick time pay,” says Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba. “We wish it would not take a pandemic for government to recognize the critical role that frontline workers play in caring for Manitobans.”

Sick time provisions are a big problem for lower-paid caregivers working shifts, and CUPE has been advocating for guaranteed paid sick time for frontline workers since the beginning of the pandemic. Many workers have had to go without pay when they are sick or in isolation. Denying them the new wage supplement puts pressure on workers and on the safety of residents, their families, and other staff in caregiving programs. No worker should have to choose between paying their bills and safe work.

“If we want to get this pandemic under control, we need better leadership from government. Today’s announcement hailed the lowest-paid caregivers as heroes, but these heroes need better pay and the reassurance of paid sick time if they are home with COVID, COVID-symptoms, or required to isolate,” Araya added. “It was a missed opportunity by government to show they really respect frontline workers and will do what is needed to make caregiving safer for workers and residents.”

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

CUPE 204 files 55 policy grievances against WRHA, Shared Health

Front-line health care support staff cite inconsistent provision of PPE

WINNIPEG – Seven months into a global pandemic, and many front-line health care support staff in Manitoba are still fighting for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep themselves and the people they care for safe, says CUPE.

“Hospitals, long-term care homes, and home care employers are inconsistent in the provision of adequate PPE to support staff on the front-line in the fight against COVID-19,” said Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE
Local 204, representing 14,500 health care support staff within the WRHA and Shared Health.  “We are hearing from support staff across the city who are being denied or having to argue for protective equipment.”

On Monday, October 19th, CUPE 204 filed policy grievances at fifty-five health care facilities across the WRHA and Shared Health, citing the inconsistent provision of N95 masks to support staff working with COVID-19 positive patients, residents, or clients. In some cases, face shields are no longer being provided.

While health officials cite that N95’s will only be given in circumstances where aerosol transmission of the virus could be present, CUPE contends that health care support staff work closest with patients and residents, including bathing, feeding, and cleaning them, and that safety should be automatic.

Grievances include Middlechurch Home of Winnipeg, Misericordia Health Centre, and Golden West Centennial Lodge, all of which declared outbreaks of COVID-19 yesterday.

“In some facilities, health care aides have to beg to be provided appropriate PPE before working with
COVID-positive community members,” said Boissonneault. “We believe if a health care worker is assigned to a COVID unit, resident, or client they should be automatically provided every possible protection available without delay or resistance.”

Grievances were also filed on behalf of home care workers, many of whom have still not been fitted for N95 masks. Some are also not being provided information on whether their client is COVID positive or awaiting testing.

“Home care workers have been working incredibly hard to support their clients, but they are being treated like their health and safety are second-tier to the rest of the health care system,” said Boissonneault. “These workers visit very vulnerable Manitobans, and we need to make sure both the worker and the community member are protected.”

Home care workers also have very little “sick time” available if they are asked to self-isolate. While the new Federal sick time program will be helpful, it will not go far enough to cover a 14-day self-isolation period.

“We need government and employers to step up and keep all health care support staff safe…period,” said Boissonneault. “We have seen what can happen if we are not taking every measure to protect staff and residents, and we need action now.”

These grievances were submitted at the start of Manitoba’s Health Care Support Workers’ Recognition week, a week usually declared to celebrate the commitment of Manitoba’s health care support staff.

 

CUPE 2039 files grievance at Parkview Place

On Friday, October 9, 2020, CUPE Local 2039 submitted a policy grievance against Parkview Place, citing concerns over unsafe working conditions. The Union met with the employer on October 14 to discuss our concerns.

As of October 14, 67 residents and 22 staff have contracted COVID-19, and 9 residents have died.

“Staff at Parkview are doing their best to support residents during this critical time, but they need help,” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE’s Health Care Coordinator.  “We are beyond an emergency, and staff are completely overwhelmed and frightened for themselves, their families, and the residents they care for.”

CUPE 2039’s grievance called on the Employer to immediately provide N95 masks/respirators to all staff who work on COVID-19 units at Parkview Place.  Prior to yesterday, N95 masks/respirators were only being provided to staff following a nurse’s risk assessment.

As a result of CUPE’s grievance, the employer confirmed that N95 masks/respirators will now be provided to all staff working in COVID-19 units.

“It is clear that staff are contracting COVID-19 at work, and we need every safety precaution in place at all times,” said McAteer.

Parkview Place has offered an additional $2.00/hour premium for staff retroactive to September 15 and lasting until the outbreak at Parkview Place is declared over.  However, that premium does not negate the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe working environment and permanent improved compensation for all staff, according to CUPE.

CUPE’s grievance also demands the immediate hiring of more health care support staff, as increasing numbers of staff are exposed to COVID-19 and are forced to isolate.  In many cases health care workers have been unable to take breaks due to staffing shortages, leading to exhaustion as they continue to care for residents.

“CUPE has been warning the Manitoba government that chronic staff shortages in long-term care will result in crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in privately operated care homes,” says McAteer.  “This applies to all long-term care homes in Manitoba, and we need the government to take action now.”

CUPE 2039 represents approximately 163 support staff at Parkview Place.

Public services in Manitoba are in trouble under Pallister: CUPE responds to Throne Speech

If the government plans to do to education, what they did to health care, then Manitoba is in really big trouble, says CUPE Manitoba representing 36,000 workers in the province.

“The province’s ongoing health reforms led to worker fatigue and staff shortages before the pandemic started, and now those issues have become even worse,” says Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“The looming threat of education reform has already impacted morale among front-line workers and educators in the school system at a time when the focus should be entirely on supporting our kids.”

Any report on education reform that was written before the pandemic is now archaic and should be scrapped, according to CUPE.

“We now know the value of having distinct school boards in our diverse communities who can respond directly to the needs of families, as well as the critical importance of ensuring school support staff have the resources they need to help keep our kids safe and help deliver the best quality education possible. Now is not the time for education reform,” said Araya.

The elimination of the education property tax will further erode school divisions abilities to respond to the education needs of their communities.

Health care in distress

On the health care front, CUPE continues to call on the government to increase staffing levels in long term care homes and provide robust paid sick leave to health care support staff who self-isolate.

“CUPE has called on the government to address the now systemic issue of working short in health care prior to the pandemic, and now we are seeing the very serious impact this is having on staff and residents,” said Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE 204 representing 14,000 health care workers in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Shared Health.

“The government plans capital upgrades in long-term care facilities, but why won’t the government meet with us to discuss staffing levels? Why won’t the government act now to ensure our support staff and residents get the care they deserve?”

While the federal government recently announced 10 paid sick days for Canadian workers who are impacted by the pandemic, it does not go nearly far enough to support front-line staff who have already used up their sick banks and vacation time for the 14-day self-isolation period.

Some workers have already self-isolated more than once, and the Provincial government should fill that gap.

“Health care workers, including home care, need to be assured that they won’t be financially penalized because they take self-isolation and the wellbeing of their residents seriously,” says Boissonneault.

“Health care workers have been on the front-line in the fight against COVID from the start, and they need to be able to continue fighting for the months and maybe years to come. Those limited sick days are critical in ensuring they can take the time away from health care settings if they get ill – COVID or otherwise.”

CUPE is also deeply concerned that the provincial government may be considering privatizing home care services for seniors.

“Home care must remain public,” said Boissonneault. “Private profit has no place in the delivery of health care services to our elders, and this government must not be allowed to privatize this critical service for Manitoba seniors.”

Child care “choice” concerning

CUPE is concerned that this government is going to move further in the direction of private-for-profit child care under the guise of “choice,” while letting the non-profit child care centres continue to struggle under the combined challenges of inadequate funding and COVID-related challenges.

Manitoba Hydro’s future uncertain

Pallister is chipping away at Manitoba Hydro, carving out Power Smart, privatizing Hydro’s money-making subsidiaries, and forcing staff into furloughs despite the continued need for a strong public energy utility, says CUPE.

“Pallister is leading Hydro down the path of privatization and CUPE is afraid he could use the pandemic as an excuse to sell off Hydro in whole or in part to pay down the debt,” says Araya.  “This government has been making very strategic cuts to Hydro, and Manitobans should be very concerned with Pallister’s agenda for Hydro.”

Lastly, CUPE urges the provincial government to support the thousands of Manitoba workers who have been without a contract since the unconstitutional wage freeze legislation was introduced.

“If Pallister cared about working people, he would get to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair deal for the thousands of front-line workers who have been stepping up to the plate to protect Manitobans every single day.”

Pallister’s support for health workers is hollow

WINNIPEG – Brian Pallister’s promise of 14 days of paid administrative leave for front-line health workers has given false hope to hundreds of health workers who have been in isolation due to COVID-19, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“When Brian Pallister announced 14 days of paid administrative leave for front line health care workers, it was expected that this was to ensure workers told to self-isolate by their employer would be covered,” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE Health Care Coordinator.

“It turns out his promise only covers very few health workers, and hundreds will be forced to exhaust their sick banks, leaving the health system vulnerable in the future.”

On April 14th, Premier Pallister and health officials promised a 14-day paid leave for health care workers who come in contact with COVID-19 to self-isolate. On April 24th the government informed staff that the coverage indeed only covers staff who the employer officially recognizes have come in direct contact with COVID-19 in the workplace.

It does not cover health workers turned away at the door when they are screened coming in to work.

“When you force health workers to use their sick bank to self-isolate, you are asking those workers to return to work with no sick time available going forward,” said McAteer.

“Sick banks in health care are there for a reason, and that’s to ensure if a health worker catches a cold, or gets ill, they aren’t choosing between a paycheque or staying home: they stay home.”

Home care workers have access to a maximum of four paid sick days at any time and many have less sick time available than that. This is unacceptable at the best of times and a dire circumstance during this historic pandemic.

CUPE calls on the provincial government to extend the 14-day paid administrative leave to cover all health care workers who are sent home by their employer to self isolate.

CUPE also calls on the provincial government to extend presumptive WCB coverage to all workers who are sent home due to COVID-19.
“During a health pandemic we need to make sure workers are protected,” said McAteer. “Pallister’s support for health workers is hollow.”

Q&A for CUPE health care locals: 14-day paid administrative leave & working single sites

CUPE has been working hard to get answers from health authorities. The following Q&A provides some answers to frequently asked questions from health care members. Keep in mind, this update is as of April 24, 2020.

Things change very quickly, and CUPE will continue trying to provide up-to-date information.

14-day Paid Administrative Leave

Q. How are staff to access/apply for the 14-days paid sick leave from the Province of Manitoba?
A. Managers and/or supervisors are supposed to review anyone who was off due to workplace exposure automatically. This applies for pick-up shifts and part-time and casual shifts that were scheduled during the period. However, it only applies while employees are asymptomatic. If employees become symptomatic, then the coverage ends and income shifts to sick time. If staff become symptomatic during quarantine, they should notify their manager and OESH.

Q. Does it apply for people who were quarantined due to travel or community exposure as well as at work?
A. No. It only covers possible exposure in the workplace.

Q. Does it apply to folks who are sent home during the onsite screening?
A. No, members will have to utilize sick leave, vacation or any banks that they have. If you do not have any of those, you may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance (EI). Information about these programs and how to apply can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

Q. Does it apply for community/primary care clinics?
A. Yes, if the exposure is at work.

Q. When the claim is retroactive, how will it work if someone has received EI and/or CERB for that time frame?
A. If you received CERB or EI for the quarantine/isolation period and then receive this paid administrative leave from the Employer – you must report to CERB/EI when you receive the money.

Q. In what cases should I report to Workers Compensation Board (WCB) and fill out incident reports?
A. When you have been exposed at work, you should fill in an incident report and make a claim with WCB as well.

Q. Does it apply for private personal care homes (PPCH)?
A. Yes, it applies to both public and private personal care homes. However, the private (Revera and Extendicare) do not fall under the Provincial Health Labour Relations Services (PHLRS) so how it will be implemented may be different.


Working Single Sites

 

Q. Do I have to tell my Employers if I have another job?
A. Yes, during this pandemic you have to tell the Employer about additional jobs. You should not have to provide your social insurance number. Your Employer has that on record already.

Q. When will I have to start working at only one site?
A. The provincial government says that as of May 1, 2020, staff will have to work at only one site.

Q. What will happen to my EFT from the site I do not choose?
A. The Employer is saying they will try to make everyone whole. This means trying to provide you extra hours at the site at which you choose to work. If you have more than a full-time EFT between your sites, they are also trying to figure out how they will handle that. CUPE has stated members should not lose income during this process.


Q.
What will happen to my benefits and pension?
A. CUPE has stated that members’ benefits and pensions must be protected. The Employer has said that they will look into this.

Q. What will happen to my wage?
A. CUPE has stated that staff should all make the higher public sector wages, no matter where you choose to work during this time.


Q.
What will happen to my seniority and vacation/sick time accrual at the site I do not choose to work at?
A. CUPE has raised this as a concern. The Employer has not made a decision at this time.

Other Resources:

Federal Income Supports:
https://cupe.ca/income-supports-workers-during-coronavirus-pandemic
https://cupe.ca/canada-emergency-response-benefit-qa
https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html
https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

CUPE Seeking Alternatives to Pallister Public Sector Layoffs

Last week, with extremely short notice, CUPE was advised by the Pallister government about their desire to reduce the cost of so-called “non-essential” public sector workforce by 10-30 per cent. Unions and employers were initially informed about the plan through a provincial news release.

The workforce reduction will not apply to essential workers in areas like health care, child care, K-12 teaching and certain other public services and utilities – but it is alarming news from our government in the midst of the crisis of our generation. To do this, they are asking government departments and agencies to submit plans that cut workforce spending by 10%-30%.

The Manitoba Federation of Labour, CUPE, and our union friends in the Partnership to Defend Public Services attended a meeting on April 14th to discuss the request from government.

The government has presented two main options to avoid full layoffs of individual employees:

  1. Implement work-sharing agreements where “non-essential” staff would have their work week reduced to as few as two days per week and receive Employment Insurance for lost workdays. This work-sharing would have to be workplace-wide or possibly department-wide, unless positions are “essential”. The EI maximum of $54,000 per year would apply to income under this option.
  2. Expand employees’ ability to participate in a Voluntary Reduced Work Week. Under such a scenario, employees would be allowed to take up to 35 days of absence without pay. Approved VRWs may be treated as regular working days for pension, group life, and accumulated service calculations.

The work-sharing option is only possible if the federal government deems your employer eligible. Currently, the Federal Government has deemed Government Business Enterprises eligible (such as crown corporations and certain independent, revenue generating agencies) and Universities, but core government services such as the civil service and K-12education are not. The Federal Government would need to expand program eligibility further to include these last groups.

The government has so far been unable to say which public services they believe are non-essential. At the same time, the government has also made it clear that they will start making decisions on these matters very soon. The government has requested options for cost reductions by as early as Tuesday, April 21th. The provincial government has new powers under emergency legislation and could pass orders to require workforce reductions. CUPE is calling on the provincial government to respect our collective agreements.

CUPE Manitoba has serious concerns about these proposals, and some are worse than others. We are working towards the best solutions to the financial pressures of COVID-19, options that keep the public sector working. We want to keep doing our part to support health care and other public services that are so important and to work towards a collective social and economic recovery.

Across Manitoba, we are seeing the difference that public service workers are making in our communities. We know that quality public services are essential for all Manitobans – in normal times, and in these unprecedented and extremely challenging times, too.

The government’s job during a crisis is to demonstrate leadership, keep people safe, and make sure people can pay their bills and put food on the table. Cutting services and laying people off isn’t the answer. These measures reduce the government’s ability to respond and support people, and further shrinks the economy and the tax base.

We know this is creating more anxiety in your life during an already overwhelming time for all of us. We know that members have mortgages, rent, utilities and other bills to pay, and that a forced reduction in hours or days of work could create a personal crisis for you.

Please let us know how this might affect you – we would like to have stories and concerns and questions to share with management as we continue to look for answers. (We will keep your identity confidential.)

Protecting the jobs and livelihoods of our members and our communities is one of our top priorities, and we are working hard to avoid layoffs and mandatory workforce reductions across our provinces.

CUPE is here with you, and for you. Please contact your local CUPE executives if you have questions or concerns, and we’ll do everything we can to support you.