Frequently Asked Questions
General Questions / Structure of the Association
- What does the Union do for me? Why should I be in a union?
- How do I submit resolutions for the Annual General Meeting and what does one make resolutions on?
- How can my Staff Rep help me?
- How can I become a Staff Rep?
- When I have a problem at work, what should I do?
- What is the grievance process and how long will it take to resolve?
- When does a grievance go to arbitration?
- If my workload is such that I can't take my meal break, what are my options?
- Am I required to work overtime?
- What are my options if I think that I'm working in an unsafe situation?
- What do I do if I'm asked to do a job that belongs to another union?
- If my holidays have been authorized but I now have to change job sites do I still get to take them when I planned?
- Can my employer make me take my vacation in minimum blocks of a week?
- When is the Collective Agreement up?
- When do we start negotiating for a new Collective Agreement?
- How does one submit a proposal for Central Table negotiations?
- What is the process of negotiating a contract?
- How is the Central Table negotiating team chosen?
- Am I obligated to accept the recommendations of the negotiating committee?
- What is Central Bargaining vs Non-Central Table Bargaining?
- Why do some occupational groups get a higher increase than other groups?
- Why can't I find out more about our proposals and the employers counter proposals during negotiations?
- If we are negotiating a new contract, do I still have a valid contract?
- Where is my Collective Agreement, and why does it take so long to get a copy of it?
- What do I have to do during a strike?
- What do I have to do to get strike pay?
- How much do you get paid?
- How long can a strike last?
- What does the Essential Services Agreement mean and what does it cover?
1. What does the Union do for me? Why should I be in a union?
The union gives us protection and strength. Collectively we can negotiate for better wages and ensure fair working conditions. Prior to organized union involvement, employers could, at their whim, cut wages, play favourites, change the hours, etc without any recourse by the employee.
2. How do I submit resolutions for the Annual General Meeting and what does one make resolutions on?
The Call for Resolutions is published in the March newsletter. The deadline for resolutions is the last Friday in June. Resolutions accepted for change and/or additions are: Constitution and Bylaws, Standing Rules, Policy Papers. Resolutions must be specific and must be typed or in legible handwriting and must be moved and seconded by members of the Association. The mover should attend the Annual General Meeting in October to speak to the proposal as written. A telephone number should be included with the submission. A copy of this resolution form is available in the newsletter, the website, or may be obtained by calling the office.
3. How can my Staff Rep help me?
The role of the Staff Rep is to assist with members' concerns and grievances. The Staff Rep is the first line of communication between members and the Union. The Staff Rep is in contact with the LRO regarding any issues that they may need assistance with in regards to members' concerns. The Staff Rep also attends meetings and relays information from these meetings to members through bulletin boards, etc.
4. How can I become a Staff Rep?
A Staff Rep nomination form can be obtained from the MAHCP office or the MAHCP website. The nominations are generally received by the end of June to begin a two year term starting at the end of the next Annual General Meeting. In the event that they don't meet the deadline, they may submit a request for a one year term, and the Executive Council can then make a one year appointment.
5. When I have a problem at work, what should I do?
If a dispute arises between you and your employer, you should first attempt to solve the dispute by means of discussion with your supervisor. If an agreement is not reached, contact your Staff Rep/LRO to discuss having a formal meeting, and/or filing a grievance. If you don't know who your Staff Rep/LRO is, call MAHCP at (204) 772-0425 or 1-800-315-3331.
6. What is the grievance process and how long will it take to resolve?
For the Central Table Collective Agreements:
- If the dispute is not resolved by means of discussion, a grievance can be filed with your department head or designate. Grievance forms are available from your Staff Rep/LRO or can be downloaded from the MAHCP website and must be filled out within fourteen (14) days after the incident.
- Within seven (7) days after your grievance has been filed, the department head or designate shall investigate the matter.
- If your grievance has not been settled within twenty-eight (28) days after the incident became apparent, it will be sent to the Divisional Director, Human Resources or designate. The Officer then has seven (7) days to investigate the matter.
- If your grievance has not been solved within thirty-five (35) days after the incident became apparent, it may be submitted for binding arbitration within the next 14 days.
For non-Central Table please refer to your Collective Agreement under "Grievance Procedures".
It should be noted that these timelines can be extended with the agreement of the parties involved.
7. When does a grievance go to arbitration?
Many grievances cannot be solved through the grievance process and may need to be resolved by an outside independent party. Before a matter is referred to arbitration, there is an opportunity to go through the Grievance Investigation Process (GIP). The GIP is found in most of the MAHCP Collective Agreements, and is an effective way of getting a preliminary understanding to see if the grievance can succeed in arbitration. This process is not bound to only look at the narrow, legal issue at hand, but can address underlying issues and be a more effective way of dealing with issues in the workplace.
The person performing the GIP is an independent third party who has been contracted and agreed upon by both parties. Though the GIP investigator's recommendations are not binding, the advantage of this process is that if a settlement is reached, it is negotiated and agreed to by both parties.
If a satisfactory settlement of the grievance is not reached, the matter may be referred to arbitration. Before the union determines whether or not a matter will go to arbitration, the Executive Director will consider the merits of the grievance and decide whether or not it is appropriate to refer to arbitration.
The employer and the association may choose a single arbitrator or may choose to appoint a three person arbitration board. Another process called an Expedited Arbitration may be used. This is where the Labour Board appoints the arbitrator. The arbitrator will rule on the grievance based on evidence produced, credibility of witnesses, and case law. The decision of the arbitration board will be final and there will be no stoppage of work because of the grievance. The cost of a typical arbitration for a grievance can range between $30,000 and $100,000.
8. If my workload is such that I can't take my meal break, what are my options?
The MAHCP Central Table Collective Agreements state "An employee who is required to remain on duty or return to work during her meal period shall be paid at overtime rates for that entire meal period", i.e. not just for the time missed. The rates for this overtime are as follows: 1.5x for any time up to 3 hours and 2x for anything over 3 hours. The employer cannot alter any subsequent hours of work to offset your overtime. Any banking of overtime must be by mutual agreement, and used by mutual agreement.
If you are continuing to have to work through your breaks, it may be that there is a larger workload-related issue that needs dialogue with your LRO.
9. Am I required to work overtime?
Our Collective Agreement says "You may be required". You are not required to work overtime under the Collective Agreement against your wishes, unless the employer can demonstrate the following set of circumstances:
To require overtime against the employee's wishes, Manitoba labour law imposes a set of criteria to define an emergent situation (section 19). Please click here to see these criteria.
- No one else is capable
- No one else is qualified
- No one else is available or willing to do so voluntarily and you are the least senior person.
10. What are my options if I think that I'm working in an unsafe situation?
Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act the employer is obligated to provide the following:
- Reasonable and proper provisions for the establishment / maintenance of staff safety in the workplace. This can include the following:
An employee does have the right to refuse work that they can reasonably expect to cause harm, injury, or death to result if that job function is undertaken without the above being readily in place.
- Procedures / Policies / Guidelines
- Training / Clothing / Equipment
- Assistance - be it material or personnel
11. What do I do if I'm asked to do a job that belongs to another union?
It is generally accepted and understood that one union will not do the job function of another, but the employer has been known to ask this. So you might want to try this:
What has happened, however, is that once the other union gets involved the pressure eases significantly. Most unions are very protective of who can do what and when.
- Advise the employer that that's another union's job
- Advise staff rep (MAHCP) and LRO of the demand
- File grievance if compliance is demanded
Ultimately, if your employer insists on you doing this task, do it first, and grieve it later.
12. If my holidays have been authorized but I now have to change job sites do I still get to take them when I planned?
If the new job site is an MAHCP job site, the holidays you had authorized remain the same as long as the new department's operations are not affected or another employee's scheduled holidays are not disrupted.
13. Can my employer make me take my vacation in minimum blocks of a week?
MAHCP Central Table contracts allow the flexibility of vacations to be taken in increments of one day. Therefore, though you might say you have 3 weeks of holidays, you actually have 15 days of holidays and can be taken as blocks of weeks or one day at a time. This is an advantage for the employee. You can take off a few days at a time if you choose, instead of being forced to take vacation in one week blocks. For non-Central Table Collective Agreements, please consult your contract under "Annual Vacation."
14. When is the Collective Agreement up?
The central table contract expired March 31, 2010.
15. When do we start negotiating for a new Collective Agreement?
We begin negotiations prior to the end of the contract. Typically we will state our intentions to commence negotiations of a new Collective Agreement 6 months prior to the end of the contract and invite the employer to begin negotiations. Since both parties have to agree to negotiate, if the employer does not choose to meet, the union has to wait for the employer to agree to begin the bargaining process. Ultimately they can postpone the process until the contract is expired and then they are obligated to begin negotiating at that time.
16. How does one submit a proposal for Central Table negotiations?
An individual or a group can submit proposals for consideration for collective bargaining. There are forms on the website or newsletter where these ideas can be recorded and it is then submitted to the office. Proposals need to be submitted by a specific deadline to be considered, and are then reviewed and prioritised by the Vetting Committee. If you have a proposal you would like to bring forward, it would also be helpful to have the form accompanied with signatures to show the degree of support.
17. What is the process of negotiating a contract?
Proposals are put forth by both the union and management. Each negotiating group reviews these proposals, goes back to their respective committees and discusses how they will reply to these proposals (whether they will accept the proposals, offer amendments, or reject them). With each meeting held, each group will offer a revised reply to the other groups' proposals. The meetings are usually a full day and each successive meeting is booked sometimes a week or several weeks later.
Non-monetary proposals are dealt with first and agreed upon, and then monetary proposals are dealt with (i.e. wages and benefits). Once the monetary proposals have been discussed and there is no more movement on these issues, a final offer is presented to take to our membership for approval or rejection. The union will usually indicate if they are recommending approval or rejection of the offer. The membership then votes for or against the new proposed Collective Agreement.
The whole process can take several months. Some rounds of bargaining have been as long as 18 months.
18. How is the Central Table negotiating team chosen?
The negotiating team is comprised of interested members who apply to sit on the negotiating committee. The Negotiating Committee is evenly drawn from Executive Council, and from members at large, and represents a diverse group of occupations.
19. Am I obligated to accept the recommendations of the negotiating committee?
You are not obligated to accept the recommendations of the negotiating committee.
20. What is Central Bargaining vs Non-Central Table Bargaining?
Central Table bargaining involves a group of sites and contracts being negotiated simultaneously at a single negotiation session.
Local Table bargaining involves a single site and contract being negotiated in a single negotiation session.
Whether Central Table or Local Table bargaining is used will depend upon mutual agreement with the employer and the union. Factors that would influence which type of bargaining is to be used are:
- Similarity of contracts
- Whether the employer is a private group or a public organization.
21. Why do some occupational groups get a higher increase than other groups?
It is simply supply and demand. When the employer has job vacancies that are continually hard to fill, they may choose to compensate these positions above a general increase as an incentive to attract people to these positions or keep them in positions (referred to as recruitment and retention).
22. Why can't I find out more about our proposals and the employers counter proposals during negotiations?
The reason for this is simply neither side wants to 'tip their hand' to the other side. Negotiations can be delicate and each side does not want to reveal what their ultimate goals are or what their deal-breakers are. If these are disclosed to membership this info may get back to management and can disadvantage us in our negotiations. It is understandably frustrating to members, but it is to our collective advantage to keep our ultimate objectives close to the chest.
Also, members should know that even Executive Council members not on the negotiating committee do not get extra information about negotiations. Negotiators have to sign confidentiality agreements - updates are provided as soon as possible. This usually occurs when it is time to vote.
23. If we are negotiating a new contract, do I still have a valid contract?
Yes. You are covered under the existing contract until a new one is signed.
24. Where is my Collective Agreement, and why does it take so long to get a copy of it?
Once the new Collective Agreement is settled, each of the 24 Collective Agreements must be proofed by each side. When that task is complete, both the Union and management must sign off personally in ink (no photocopies). Each Collective Agreement has many signatures (the contract itself, and each Memorandum of Understanding). This amounts to thousands of signatures per bargaining team for each signatory. This represents approximately 132 person hours for the union's team alone. This is then repeated by the management team. Finally, they are ready to be sent to the printers, a task which may take weeks for the thousands of printed copies produced and mailed.
25. What do I have to do during a strike?
If we are on strike, you need to check with your Strike Captain to see if you are in the Essential Services group. The Essential Services numbers are negotiated through the bargaining process. Strike Captains schedule members for either strike duties (ex: picket line), or for the provision of Essential Services. Individuals who do not report for strike duties, do not get paid.
26. What do I have to do to get strike pay?
To obtain strike pay you must volunteer to work on the picket line or with other strike related duties.
27. How much do you get paid?
In the event of a work stoppage, strike pay of up to $125.00 per week may be made available to employees involved in the job action. Strike pay starts after 7 days of work stoppage. Once the defence fund is depleted, strike pay may cease to be offered.
28. How long can a strike last?
The length of a strike can vary greatly. Once a strike action is initiated, the strike will continue until outstanding issues are settled.
The employer or union can apply to the Labour Board to settle the provisions of a new Collective Agreement by applying to the board in writing. They can only do so if:
- At least 60 days have elapsed since the strike or lockout has commenced
- The parties have attempted to conclude a new Collective Agreement with the assistance of a conciliation officer or mediator for at least 30 days during the period the strike or lockout
- And the parties have not concluded a new Collective Agreement.
29. What does the Essential Services Agreement mean and what does it cover?
The Essential Services Agreement refers to employees who are considered essential and must report for work as scheduled by the Strike Captain. Essential Services numbers are negotiated during the bargaining process. The number of employees deemed essential can vary greatly from department to department and from facility to facility.