Bill 29 Update: Union representation votes coming

Publish date: Monday, February 04, 2019

Bargaining

MNU members

Politics & Government

Regional Health Authorities

Union news

Details for union representation votes, triggered by the Pallister government’s Health Care Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act, are slowly coming into focus. Since enactment, the government has scrambled to determine how to implement the legislation, which will force unions representing a variety of job classifications within the health care sector to compete for members.

MNU has lobbied aggressively to make the case that requiring nurses to participate in representation votes is unnecessary and wasteful. MNU already represents over 97% of all unionized nurses in Manitoba.  Time and again, nurses have already chosen MNU to represent their unique, professional interests. Forcing another vote is simply unnecessary.

Unfortunately, the legislation does not explicitly allow for any exemptions as long as a job classification is represented by more than union within a health region, regardless of how many members they actually represent.

Although some new information has been provided, some key questions remain. Here’s the latest on the potential votes:

What we know

To date, Bill 29 Commissioner Robert Pruden has confirmed that voting will be conducted in two phases.

Phase I will include Interlake-Eastern, Prairie Mountain, Southern and Northern health authorities, and Phase II will include the WRHA and Shared Health. The campaign period for each Phase will be 4 weeks, followed by a one-week period – 7 consecutive calendar days – for voting. Unions will be notified 4 weeks prior to the beginning of the first campaign period. Therefore, then entire process is expected to take 14 weeks.

Voters will have the option of electronic voting or telephone voting. There will be no mail-in ballot. Voters will be able to vote from anywhere, anytime during the voting period. 24-hour access will be provided.

What we don’t know

We still don’t have answers to the big questions: WHEN nurses will be voting, or precisely WHO will be voting, given that nurses in some regions may still be exempted.

There are also a variety of administrative and procedural matters yet to be confirmed, including the rules for campaigning.

While we repeat that details are not yet confirmed, MNU remains hopeful that nurses in most health regions outside Winnipeg will be exempt from representation votes. However, nurses within the WRHA will almost certainly be drawn into representation votes this year. A vote in Shared Health also remains a possibility (HSC transfers to Shared Health in April 2019).

Rest assured, regardless of when and where the votes take place, MNU is preparing a robust campaign to ensure a strong voting turnout by nurses. In the coming months we will be communicating extensively with members to ensure awareness of the votes, and what is at stake for their union representation. MNU is a union run by nurses, for nurses, and it will be critical that nurses reaffirm their support for this model of representation by casting their ballot.

This is significant for nurses, not just because they will be asked to vote for MNU; it is an opportunity to send a message to the Pallister government that nurses are united and ready to fight back against ongoing health care cuts and changes.

Stay tuned for more voting updates in the weeks and months ahead. MNU will be sharing information via mail, phone, e-mail and events at your workplace during the yet-to-be-approved campaign period. In the meantime, visit manitobanurses.ca for the latest information and news.

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