July 19, 2012
This past week, CUPE filed requests to the Manitoba Labour Board to ask that they take the necessary steps to instigate representation votes in the Southern, Western and Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authorities.
Since the RHA amalgamations were announced, CUPE’s position has been that our priority is to remain at the bargaining table. So, on May 23, 2012, the CUPE Bargaining Committee presented the employer with a brief that made the case against a wage freeze for health care support workers.
At this meeting, the employer set up bargaining dates for July and August, however the employer said these dates would be cancelled if one of the unions decided to trigger the votes.
The following week, the MGEU Executive Board voted unanimously to trigger the representation votes.
It was CUPE’s position that our first priority should be bargaining a fair contract for our members, and that representation votes, if at all necessary, should occur after bargaining. However, almost 6 weeks after declaring their intention to trigger the votes, the MGEU had not yet done so, nor had they indicated when they intended to do so, therefore stalling bargaining indefinitely.
CUPE’s position is that this is an unacceptable situation for our members, and that we must take steps to get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible.
Therefore, on July 10th, CUPE listened to the membership by holding a virtual town hall forum where members from across Manitoba could get the most up-to-date information and ask questions about the current situation. We then asked the membership whether they believed that CUPE should trigger the votes so that we could get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible. With nearly unanimous support from the membership, CUPE immediately responded by submitting applications to the Labour Board to trigger the votes in the Southern (July 11), Western (July 12) and Interlake-Eastern (July 16) RHA’s.
The timing of the forthcoming votes is at the discretion of the Labour Board, however we expect to get a clearer sense of the timing of these votes soon.
In the meantime, CUPE members in these regions have been working diligently to ensure that health care workers in these regions have the information they need to choose CUPE as their union of choice.