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October 1, 2020

MFL News

MANITOBA FEDERATION OF LABOUR VOTES TO SUPPORT STELLA’S BOYCOTT

The Manitoba Federation of Labour, representing over 100,000 unionized workers in the province, is supporting the call by UFCW 832 to boycott all Stella’s locations in the province, MFL president Kevin Rebeck announced today following a vote by the MFL’s Executive Council. 

“Workers at the Stella’s Sherbrook location are on strike because of the continued disrespect shown to them by their employer,” said Rebeck. “And instead of realizing the error of their ways, this employer continues to dig in and treat their workers poorly. Enough is enough, it is time for to show your support for fairness in the workplace and boycott this employer until they start treating workers with respect.”

As a result of constant attempts at worker intimidation and suppression, UFCW 832 is calling on the public and the broader labour community to boycott Stella’s at all locations:

1.    Stella’s Sherbrook – 116 Sherbrook Street

2.    Stella’s Catering & Commissary – Unit16 – 1100 Waverley Street

3.    Stella’s Bakery – 110 Sherbrook

4.    Stella’s Grant – 195 Grant Avenue

5.    Stella’s at Plug In – 460 Portage Avenue

6.    Stella’s au CCFM – 340 Provencher Boul.

7.    Stella’s on Pembina – 1463 Pembina Highway

8.    Stella’s YWG – This location is closed

The strike and boycott will continue until either the employer come to the table, and we resolve the outstanding issues. Or at the end of 60 days, either side can apply to end the strike through alternate dispute resolution.

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You can read more about UFCW 832's call to boycott Stella's here

 

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October 1, 2020

Story

Minimum wage should not be poverty wage

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press, October 1, 2020. 

THE COVID-19 pandemic has shown how we all rely on workers whose wages are too low to pay the bills, even with full-time work. These workers deserve our thanks, but they also deserve to be paid enough to make ends meet. Having a job and working full time should be a path out of poverty, not a poverty trap.

But Manitoba’s minimum wage is one of the lowest in the country, meaning the working families relying on minimum-wage jobs are falling behind families in almost every other part of Canada. They deserve better from their government.

The evidence is clear that growing numbers of minimum-wage workers are adults. Nearly one in three minimum-wage workers has a post-secondary degree. The majority of minimum-wage earners are women, so keeping Manitoba’s minimum wage at poverty-wage levels means more working women are forced to live in poverty. It also contributes to Manitoba’s child poverty problem.

And despite the commonly held notion that most minimum-wage earners are teenagers working at mom and pop stores while attending school, the truth is that minimum-wage workers are more likely to work at businesses that employ more than 100 people, and they are more likely to have worked for the same employer for more than one year.

A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba office shows that the current minimum wage of $11.90 is not enough to raise workers who earn it out of poverty. We need to increase the minimum wage up to $15 an hour in order to ensure full-time minimum-wage workers earn enough to stay out of poverty.

Minimum-wage workers are moms and dads, everyday Manitobans who are working hard and trying to make ends meet. But they are struggling. Keeping the minimum wage at poverty levels forces families to make difficult decisions between paying the rent, buying groceries, or school supplies for their kids, bus fare and other essential things.

The financial insecurity faced by workers is compounded by the fact many of them do not have any access to paid sick leave at work. The lower-paid the work is, the less likely it is that workers are to have access to paid leave in the workplace. This is particularly important for those Manitobans working in lower-wage jobs and in the service sector. The vast majority of these workers do not have job-protected paid leave provided by their employers.

According to recent data, only 48 per cent of the workforce in Winnipeg has access to any paid workplace leave at all, and workers in the accommodation and food-services sectors have the least amount of access to paid leave.

Our chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, has stressed for months that workers must stay home if they are sick, in the interest of public health and stopping the spread of the coronavirus. But to make this happen, workers need to have the ability to choose to stay home without taking a pay cut if they are sick or need to self-isolate. Forcing workers into the impossible position of choosing between staying home and earning a paycheque simply will not cut it.

Premier Brian Pallister was in the news a few months ago saying he is committed to a paid sick leave program to deal with this issue. But workers are still waiting to see any tangible results, and they are no better off than they were six months ago. With experts advising that we could continue to see a continued rise in COVID-19 transmission this fall, all workers need to have a paid sick leave program in place immediately. Now is the time for this government to deliver for working families.

The pandemic has shown that governments can act quickly on priorities when they have the will to do so. It is time to support working families in our province by bringing in a minimum wage that is enough to pay the bills, and by providing paid leave for workers to help them do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Kevin Rebeck is the president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour

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June 11, 2020

MFL News

PARTNERSHIP TO DEFEND PUBLIC SERVICES WINS COURT CASE

Manitoba’s labour movement has won an important victory for workers and their Charter-protected right to collective bargaining, Manitoba Federation of Labour president Kevin Rebeck announced today on behalf of the Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS).

“Today’s ruling clearly shows that the Pallister government’s heavy-handed law violates the right to collective bargaining for 120,000 Manitobans who work in the public sector,” said Rebeck. 

Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice McKelvey ruled that the Pallister government’s Public Services Sustainability Actand its actions to impede collective bargaining in the province are a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedomsand workers’ right to collective bargaining. Today’s ruling confirms that the Public Services Sustainability Act is unconstitutional.  

“We said all along that this government was violating the rights of workers, and that Manitoba should allow the tried and tested process of collective bargaining to take place in the public sector,” added Rebeck. “Now, workers and employers can get back to the bargaining table when it becomes safe to do so without the threat of this unconstitutional legislation hanging over their heads.”

Rebeck added that he was glad to see the ruling so strongly struck down the government’s law and rejected its legal arguments, cautioning that the Pallister government needs to stop interfering with collective bargaining in the public sector with further unconstitutional legislation. He noted that workers throughout the public sector have been working under expired contracts for years, and are now facing the additional challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I want to thank Manitoba’s labour movement and our great legal team for this substantial victory for working people,” said Rebeck. “Manitoba’s unions will always be there to fight for workers’ rights on the job, and this legal victory represents another step in the pursuit of workplace justice.“

As was agreed at the beginning of the trial, the court will now set further dates to determine what financial and other remedies will be payable to the union plaintiffs by the government, including compensation for legal costs.

The Partnership to Defend Public Services represents more than 110,000 workers who are members of: AESES, CUPE, General Teamsters Local 979, IBEW 2034, IBEW 2085, IBEW 435, Operating Engineers of Manitoba Local 987, LALA, MAHCP, MGEU, MNU, MTS, PIPSC, UA Local 254, PSAC, UFCW 832, UMFA, UNIFOR, USW 7106, USW 7975, USW 8223, USW 9074, UWFA, WAPSO IFPTE Local 162, BUFA, IATSE Local 63, UBC Local 1515, PCAM, and the MFL. 

You can read the court decision here.

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May 25, 2020

Story

Strategic investments must be government's priority

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press

THE COVID-19 pandemic is having severe and unprecedented impacts on people, jobs and the economy.

In the interest of public health, entire sectors of our economy have been closed or dramatically scaled-back, and we face the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. In Manitoba, tens of thousands of workers have lost their jobs and seen their hours cut back, as families struggle with rising household debt and poverty.

 

Canada’s public health-care system, supported by dedicated health-care professionals, has been there for us throughout the pandemic. But there are alarming cracks, including inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), staffing shortages and serious concerns about the state of long-term seniors’ care.

In Manitoba, workers in health care and the provincial public sector have worked for years under expired contracts and frozen wages, dictated by the Pallister government.

Early progress in flattening the curve means some businesses are planning for how they might reopen, but conditions will not be "back to normal" anytime soon. With reduced incomes and public-health concerns lingering, consumer and investor confidence will likely remain flat for some time.

So far, Premier Brian Pallister has responded to the economic crisis with cuts and austerity — an approach widely criticized by economists and other experts from across the political spectrum. Laying off thousands of public-sector workers would weaken public services that families are relying on and prolong the recession by cutting incomes and purchasing power further, adding to the downward spiral.

The greatest economic risk we face is not public debt, but sustained economic misery of prolonged unemployment, weak investment and consumer demand, and a double- or even multi-dip recession.

Government must lead our recovery through forward-looking plans to protect our economic future, with the overriding goal of maintaining employment and getting thousands of Manitobans back to work in fairly paid, family-supporting jobs.

When consumer and business spending are at their lowest, we need major public investments to counter the recession and create an environment for the private sector to rebound.

With long-term interest rates at exceptionally low levels, now is the time to plan for ambitious public investments to build a better, fairer Manitoba. Our public debt burden will be far worse without a strong economy, rising incomes and increased government revenues.

We rely on public services even more during times like these. They meet important needs and provide a floor to support our most vulnerable. The pandemic has revealed concerning gaps that must be addressed in our social safety net. We need to increase investments in public services and ensure we care for all members of our society.

We also need strategic investments in roads, schools, hospitals, flood protection, colleges and universities, child-care centres, public housing, hydro, public transit and building retrofits to kick-start the economy, create jobs and support Manitobans to return to work.

Workplace health and safety must be prioritized, with government setting the proper tone through prevention programs and inspections. Workers need proper PPE and training and easy-to-access workers’ compensation coverage, as well as paid sick leave so they aren’t forced to choose between staying home and keeping a paycheque.

Women in the workforce have experienced the majority of job losses as a result of their over-representation in sectors especially hard hit by the pandemic, and our recovery plan will need to ensure they have opportunities to rejoin the labour market and obtain better-paying and more secure employment in the future.

To enable parents, especially women, to return to work while ensuring safe and enriching care for their children, we must rebuild a child-care system that is universally accessible and affordable. This will require greater public investment to stabilize and adequately fund centres, open up more spaces and retain skilled, fairly compensated staff.

The pandemic has highlighted how we all benefit from the hard work of thousands of Manitobans in low-wage sectors, such as grocery store workers, early-childhood educators, cleaners, those who work with vulnerable Manitobans, and many others earning minimum wage or just above it. Our minimum wage should no longer leave its earners living in poverty, even with full-time work. All workers deserve a living wage that helps them make ends meet.

We will need a truly "all-hands-on deck" plan if we want to get Manitoba back to work. The Pallister government needs to reverse course on cuts and invest instead in helping our economy to recover by laying the foundation for good, family-supporting jobs in the private and public sectors.

Kevin Rebeck is president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour.

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May 1, 2020

MFL News WCB

MFL shines light on WCB rejection of Covid-19 cases

The Manitoba Fedration of Labour has learned that WCB COVID-19 claims by workers in Manitoba are being approved at an alarmingly low rate, with just six per cent of claims having been accepted so far (7 out of 123). The vast majority of claims related to COVID-19 have been submitted by health care workers. The MFL has been calling for the Pallister government to provide presumptive WCB coverage for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic here in Manitoba.

After learning of these deeply concerning numbers, President Kevin Rebeck has once again written the Minister of Finance to encourage the government to do the right thing and provide presumptive WCB coverage for COVID-19 to make sure workers have access to a simpler, more straightforward claims process that provides them the supports they need. You can read that letter here

You can read a previous letter from President Rebeck on this issue here

 

 

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April 6, 2020

MFL News General

MFL calls for the extension of health care coverage for uninsured Manitobans

Today, MFL President Kevin Rebeck wrote to the Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living to join in the call for the Government of Manitoba to extend health care coverage for those residents in Manitoba who are currently uninsured and do not meet the eligibility criteria for provincial health care coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we know that the health of our province depends on the health of all Manitobans. When those that are most vulnerable are denied health care, and believe they are unable to access free testing and treatment for COVID-19, it puts our entire community at risk of a more rapid and greater spread of the virus.

Migrant workers, international students, and undocumented migrants who have lost their status, are all at risk of contracting the virus and spreading it without access to easily acceptable free public healthcare. Currently some have some type of insurance, often private emergency service insurance that may not cover COVID-19 assessments, testing or treatment. Others may face the unaffordable barrier of paying up front for services and waiting for insurance companies to reimburse them. And still others have no health insurance at all. These circumstances, along with the fear of possible detention or deportation negatively influence these members of our community to put all of us at risk by not seeking healthcare services. You can read President Rebeck's letter here

 

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April 1, 2020

MFL News WCB

Manitoba Federation of Labour continues to call for presumptive workers compensation coverage for COVID-19

Statement on behalf of Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour:

Many Manitobans are going to work to be there for us during the COVID-19 pandemic. From health care to grocery stores to public services, these Manitobans are putting themselves at greater risk to exposure to COVID-19 on the job. 

We need to make sure that the right type of workers compensation coverage is in place for them, and the right type of coverage is called presumptive. So far, the Pallister government has failed to commit to presumptive workers compensation for COVID-19.

The claims process for this coverage would be easier for workers to navigate, and would get them the supports they need more rapidly. We should not force workers who are exposed to COVID-19 on the job to go through a longer, more difficult claim process. 

We call on the Minister of Finance to commit that workers compensation coverage for exposure to COVID-19 on the job will be provided on a presumptive basis, as it is with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

We owe it to the Manitobans who are showing up for us in this pandemic to have the right workers compensation coverage in place for them. The time to act is now. 

                                                                                                                                   

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March 29, 2020

Health & Safety

Manitoba Federation of Labour urges increased funding for Workplace Safety and Health to respond to increased demands of COVID-19 pandemic

(Winnipeg) - The Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) is urging the Pallister government to immediately restore $500,000 in funding cuts to Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health to help the branch meet the increased demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, MFL President Kevin Rebeck announced today.

“A pandemic is a bad time to cut workplace safety and health, but Manitoba’s Budget 2020 does just that,” said Rebeck. “We need our workplace safety and health officers to be well-equipped and fully-resourced to be able to respond to workplace concerns about COVID-19, as well as to provide information to workers and employers to help them prevent the spread of the virus.”

Trained provincial safety and health officers are best-placed to educate and respond to worker and employer questions and concerns about preventing COVID-19 transmission on the job. These officers should also be equipped with personal protective equipment when physically responding to workplace investigations.

Rebeck added that with new rules in place to limit public gatherings, Manitoba’s workplaces remain the largest congregations of people in our province, and so ensuring they remain safe is critically important to the overall public health response to COVID-19. These funding cuts to the branch affects the ability for safety and health officers and staff to be able to inspect workplaces and help respond to workers concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We know that Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health is receiving increased requests for information about how to keep workplaces safe during this pandemic, and workers are wondering about their right to refuse unsafe work,” said Rebeck. “We hope that the Pallister government will do the right thing and increase funding for this important front-line service.”

Manitoba’s unions have been flooded with calls about the pandemic from workers who are raising concerns of the safety of their workplaces and what prevention measures their workplaces should take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The province has released a number of public health orders that focused on public gatherings, the hospitality, retail and transportation sectors, but did not speak to other industries that depend daily on large workforces. 

You can read President Rebeck's letter to the Minister of Finance regarding workplace safety and health cuts here.  

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March 23, 2020

MFL News WCB

Manitoba Federation of Labour calls for workers compensation coverage for workers exposed to COVID-19 on the job

Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck about the need for workers exposed to COVID-19 on the job to be covered under Workers Compensation immediately:

With the growing number of cases of COVID-19 in our province, the Manitoba Federation of Labour has written to the Minister of Finance to highlight the urgent need to put a plan in place to ensure workers exposed to COVID-19 on the job are covered by workers compensation.

Even with many Manitobans in isolation or practicing self-distancing measures, we are all still relying on many workers to attend their jobs to provide health care services, operate grocery stores and pharmacies, deliver meals, transport essential goods, and maintain vital transit, infrastructure, community and emergency services, as well as other desperately needed services like child care and flying Canadians home from abroad.

Many are putting themselves at greater risk to exposure to COVID-19 to help us all. We owe it to them to provide presumptive workers compensation coverage for all Manitobans who contract COVID-19 during the course of their employment. 

This would provide some assurance that they can continue to provide for their families if they are required to self-quarantine or seek hospitalization. The time to act is now.

You can read the letter here

                                        

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March 19, 2020

MFL News

MANITOBA FEDERATION OF LABOUR STATEMENT ON THE PROVINCIAL BUDGET

Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck on the Provincial Government Budget

We realize that this budget was originally meant to be introduced last week, but our province and economy have changed dramatically since then. 

We need an emergency economic action plan that meets our new realities: large numbers of workers experiencing reduced shifts and layoffs, schools and child-care centres shut down, businesses and non-profit organizations closing, and workers and their families struggling to stay afloat.

Working families in Manitoba, and our economy and health care system are all facing unprecedented challenges. The budget as presented does not reflect the new realities Manitoba workers are facing.

Manitobans are worried about their health and their ability to pay the bills over the coming weeks. They are worried about keeping their jobs or having jobs to come back to. People are looking to their government for support in navigating the uncertain economic times ahead. And they are looking for increased investments to meet our increased health care needs, not the flat-lined funding for health care that this budget presents.

We are calling on the Pallister government to take a necessary first step and make a clear commitment to all working Manitobans to immediately implement 14 days of job-protected leave. People need all the support they can get right now, from all levels of government.

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