Manitoba Arts Council - Local 444 - Bargaining Brief
Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Approx. Number of Members: 11
Current Contract Expires: March 31, 2021
MGEU Staff Negotiator: Kristin Sutton
Elected Bargaining Committee Members: Deirdre Tomkins, Martine Friesen and Tracey Longbottom
LATEST BARGAINING NEWS
The Manitoba Arts Council - Local 444 Bargaining Committee exchanged bargaining proposal packages with the employer on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, and negotiations continued on May 26 and May 31, and June 3 and 8, 2021.
In the past, the employer has determined its funding mandate (which determines things like wages and benefits) based on negotiations in the broader Provincial Civil Service. However, these negotiations have been delayed by a number of government tactics, including wage freeze legislation and their refusal to appoint an arbitration board.
Given this, the Local 444 Bargaining Committee has decided to hold off monetary discussions with the employer until the Civil Service agreement is settled.
Overview of Civil Service court challenge
As a result, the Civil Service 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 believes that an independent arbitration board
will provide a fair outcome, setting aside the Province’s unproclaimed
legislation. This judgement has been reinforced by recent arbitration
settlements in Manitoba’s public sector.
After filing for arbitration, the MGEU began working with legal counsel to prepare the MGEU’s presentation on behalf of all MGEU Civil Service members.
However, in September 2019, the MGEU learned that the Minister responsible for the Civil Service is refusing to appoint an arbitration panel. In effect, the Minister was denying Civil Service members their legal right to arbitration.
This left the MGEU with no choice but to file an application asking the Court of Queen's Bench to order the government to appoint an arbitrator.
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. Shortly after, the government advised that they would be appealing the decision.
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.
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 lawyer who recently retired from the Myers law firm after decades of distinguished service. The government appointed Rick Stevenson, former ADM of Labour Relations, as their nominee. Together, they agreed to appoint Michael Werier to be chairperson of the Board.Over the next several months, lawyers for the union and the government filed extensive written submissions and on September 21 and 22, 2021, made their oral arguments in front of the Board.
The Board will now consider the submissions of both parties and then determine the new terms and conditions of the agreement. A decision is expected sometime in spring 2022.
Overview of Local 444 Bargaining So Far
Members of Manitoba Arts Council - Local 444 had an opportunity to put forward their ideas and proposals for improving their collective agreement at a meeting held on March 29, 2021.