Why are these votes taking place?
The MGEU and other unions have opposed health care representation votes since the Pallister Government introduced Bill 29, The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act, in 2017. We feel the votes are unnecessary and cause needless disruptions for health care workers. However, since Bill 29 is now law the votes will happen, which is why the MGEU is providing health care workers with the information they need to make an informed choice.
When will votes take place?
It’s expected that voting will happen in the next few months. The Commissioner will provide four weeks’ notice before campaigning and voting begins. The votes will be held in two phases:
- Phase 1 will be voting for the bargaining units in the rural Regional Health Authorities (Northern, Southern Health-Sante, Interlake-Eastern and Prairie Mountain). There will be a four week campaign period in this phase followed by a one week voting period.
- Phase 2 begins immediately following Phase 1 and involves votes for the bargaining units in the WRHA and Shared Health. There will also be a four week campaign period in this phase, followed by a one week voting period.
This means that once the votes are called by the Commissioner, the entire process will take about 14 weeks to complete.
How will people be able to vote?
An independent third party will conduct the votes electronically. That means health care workers will cast their vote during a specified voting period using a computer, mobile device, or touch-tone phone. Detailed instructions will be provided to health care workers, who can choose to vote by either logging in to a website or by using a touch-tone phone.
The ballot will contain a list of eligible unions (in random order) and workers will be asked to choose one. Whoever receives the most votes will be the successful union and will be responsible for representing all employees in the new bargaining unit, regardless of which union represented those members before the vote.
There will be no mail-in ballots.
Will voting be anonymous?
Yes. The Commissioner has assured us that the voting process will be completely anonymous. For voting security, it will be known WHO voted, but not HOW anyone voted — a similar practice to other types of elections.
Are workers voting to choose a contract?
No. The Commissioner says that workers are voting on which union will represent you and negotiate on your behalf. You are not voting to choose a collective agreement, but you are making a decision based on which union you believe will best represent you, speak up for you, and fight for you in the new round of negotiations, and into the future.
When can collective bargaining begin?
Once votes are finished and the successful union is chosen, collective bargaining can begin. How soon that happens after the votes will be up to the successful union and the employer. Some new bargaining units will include many existing collective agreements, which means bargaining could be a complicated, time-intensive process in some cases. If the MGEU is the successful union in your vote, a bargaining committee will be elected from the membership and they will collect proposals from all new and existing members in the bargaining unit to create a proposal package to take to the bargaining table.
Existing contracts will continue to apply until a new one is negotiated.
How to learn more about these votes?
About Bill 29 and Health Care Representation votes
2017 - Province Introduces Bill 29
In 2017, the Pallister Government introduced Bill 29, The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act, to decrease the number of collective agreements and bargaining units in health care.
2018 - Province Defines Bargaining Units
In May 2018, the government proclaimed Bill 29 and appointed a Commissioner, Robert Pruden, to oversee health care representation votes.
The number of bargaining units will decrease to seven in each of the five health regions and one province-wide employer (Shared Health), forcing each of the following groups of workers to be represented by one union, under one collective agreement:
(1) Professional-Technical / Paramedical workers
(2) Facility Support workers
(3) Community Support workers
(6) Medical Residents
(7) Physician Assistants and Clinical Assistants
The Bill requires votes to be held wherever there is more than one union for a similar group of workers in a health region. Workers in each group will vote for the union they want to represent them.
Example: Facility Support workers in the WRHA who are represented by several unions, will now be required to have one union and one contract within the WRHA.
For those working for Shared Health, these votes will be held on a province-wide basis, not by region.
Example: Professional/Technical/Paramedical workers from all regions who will work at Shared Health (which includes CancerCare Manitoba, EMS, and what was formerly called Diagnostic Services of Manitoba) will be required to have one union and one contract, province-wide.
2019 - Province Changes Bargaining Units
In January 2019, the Province redefined the Community Support and Facility Support bargaining units. The Community Support unit now includes all support workers who provide direct hands-on care, including health care aides in hospitals and PCHs, as well as home care workers who work in the community.
The Facility Support bargaining unit now includes support workers who provide operational support services like clerical, laundry, and maintenance.