Civil Service - Components 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 - Bargaining Brief
Updated: May 25, 2022
Approx. Number of Members: 12,000
Current Contract Expires: March 29, 2019
MGEU Staff Negotiator: Sheila Gordon
Elected Bargaining Committee Members: Administration - Michelle Scebenski; Clerical - Siobhan McLeod; Corrections - James Alexander; Health - Kimberly Ross; Legal - Deb Jamerson; Physical Sciences - Brian Wilson; Social Sciences - Ciara Shattuck; Trades - Joe Dooley; MGEU 1st Vice-President - Scott Cloney
LATEST BARGAINING NEWS
On May 18, 2022, the Interest Arbitration Board awarded the terms of a
new collective agreement for MGEU Civil Service members. The MGEU was successful in being awarded
almost all of its proposals, while the Board rejected each and
every concession proposed by the Province.
See details of the awarded settlement here.
As an Award was issued to settle the terms of the collective
agreement, there will not be a ratification vote. The employer has
committed to do everything possible to make the necessary changes to the
collective agreement so that it can be signed and implemented as soon
as possible. Once that happens and the new pay plans are configured in
SAP, retroactive pay adjustments can be processed. The employer advises
that this should be done by the end of September.
Because this process was so lengthy, the Civil Service Bargaining Committee will be
back at the bargaining table in less than a year, and will be able to
tackle emerging issues like inflation and the post-Covid work
environment. Members will have an opportunity for sharing their ideas and proposals for improving the collective agreement in the fall of 2022.
Please stay tuned for more information about this process as it moves forward.
Overview of Bargaining
The Civil Service Bargaining Committee exchanged proposal packages with the employer on Monday, March 4, 2019 and negotiations began in mid-April.
Two key issues impacted the Civil Service Bargaining Committee's efforts to reach a deal on behalf of members.
THE GOVERNMENT'S WAGE FREEZE LEGISLATION, COURT HEARING
The trial for the Partnership to Defend
Public Services (PDPS) constitutional challenge of the
Public Services Sustainability Act (also known as Bill 28), the
Pallister government's wage freeze law, began on Monday, November 18, 2019.
Kevin Rebeck (MFL President), Mark Hudson (University of Manitoba Faculty Association), and Tom Paci (Manitoba Teachers’ Society) were the first witnesses called by the PDPS. MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky took the stand as the 4th PDPS witness. Economists, labour relations experts, as well as several MGEU staff were also called to testify.
All of this testimony added to the body of evidence placed before the judge, which already included 37 affidavits and more than 100 pages of agreed upon facts.
In January 2020, the PDPS and the Government filed their written arguments with the court. Final arguments were heard over three days in February 2020.
On June 11, 2020, a Court of Queen's Bench judge ruled in favour of the unions, agreeing that Bill 28 violated members' rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On August 17, 2020, the Pallister government announced it would be appealing the judge's decision.The government had until January 2021 to submit supporting documentation for its appeal by the end of January 2021 and the Partnership to Defend Pubic Services (PDPS) (which includes the MGEU and other public-sector unions) then had 30 days to file material in response.
On June 2, 2021, the Court heard from both sides in the Appeal hearing. The PDPS legal counsel made the case, once again, that the Public Services Sustainability Act (Bill 28) is unconstitutional, as it denies public sector workers of their Charter rights to sit down and negotiate fair wage increases with their employer.
On October 13, 2021, the Manitoba Court of Appeal announced it was overturning the Court of Queen’s Bench
decision in favour of workers.
On November 3, 2021, the PDPS announced it would be seeking leave from the Supreme Court of
Canada to hear an appeal of the Government of Manitoba’s public sector
wage freeze legislation.
On November 24, 2021 the government announced it would be repealing the
Services Sustainability Act (PSSA or ‘Bill 28’ wage freeze legislation),
in an effort to create a ‘fresh start’ and take a ‘different
approach’ at the bargaining table, as well as a new no-layoff commitment
However, the PSSA had already done significant damage to collective bargaining in the public sector. Thousands of public workers remain without a contract and at many bargaining tables, employers continue to insist that the wage freezes and caps in the PSSA are non-negotiable.
The repeal of the PSSA also does not deal with the fact that two Manitoba courts have issued drastically different rulings on its constitutionality.
Thus, on December 13, 2021, the MGEU, other unions, and the MFL applied to appeal to the Supreme Court in order to resolve the constitutionality of the PSSA.
THE GOVERNMENT'S REFUSAL TO APPOINT AN ARBITRATION BOARD
Civil Service collective agreement expired in March 2019, and bargaining
proposals were exchanged with the employer just prior to that. The
Province’s proposals included a long list of concessions that would
erode many rights and benefits in the collective agreement.
In April 2019, the Civil Service Bargaining Committee began bargaining meetings with the Province in good faith.
Almost immediately, these negotiations were frustrated by the Province’s
refusal to discuss wages and benefits and their unwillingness to be up
front about whether or not they intended to table the wage mandate
contained in Bill 28, the Public Service Sustainability Act. This Act,
passed in 2017 but not yet proclaimed into force by the Province, would
mandate two years of wage freezes and strict caps on wage increases in
the following two years.
The Civil Service Bargaining Committee understood that for fair and
negotiations to continue, the Province needed to be up front about
whether or not its own Bill 28 mandate would be imposed in negotiations.
The answer to this critical question influenced all other
issues at the bargaining table. By failing to be up front about their
intentions, the Province made meaningful discussions impossible.
For these reasons, the Bargaining Committee felt compelled to file for arbitration,
which allows an independent, third-party panel to hear arguments from
both sides, and determine a contract settlement. The Committee strongly
believed that an independent arbitration panel would provide a fair
outcome, setting aside the Province’s unproclaimed legislation. This
judgement was reinforced by recent arbitration settlements in
Manitoba’s public sector.
After filing for arbitration, the MGEU began working with legal counsel to prepare our presentation on behalf of all MGEU Civil Service members.
However, in September 2019, the MGEU learned that
Minister Scott Fielding refused to appoint an arbitration board, as the Civil Service Act
requires him to do upon the request of either the union or the employer. In doing so, he requested that MGEU return to the bargaining table
rather than fulfill his legal obligation to appoint an arbitration
panel. In effect, the Minister denied Civil Service members their legal right to
arbitration. The Committee was left with no choice but to go to court
to seek an order for Minister Fielding and his government to follow the
union and the Province filed written arguments on January 30, 2020 and
made their case in front of the judge on February 27, 2020.
On April 16, 2020 the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the MGEU was entirely justified in seeking arbitration on behalf of Civil Service members. In her ruling,
Judge Keyser sided firmly with the union and directed Finance Minister
Scott Fielding to appoint an arbitration panel as clearly outlined in
the Civil Service Act.
On June 1, 2020 the Minister responsible for the Civil Service wrote the MGEU to say it will be take the first step in complying with the court's order to appoint an arbitration panel. However, the Minister also said the government was appealing the judge's ruling in the MGEU's favour.
When the government appealed the original court ruling in the
MGEU's favour in August 2020, the union continued to push ahead with
preparations for the arbitration
at the same time as the appeal proceeds through the courts. Both
the MGEU and the employer nominated their representatives to the
Arbitration Board. The MGEU nominee was Tony Marques, a long-time labour
recently retired from the Myers law firm after decades of distinguished
service. The government appointed Rick Stevenson, former ADM of
Relations, as their nominee. Together, they agreed to appoint Michael
be chairperson of the Board.
On April 13, 2021, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the MGEU had a right to have an interest arbitration board appointed to determine the terms and conditions of the next Civil Service collective agreement.
This victory meant that MGEU Civil Service members would finally get a fair hearing before an independent arbitration board.
In the decision, the Minister’s appeal was dismissed, the court
order to appoint an arbitration board was confirmed, and the Minister
ordered to pay court costs to the MGEU.
An Interest Arbitration Board -- made up of a chairperson, arbitrator
Michael Werier, and two appointees, one representing the union and one
representing the government -- was appointed in spring 2021 to determine the
terms and conditions of the Civil Service collective agreement.
The Board conducted its hearings on September 21 and 22, 2021. Lawyers for the union and the government filed extensive written submissions prior to the hearing and made oral arguments at the hearing.The Board then considered the submissions of both parties to determine the new terms and conditions of the agreement.