MFL affiliation FAQ

Publish date: Monday, March 04, 2019

Board of Directors

MNU members

Union news

Recently, the MNU Board of Directors made the decision to begin the process of affiliating with the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL), pending ratification from voting delegates at AGM 2019. To enhance engagement with membership on this issue, below are answers to frequently asked questions for why the decision was made.

Q: What is the Manitoba Federation of Labour?

A: The MFL is an organization that brings unions together on issues of common concern. It is the provincial body of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) of which MNU is already a member. Today, the MFL represents more than 100,000 working Manitobans in the public and private sectors. As a coalition of labour unions, the MFL is responsible for amplifying the interests of its affiliates and working people across Manitoba.

Q: Why should MNU join the MFL?

A: There are several important reasons for affiliation. First and foremost, MNU already has a close working relationship with the MFL. For example, MNU was a founding member of the Partnership to Defend Public Services, the coalition of public sector unions that came together to challenge the government’s unconstitutional wage freeze, Bill 28. This partnership is led by the MFL, who have done a remarkable job coordinating and supporting this group.

Benefits of the MFL’s work

But the MFL’s work goes much further than that. Be it on pensions, workplace health and safety, or labour relations, the MFL plays a critical role in this province ensuring working people’s rights are protected both through advocacy, and through formal working relationships with the province. The MFL has championed important issues like opposing privatization in health care, and ensuring coverage for psychological injuries. They were instrumental in achieving paid leave for workers experiencing domestic violence. The MFL also has a formal role in Board appointments to the Manitoba Labour Board, Workers Compensation, and a variety of other important organizations. Indeed, their work has greatly benefited MNU members, and all Manitobans.

By formalizing our relationship, MNU will contribute to this important work, take an official seat at the table, and gain access to MFL conventions, governance meetings, educational opportunities and other initiatives which bring labour unions together to work on issues of common concern.

Affiliation is required by our current affiliates

Affiliation is also necessary for ensuring MNU abides by the rules and requirements of its current affiliates: the CLC and the Canadian Fedreation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). Last year, the CFNU advised us that we are in violation of both the CFNU and CLC constitutions by not being an affiliate of our provincial federation of labour (the MFL). By affiliating, we will remain members in good standing of both organizations, and ensure our strong national reputation is maintained.

Affiliations allow MNU to work with labour unions on common concern at different levels of government

MNU has benefited greatly from the work of our national affiliates, the CFNU and the CLC. Examples include recent enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan, lobbying for a national pharmacare plan and organizing a national campaign to stop violence against health care workers. The benefits go both ways; MNU led the way on groundbreaking PTSD legislation in 2015, and the CFNU is now bringing that issue forward federally, to benefit of nurses in other provinces. Moreover, both organizations provide a wide variety of opportunities for MNU members to participate in, providing educational, lobbying and professional development opportunities for our members across Canada and internationally. 

Solidarity

Finally, the political landscape in Manitoba has changed dramatically in recent years. A strong MFL and MNU is more important now than ever before. Premier Brian Pallister has passed laws that make it more difficult to join a union; unilaterally imposed wage freezes and violated our members’ right to collective bargaining; made cuts to health care services; and will force nurses into needless representation votes later this year. We believe organized labour must work together to fight back against these attacks on all working people, including nurses. There is strength in numbers—it’s the basic principle that drives unions. 

Q: What happens if MNU does not join the MFL?

A: MNU risks expulsion from the CFNU and CLC if it does not take steps toward affiliation with the MFL. Although expulsion would be a difficult decision for the national executives of the CFNU and CLC, there is precedent for doing so. Several years ago the British Columbia Nurses Union (BCNU) was expelled from CFNU after it was found to have violated the constitution of the CLC. Although the violation was for a different reason, it demonstrated that CFNU will take meaningful action to discipline organizations that violate their constitution.

There is a genuine urgency and responsibility to bring MNU in compliance with the constitution of our most trusted allies. Currently, MNU is the only CFNU member that is standing in violation of the CFNU and CLC constitutions. Earlier this year, the Newfoundland & Labradour and PEI nursing unions affiliated with their provincial federations. This leaves MNU as an outlier within the CFNU. In light of these facts, and the obvious benefits of formalizing our relationship, the board made the decision to recommend affiliation.

Q: How was this decision made?

A: After MNU was notified of its violation of the CFNU and CLC constitution, the Board of Directors investigated the matter over several months and considered MNU’s legal, ethical and financial responsibilities. At the November 2018 meeting, the Board made the decision to affiliate. Further discussion followed that meeting, and a special meeting was called on January 8, 2019. At the special meeting the Board and Regional/Local/Worksite Presidents had the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of CFNU Secretary-Treasurer Pauline Worsfold, and MFL President Kevin Rebeck. After thorough questioning and further discussion, the Board voted overwhelmingly in favour of recommending affiliation with the MFL, pending ratification of the decision by delegates at our 2019 AGM.

Q: How much does it cost to affiliate with the MFL?

A: The per capita cost to MNU for MFL affiliation is $1.08 per member per month. The rate will rise by $0.01 in 2020 and 2021. Further affiliation with district labour councils (where present) will add approximately $0.29 per member per month. Extrapolating those figures, the total cost to the organization will be approximately $200,000 per annum. This cost is well within the financial means of our organization and will be absorbed in our existing operating budget.

Q: Does affiliation change MNU’s status as a non-partisan organization?

A: No. MNU will remain non-partisan and this decision in no way changes our position. As practiced with current affiliates, we will not participate in partisan activities.

Q: Does affiliation affect MNU governance? Will the MFL speak on behalf of nurses?

A: No. MNU is run by Manitoba nurses, for Manitoba nurses. Our governance structure will not change. Affiliation will simply allow us to work more effectively with the MFL and other unions on issues of common concern. In turn, the MFL will offer support for our positions and help coordinate resources (i.e. the Partnership to Defend Public Services’ legal challenge against Bill 28). 

Nurses bring a unique, valuable, professional perspective to everything we do. That’s why we have our own union. Affiliation means we will be empowered to share our unique perspective, and ensure nurses’ voices are reflected in every provincial labour issue.

Q: How do I learn more about the MFL?

A: Visit the MFL’s website at www.mfl.ca for more information about their values, work, and mission to improve the lives of working Manitobans. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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