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June 21, 2018

Story

Public-sector freeze unfair to workers

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press

Manitobans believe we should treat each other fairly and with respect, and we expect the same from our government. Unfortunately, fairness and respect do not appear to be values the Pallister government holds when it comes to the dedicated public-sector workers who work hard every day to deliver the services we all count on.

As a result of the government’s blatant disregard for the rights of working people, the Partnership to Defend Public Services — a coalition of 29 unions and labour organizations — is taking the Pallister government to court to stand up for the constitutionally protected right to free and fair collective bargaining.

For many years, Manitoba has avoided major labour unrest and experienced relatively few strikes and lockouts. This stable labour-relations climate was good for working families and for businesses alike, helping to support good, stable jobs and growing our economy.

This period of labour peace did not happen by accident. It was supported in our province by clear and fair rules that carefully and sensibly balanced the interests of workers and employers in the workplace to ensure fairness. Government worked with labour and business to support an environment in which collective bargaining could take place in a free and fair fashion and deals could be negotiated that worked for both sides.

When problems emerged, all parties came to the table and worked through them, together. They talked, they listened, they tried to understand each other’s perspectives, they problem-solved and they found compromises.

The preamble to Manitoba’s Labour Relations Act sets out the importance of collective bargaining: "It is in the public interest of the Province of Manitoba to further harmonious relations between employers and employees by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining between employers and unions as the freely designated representatives of employees." Collective bargaining has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada as a right protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Collective bargaining works for several reasons. First, it requires workers to come together and prioritize things such as safer working conditions, fair wages and retirement plans and then negotiate their narrowed-down list with their employer.

Second, collective bargaining requires compromise. Just as employers do not want to see their operations halted, workers do not want to see the services they provide affected, or the paycheques their families rely on disappear.

And last, the process provides stability for workers and employers through the life of the contract. In other words, a deal is a deal.

But this process has been undermined by the Pallister government, which used the heavy hand of legislation to freeze the wages of more than 120,000 public-sector workers in Manitoba, without even coming to the bargaining table to try to negotiate a deal. Bill 28, the so-called Public Services Sustainability Act, tramples on the collective bargaining rights of the workers who provide public services to all Manitobans.

These workers keep our province moving, providing health care to those who are sick and injured, educating our young people, taking care of the water and forests that we all enjoy, making sure our roadways are safe and doing hundreds of other jobs we all rely on every day.

The act fundamentally undermines their right to a fair collective-bargaining process. And in that way, it’s unfair and it’s unconstitutional.

To be clear, this right doesn’t guarantee workers any particular outcome from collective bargaining, but it does guarantee the right to engage in a meaningful process of collective bargaining. It requires employers and unions to come to the bargaining table and try, in good faith, to negotiate a collective agreement.

Manitoba’s public-sector unions were willing to come to the table with practical ideas to help reduce the deficit, but the Pallister government was never serious about consulting. They opted to legislate rather than negotiate, so public-sector unions had no choice but to challenge their unconstitutional law in court.

We all have a part to play in working toward a balanced budget. In campaigning during the last provincial election, Brian Pallister promised to protect front-line services and respect the workers who deliver them. But balancing the budget should not come at the expense of the public services that Manitoba families count on, or the dedicated Manitobans who provide them.

As unions have always done, we will continue to stand up for workers, and for fair treatment and fair compensation for the hard work that they do. And we will be there to push back against the Pallister government’s plans to cut services and hurt working families in our province.

- Kevin Rebeck is the president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour.

 

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June 19, 2018

MFL News

2018 Al Cerilli Scholarship awarded to Sheena Sanders of PSAC Local 55600

The MFL's Young Member Committee is proud to award this year's Al Cerilli Scholarship to Sheena Sanders. Sheena is an active member of PSAC Local 55600, and currently serves as the the Vice President of Academics for the Direct Chartered Local at the University of Winnipeg. She was also elected to be part of the local's bargaining committee. 

Sheena works as a marker at the University of Winnipeg and is completing a BA in Accounting, minoring in Human Resources. Her ultimate goal is to find employment in a union environment in the field of Finance. 

MFL President Kevin Rebeck awarded Sheena the scholarship today. We wish her all the best in her studies.

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May 30, 2018

MFL News

Partnership to Defend Public Services takes Pallister government to court

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the injunction request filed by the Partnership to Defend Public Services against the Pallister government’s wage freeze legislation (The Public Services Sustainability Act) was heard in court. 

PDPS lawyers Garth Smorang and Shannon Carson of Myers LLP made the case that the legislation is causing irreparable harm to the bargaining process in Manitoba’s public sector, and that an injunction should be granted against the Act to allow free and fair collective bargaining to occur until the full Constitutional challenge of the legislation is heard and decided.

Manitoba’s labour movement was well represented in the courtroom. As the Winnipeg Free Press reported, “the courtroom was packed with union leaders.”

The PDPS has put forward its best arguments on behalf of Manitoba’s dedicated public sector workers, and we await the judge’s decision, expected sometime this summer. Court dates for hearing the PDPS’s full Constitutional challenge have not yet been set.

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April 30, 2018

Story

Workers at Aryzta vote to strike

April 29, 2018

On Sunday, April 29, the UFCW Local 832 members working at Aryzta finished ratification meetings that took place over the weekend and voted 60 percent to reject the company’s final offer and go on strike. Workers will begin walking the picket line effective 8 a.m., Monday, April 30.

Workers at Aryzta need to report to the strike trailer at 8 a.m. where they will be given strike vests, and strike rules will be explained.

On meetings that took place March 3 and 4, members voted 96 percent to give the bargaining committee strike mandate if a fair deal could not be reached. A strike deadline was set for April 30th. The strike mandate helped move bargaining during the last round of talks but both sides couldn’t reach an agreement.

Workers at Aryzta mass-produce baked goods for sale to their customers, which consist of a mix of large retail, convenience and independent retail.

The main issues of contention are shift durations, and proposed wage increases.

“The members had concerns with working new hours, and the wages offered were not in line with the increased production workload that the workers have been taking on,” stated UFCW Local 832 President Jeff Traeger.

UFCW Local 832 represents over 200 workers at Aryzta.

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April 30, 2018

General

Workers at Aryzta vote to strike

On Sunday, April 29, the UFCW Local 832 members working at Aryzta finished ratification meetings that took place over the weekend and voted 60 percent to reject the company’s final offer and go on strike. Workers will begin walking the picket line effective 8 a.m., Monday, April 30.

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April 27, 2018

MFL News

MINISTER PEDERSEN AND LABOUR LEADERS BREAK GROUND ON NEW WORKERS MEMORIAL

(WINNIPEG) Manitoba will soon have a permanent monument to honour the memory of workers who have died on the job, announced Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck at an official groundbreaking in Memorial Park today.  

“Today we break ground to have a monument for the families, co-workers and friends of workers who lost their lives on the job to remember those they have lost, and to serve as a reminder of the importance of making our workplaces safer in this province,” said Rebeck. 

The memorial will depict a candle flame on the front to promote reflection and remembrance, signifying that the memories of loved ones live on and shine bright. The back of the memorial will show an image of a loved one in mourning, with friends and family in support. 

It will also feature labour’s phrase “Mourn the Dead, Fight for the Living,” a commitment to continue to push for stronger health and safety laws, as well as investments in prevention and educating our youth, workers, and employers, so we can identify and eliminate hazards. Everyone who goes to work has the right to come home safe and whole every day.

“No family should have to go through the pain of a loved one not coming home safely from work,” said Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen. “We are proud to support this important memorial and ensure Manitoba has strong workplace safety and health protections to keep workers safe and secure on the jobsite.”

President Rebeck added that the vision for the memorial has been a long time coming, and would not have been possible without the financial support and leadership of the labour movement, the Province of Manitoba and without the support of the families of fallen workers. 

Construction on the Workers Memorial, as well as memorials for Firefighters and Peace Officers, is expected to begin this year. 

                                                             – 30 –

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April 11, 2018

MFL News

Manitobans deserve a $15 minimum wage

Originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press 

No one should work full time and have to live in poverty. But, that is exactly what is happening to thousands of Manitoba workers because our minimum wage is a poverty wage. Having a job and working full time should be a path out of poverty, not a poverty trap, plain and simple.

The governments of Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia have already committed to increasing their minimum wage to $15 per hour. It’s time our province got on board, too.

Contrary to the myths pushed by right-wing think tanks, the evidence is clear two-thirds of the workers who earn a minimum wage are adults, and the majority are women. Keeping Manitoba’s minimum wage at poverty-wage levels means it leaves more women in poverty. It also contributes to Manitoba’s child-poverty problem.

Only 37 per cent of minimum-wage workers are students, who often need to work multiple jobs just to pay the bills. This is especially true now the Pallister government is allowing tuition fees to skyrocket.

And despite the notion most minimum-wage earners work at mom-and-pop stores struggling to survive, the evidence shows the majority of minimum-wage workers work at big businesses with more than 100 employees.

Many minimum-wage workers are moms and dads, everyday Manitobans who are working hard and trying to make ends meet.

That is why Manitoba’s labour movement stands in support of making the minimum wage a living wage at $15 per hour. Manitoba’s minimum wage of $11.15 per hour is not enough to lift those working for it out of poverty.

So far, the Pallister government has been nothing but a disappointment for minimum-wage workers. In its first year in power, it froze the minimum wage, leaving workers $400-a-year poorer because the wage didn’t keep up with the increase in the cost of living. Since then, the government passed legislation which keeps these workers trapped in poverty through paltry increases to the wage.

Last fall, the minimum wage only rose by a nickel and a dime. Working Manitobans earning a minimum wage deserve better. They deserve a path out of poverty.

Keeping the minimum wage at poverty levels forces families to make difficult decisions between paying the rent, buying groceries, or purchasing school supplies for their kids, paying for bus fare and other essential things.

But a phased-in increase to the minimum wage up to $15 per hour would have a positive impact on the economy, as minimum-wage earners spend the greatest proportion of their income on consumer goods and services, mostly in the local economy.

Ask any small-business owner what they need to grow their business, and they’ll tell you it’s important to have customers with money in their pockets to spend.

When employers pay poverty wages, greater financial pressure is placed on government to support families to make ends meet. By paying a living wage, employers assume their fair share of this responsibility.

All workers should be guaranteed a minimum wage which is a living wage. The time has come to tell the Pallister government $15 is fair.

Kevin Rebeck is president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour.

 

 

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March 12, 2018

MFL News

Pallister government's Budget 2018 a disappointment for working families

At a time when Manitoba’s economy is slowing down, the Pallister government’s budget is a missed opportunity to protect services and create jobs for families in our province.

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March 7, 2018

MFL News

2018 Al Cerilli Scholarship

Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Al Cerilli Manitoba Federation of Labour Scholarship. The scholarship is a $500 award presented annually by the MFL Young Members Committee to a member of an MFL affiliated union enrolled in a continuing education or post-secondary program.

For more information about the scholarship and to download the application form, click here.

 

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February 5, 2018

Story

Province's prints all over labour fiasco

So, who’s going to write the cheque?

The Manitoba Labour Board ruled this week that the University of Manitoba engaged in unfair labour practices during bargaining with its faculty association (UMFA) in 2016. The independent tribunal said U of M bargained in bad faith when it followed an order from the Pallister government not to tell UMFA that the province was imposing a one-year wage freeze on public-sector workers as part of its ongoing cost-cutting campaign.

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Upcoming Events

Winnipeg Labour Council Labour Day March and Picnic

Monday, September 03, 2018 at 1:30 pm until Monday, September 03, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Vimy Ridge Park, 821 Preston Ave.

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