18,000 health care support workers across Manitoba are gearing up for a strike vote

Health care support staff in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Shared Health, Southern Health-Santé Sud, and Northern Regional Health Authority are preparing for a strike vote.

“Health care support staff have been fighting on the front lines to keep our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also enduring the Pallister government’s drawn-out attacks on health care,” says Lee McLeod, CUPE Regional Director. “Support staff are the pillars of health care, but are being treated as if they don’t matte­r—and that is unacceptable.”

Health care support staff have not had a new contract since 2017 when the government first tabled unconstitutional wage freeze legislation. 

Furthermore, the provincial government introduced legislation that amalgamated health care contracts – forcing dozens of contracts to be merged, pushing negotiations into 2021. Additionally, the provincial government forced cuts across health care since first being elected, resulting in a staffing and morale crisis. 

“Health care support staff are under so much pressure, and the government has shown very little respect for the work they do. After years without a contract, health care support staff want to see real support from the government, and that includes a fair contract for all staff,” said McLeod. “We are fighting to make sure no health care worker is left behind.”

CUPE is currently holding information sessions, as well as meet and greets with health care support staff to discuss the status of bargaining. The strike vote is expected to be held online and in-person, depending on the region, on August 18, 2021. No strike date has been set yet.

CUPE health care members please contact your local union to update your contact information as soon as possible.

CUPE 204, members register here.
CUPE 4270
, information here or contact healthcare@cupe.ca.
CUPE 8600
, members contact cupe8600@outlook.com or call/text 204 680-6072
CUPE 500, contact union@cupe500.mb.ca or click here.

CUPE represents 18,000 health care support staff across Manitoba in both Community Support and Facility Support roles in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Shared Health, Southern Health Santé-Sud, and Northern Regional Health Authority.

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.

Manitobans support public and non-profit take-over of private long-term care homes

WINNIPEG – A new poll from Probe Research, commissioned by CUPE, has found that two thirds of Manitobans would want the government or non-profit agencies to take over at least some privately operated personal care homes in the province, with nearly 40% saying *all* private personal care homes should become public or non-profit.

The poll further finds that over half of Manitobans do not trust private companies (like Revera) to provide good quality care to the elderly and chronically ill, and that eight-in-ten Manitobans do trust non-profit organizations and the government (like Regional Health Authorities) to provide good care.

“Manitobans have seen first-hand the critical need for strong, public and non-profit care for our elders,” said Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba. “The Manitoba government needs to phase out private for-profit care homes and invest in a strong public system.”

More than half of all COVID-19 related deaths in Manitoba have been in long-term care facilities, with many in privately operated care homes.

Overwhelming majority of Manitobans support legislated minimum staffing requirements in care homes.

Ninety-four percent of Manitobans support regulations that would increase the minimum staffing levels at long-term care homes. Support for increased staffing levels runs across party lines, and finds support in both rural communities and Winnipeg.

“CUPE has been calling for increased staffing levels in long term care homes for years,” said Araya. “Manitobans understand the critical need to legislate minimum staffing levels so we can get our seniors the care and attention they deserve, now and post-COVID-19.”

On May 27, 2020, NDP healthcare critic Uzoma Asagwara introduced a bill to legislate mandatory minimum staffing requirements for long term care homes, however the Pallister government used their majority to filibuster it, preventing it from being debated in the last legislative session.

“It is unfortunate that the government missed this chance to do the right thing for our seniors,” said Araya. “With such a wide range of Manitobans supporting legislation on minimum staffing levels, you would think the government would act.”

The poll ran between November 24 and December 4, 2020, surveying a random and representative sampling of 1,000 adults residing in Manitoba.

Download the full report and data tables here.

CUPE represents approximately 19,000 health care support workers in Manitoba, including in both private and personal care homes.

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 calls on public health officials to conduct immediate inspections of private personal care homes

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling on public health officials, including the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, to immediately conduct in-person inspections at each private personal care home that currently has COVID-positive cases, and automatically launch inspections for any future outbreaks.

“We need to be proactive and have public officials inspect these privately-operated homes,” says Shannon McAteer, CUPE Health Care Coordinator. “The results of the inspection during the Parkview Place outbreak yielded important findings and recommendations, including staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE) that can help that facility fight the spread of COVID-19, but we cannot let other facilities get to that point.”

CUPE learned on Tuesday, that Maples Personal Care Home, operated by Revera, now has 70 active cases of COVID-19, including seven staff.

“Government and private operators dragged their feet before, and we cannot have a repeat of what happened at Parkview Place,” said McAteer. “We are asking for public health inspectors to immediately conduct in-person reviews at all private care homes with current outbreaks, and automatically launch inspections at future outbreaks to ensure each home is prepared for, and can prevent an outbreak.”

CUPE represents support staff in 10 private personal care homes in Manitoba, including Revera facilities: Parkview Place; Heritage Lodge; Maples Personal Care Home; Charleswood Care Centre; Kildonan Personal Care Centre; Valleyview; and Extendicare facilities: Oakview Place; River East Personal Care Home; Tuxedo Villa; and Hillcrest Place.

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.

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

Manitoba Throne Speech threatens public education, child care, and continues to hurt front-line health care – CUPE

The Manitoba Throne Speech offers little reassurance that the provincial government will support public education and child care, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“With the elimination of the education property tax, we are concerned that the government will resort to school cuts, especially under the auspices of the K-12 review,” said Abe Araya, President of Manitoba. “Where is the government going to come up with funding for our children’s education?”

The Throne Speech also introduces the government’s plans to increase private child care spaces in the province, including for capital investments in private child care facilities.

“The government should be focused on increasing public, affordable child care across Manitoba, rather than subsidizing private facilities that could end up costing families more,” said Araya. “Childcare advocates have been calling for fully funded public child care in the province, and this government is going the opposite direction”.

CUPE Manitoba President Abe Araya, and CUPE 204 President Debbie Boissonneault at the Manitoba Throne Speech

The government’s sweeping changes to the health care system continues to impact front-line health care support staff.

“As the government and health authorities continue to implement their restructuring of health care, support workers remain understaffed and under-valued,” said Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE Local 204 representing Community and Facility Support staff in the WRHA and Shared Health.

“We need investments in support staff positions, as well as a commitment from the province that they will not be privatizing or contracting out any health care services”.

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.

 

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.