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Back to bargaining basics

It’s union terminology time!

March 31, 2024 marked the expiry of MAHCP’s Central Table Collective Agreements, and we’re heading back to the bargaining table immediately, starting Monday, April 8. Meanwhile, Aboriginal Health & Wellness, Canadian Blood Services and Community Therapy Services are currently in bargaining. With all this activity, it’s a good time for a lingo refresher and to revisit some frequently asked questions.

Do you know what it means when we say ‘bargaining’ or when we refer to ‘collective bargaining’? What is a Collective Agreement? What is the ‘Central Table’? What are bargaining proposals, and what do we do with them?

Whether you’ve been a union member for decades or you’re new to a union position, you may not be familiar with all the union terms and processes. Today, we’re talking bargaining.

Photo: Central Table Bargaining Committee Chair & MAHCP Treasurer Wayne Chacun
  • When we bargain, we’re striving for better wages, enhancements to workplace benefits, improved working conditions, and job-related protections. Do we get everything we want? No – and that’s why it’s called bargaining. It’s a negotiation. We also refer to the process as ‘collective bargaining‘, because we’re negotiating collectively (on members’ behalf), unlike in non-unionized jobs where you’re negotiating and advocating for yourself.

  • The Central Table (taken from the phrase of ‘being at the bargaining table’) represents 95% of MAHCP’s membership. These three agreements cover the majority of our members working in Shared Health, Northern Health Region and WRHA-Churchill Employers Organizations.

  • Your Central Table Bargaining Committee is made up of Lead Negotiator and MAHCP Executive Director Keely Richmond, Bargaining Committee Chair and paramedic Wayne Chacun, and a number of other members. Centre Table bargaining will be getting underway in April, with three days at the table scheduled every second week until the end of June. Stay tuned for regular Central Table Bargaining updates to your email.

  • Outside of Central Table agreements, MAHCP also bargains unique Collective Agreements on behalf of members working in several other organizations: Manitoba Clinic, Winnipeg Clinic, Brandon Clinic, Aboriginal Health & Wellness, Canadian Blood Services, Community Therapy Services, Dynacare, Jocelyn House and Manitoba Possible. Each of these agreements is negotiated by its own committee, which includes members and Labour Relations Officers knowledgeable about those sites.

  • What is a bargaining proposal? A proposal is an idea to strengthen your Collective Agreement. It could address a specific problem with existing language, where you feel the agreement does not give members the rights or protections needed. Or it could be an entirely new idea that does not exist in the current agreement but would benefit members and enhance working conditions. Proposals can cover non-monetary issues (e.g., scheduling, postings, seniority, etc.) or monetary issues (e.g., wages, premiums, allowances, etc.). 
  • How do we decide what to put forward for bargaining as a proposal package? Most proposals come from our membership, while some come from MAHCP’s Labour Relations Officers who see changes that should be made. In January 2024, we put out a call for proposals to MAHCP’s Central Table members and received more than 700 related to a variety of themes. PLEASE NOTE: the Central Table Bargaining Committee is not accepting wage-related proposals at this time. If you have a bargaining demand related to your rate of pay, please save that for now as the Committee will be issuing a separate call for wage-related proposals.

  • The Bargaining Committee undertakes a proposal vetting process, going through all proposals and categorizing by theme and level of priority. We will call for wage-related proposals shortly. When we go to bargaining, we’ll put forward a proposal package, a selection of asks that the committee has determined to provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of members. And, on the flipside, Employer Organizations also bring forward their proposal packages.

  • What happens with proposals agreed-to during bargaining? Agreed-to proposals are incorporated into the Collective Agreement (your contract) and must be adhered to by members and employers. When workplace actions go against the terms of the Collective Agreement, MAHCP Labour Relations Officers work to resolve them on your behalf, and may choose to file a grievance if they aren’t being resolved satisfactorily.

  • Collective Agreements are ratified contracts, which means they’re agreed to, signed by all parties, and brought to life for the duration of the term.

To access your current Collective Agreements, wage scales, ongoing bargaining updates and more, log in to the Member Portal any time.


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