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Frequently Asked Questions

Member FAQ

General questions / Structure of the association

1. What does the union do for me? Why should I be in a union?

This union gives us protection and strength. Collectively we can negotiate for better wages and ensure fair working conditions. Prior to organized union involvement, employers could, at their whim, cut wages, play favourites, change the hours, etc. without any resources to support employees nor recourse.

2. How do I submit resolutions for the Annual General Meeting and what does one make resolutions on?

The Call for Resolutions is published in the March newsletter and on the MAHCP website. The deadline for resolutions is the last Friday in June. Resolutions accepted for change and/or additions are: Constitution and Bylaws, Standing Rules, Policy Papers. Resolutions must be specific and must be typed or in legible handwriting and must be moved and seconded by members of the Association. The mover should attend the Annual General Meeting in October to speak to the proposal as written. A telephone number should be included with the submission. A copy of this resolution form is available in the newsletter, on the website, or may be obtained by calling the office.

3. How can my Member Advocate help me?

The role of the Member Advocate is to assist with members’ concerns and grievances. They are the first line of communication between members and the union. The Member Advocate is in contact with the LRO regarding any issues that they may need assistance with in regards to members’ concerns. The Member Advocate also attends meetings and relays information from these meetings to members through bulletin boards, etc.

4. How can I become a Member Advocate?

A Member Advocate nomination form can be obtained from the MAHCP office or on the MAHCP
website. The nominations are generally received by the end of June to begin a two-year term starting at the end of the next Annual General Meeting. In the event that a nomination form is submitted after the deadline, an individual may submit a request for a one-year term, and the Executive Council can then make a one-year appointment.


5. When I have a problem at work, what should I do?

If a dispute arises between you and your employer, you should first attempt to solve the dispute by means of discussion with your supervisor. If you cannot reach an agreement with your supervisor, you may contact your Member Advocate/LRO to discuss having a formal meeting and/or filing a grievance. If you don’t know who your Member Advocate/LRO is, call MAHCP at (204) 772-0425 or 1-800-315-3331.

6. What is the grievance process and how long will it take to resolve?

For Central Table Collective Agreements:

  • If a dispute is not resolved by means of discussion, a grievance can be filed with your department head or designate. Grievance forms are available from your MAHCP Member Advocate/LRO or can be downloaded from the MAHCP website. at www.mahcp.ca. The form must be filled out within fourteen (14) days of the incident.
  • Within seven (7) days of a grievance being filed, the department head or designate shall investigate the matter.
  • If your grievance has not been settled within twenty-eight (28) days of the incident, it will be sent to the Divisional Director, Human Resources or designate. The Officer then has seven (7) days to investigate the matter.
  • If your grievance has not been solved in thirty-five (35) days since the incident became apparent, it may be submitted for binding arbitration within the next fourteen (14) days.

For non-Central Table Collective Agreements, please refer to your Collective Agreement under “Grievance Procedures”.

It should be noted that these timelines can be extended with the agreement of the parties involved.

7. When does a grievance go to arbitration?

Many grievances cannot be solved through the grievance process and may need to be resolved by an outside independent party. Before a matter is referred to arbitration, there is an opportunity to go through the Grievance Investigation Process (GIP). The GIP is found in most of the MAHCP Collective Agreements, and is an effective way of getting a preliminary understanding to see if the grievance can succeed in arbitration. This process is not bound to only look at the narrow, legal issue at hand, but may also address underlying issues and be an effective way of dealing with issues in the workplace.

The person performing the GIP is an independent third party who has been contracted and agreed upon by both parties. Though the GIP investigator’s recommendations are not binding, the advantage of this process is that if a settlement is reached, it is negotiated and agreed to by both parties.

If a satisfactory settlement of the grievance is not reached, the matter may be referred to arbitration. Before the union determines whether or not a matter will go to arbitration, the Executive Director will consider the merits of the grievance and decide whether or not it is appropriate to refer to arbitration.

The employer and the association may choose a single arbitrator or may choose to appoint a three- person arbitration board. Another process called an Expedited Arbitration may be used. This is where the Labour Board appoints the arbitrator. The arbitrator will rule on the grievance based on evidence produced, credibility of witnesses, and case law. The decision of the arbitration board will be final and there will be no stoppage of work because of the grievance. The cost of a typical arbitration for a grievance can range between $30,000 and $100,000.

Contract interpretation

8. If my workload is such that I can’t take my meal break, what are my options?

The MAHCP Central Table Collective Agreements state: “An employee who is required to remain on duty or return to work during her meal period shall be paid at overtime rates for that entire meal period”, i.e. not just for the time missed. The rates for this overtime are as follows: 1.5x for any time up to 3 hours and 2x for anything over 3 hours. The employer cannot alter any subsequent hours of work to offset your overtime. Any banking of overtime must be by mutual agreement, and used by mutual agreement.

If you are continuing to have to work through your breaks, it may be that there is a larger workload-related issue that needs dialogue with your LRO.

9. Am I required to work overtime?

Our Collective Agreement says: “You may be required”. You are not required to work overtime under the Collective Agreement against your wishes, unless the employer can demonstrate the following set of circumstances:

  • No one else is capable
  • No one else is qualified
  • No one else is available or willing to do so voluntarily and you are the least senior person.

To require overtime against the employee’s wishes, Manitoba labour law imposes a set of criteria to define an emergent situation (section 19). Please click here to see these criteria.

10. What are my options if I think that I’m working in an unsafe situation?

Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act the employer is obligated to provide the following:

  • Reasonable and proper provisions for the establishment/maintenance of staff safety in the workplace. This can include the following:
    • Procedures/Policies/Guidelines
    • Training/Clothing/Equipment
    • Assistance – be it material or personnel

An employee does have the right to refuse work that they can reasonably expect to cause harm, injury, or death to result if that job function is undertaken without the above being readily in place.

11. What do I do if I’m asked to do a job that belongs to another union?

It is generally accepted and understood that one union will not do the job function of another, but the employer has been known to ask this. So you might want to try this:

  • Advise the employer that that’s another union’s job
  • Advise your Member Advocate (MAHCP) and LRO of the demand
  • File grievance if compliance is demanded

What has happened, however, is that once the other union gets involved the pressure eases significantly. Most unions are very protective of who can do what and when.

Ultimately, if your employer insists on you doing this task, do it first, and grieve it later.

12. If my holidays have been authorized but I now have to change job sites do I still get to take them when I planned?

If the new job site is an MAHCP site, the holidays you had authorized remain the same as long as the new department’s operations are not affected or another employee’s scheduled holidays are not disrupted.

13. Can my employer make me take my vacation in minimum blocks of a week?

MAHCP Central Table contracts allow the flexibility of vacations to be taken in increments of one day. Therefore, though you might say you have three (3) weeks of holidays, you actually have 15 days of holidays and can be taken as blocks of weeks or one day at a time. This is an advantage for the employee. You can take off a few days at a time if you choose, instead of being forced to take vacation in one week blocks. For non-Central Table Collective Agreements, please consult your contract under “Annual Vacation.”


14. When is the collective agreement up?

15. When do we start negotiating for a new collective agreement?

We begin negotiations prior to the end of the contract. Typically we will state our intentions to commence negotiations of a new Collective Agreement five (5) months prior to the end of the contract and invite the employer to begin negotiations. Since both parties have to agree to negotiate, if the employer chooses not to meet, the union has to wait for the employer to agree to begin the bargaining process. Ultimately the employer can postpone the process until the contract is expired and then they are obligated to begin negotiating at that time.

16. How does one submit a proposal for Central Table negotiations?

An individual or a group can submit proposals for consideration for collective bargaining. There are forms on the MAHCP website, and linked from MAHCP newsletters, where these ideas can be recorded and it is then submitted to the office. Proposals need to be submitted by a specific deadline to be considered, and are then reviewed and prioritized by the Vetting Committee. If you have a proposal you would like to bring forward, it would also be helpful to have the form accompanied with signatures to show the degree of support.

17. What is the process of negotiating a contract?

Proposals are put forth by both the union and management. Each negotiating group reviews these proposals, goes back to their respective committees and discusses how they will reply to these proposals (whether they will accept the proposals, offer amendments, or reject them). With each meeting held, each group will offer a revised reply to the other groups’ proposals. The meetings are usually a full day and each successive meeting is booked sometimes a week or several weeks later.

Non-monetary proposals are dealt with first and agreed upon, and then monetary proposals are dealt with (i.e. wages and benefits). Once the monetary proposals have been discussed and there is no more movement on these issues, a final offer is presented to take to our membership for approval or rejection. The union will usually indicate if they are recommending approval or rejection of the offer. The membership then votes for or against the new proposed Collective Agreement.

The whole process can take several months. Some rounds of bargaining have been as long as 18 months.

18. How is the Central Table negotiating team chosen?

The negotiating team is comprised of interested members who apply to sit on the negotiating committee. The negotiating committee is evenly drawn from Executive Council, and from members at large, and represents a diverse group of occupations.

19. Am I obligated to accept the recommendations of the negotiating committee?

You are not obligated to accept the recommendations of the negotiating committee.

20. What is Central Bargaining vs Non-Central Bargaining?

Central Table bargaining involves a group of sites and contracts being negotiated simultaneously at a single negotiation session.

Local Table bargaining involves a single site and contract being negotiated in a single negotiation session.

Whether Central Table or Local Table bargaining is used will depend upon mutual agreement with the employer and the union. Factors that would influence which type of bargaining is to be used are:

  • Similarity of contracts
  • Whether the employer is a private group or a public organization

21. Why do some occupational groups get a higher increase than other groups?

It is simply supply and demand. When an employer has job vacancies that are continually hard to fill, they may choose to compensate these positions above a general increase as an incentive to attract people to these positions or keep them in positions (referred to as recruitment and retention).

22. Why can’t I find out more about our proposals and the employers’ counter-proposals during negotiations?

The reason for this is simply neither side wants to ‘tip their hand’ to the other side. Negotiations can be delicate and neither side wants to reveal their ultimate goals nor what their deal-breakers are. If these are disclosed to membership this info may get back to management and can disadvantage us in our negotiations. It is understandably frustrating to members, but it is to our collective advantage to keep our ultimate objectives close to the chest.

Also, members should know that even Executive members not on the negotiating committee do not get extra information about negotiations. Negotiators have to sign confidentiality agreements – updates are provided as soon as possible. This usually occurs when it is time to vote.

23. If we are negotiating a new contract, do I still have a valid contract?

Yes. You are covered under the existing contract until a new one is signed.

24. Where is my collective agreement, and why does it take so long to get a copy of it?

Once the new Collective Agreement is settled, each of the 24 Collective Agreements must be proofed by each side. When that task is complete, both the union and management must sign off personally in ink (no photocopies). Each Collective Agreement has many signatures (the contract itself, and each Memorandum of Understanding). This amounts to thousands of signatures per bargaining team for each signatory. This represents approximately 132 person hours for the union’s team alone. This is then repeated by the management team. Finally, they are ready to be sent to the printers, a task which may take weeks for the thousands of printed copies produced and mailed.


25. What do I have to do during a strike?

Your manager will be scheduling people to work under ESA (Essential Services Agreement). If you are not scheduled to work, walking the picket line to accumulate picket hours would be beneficial.

26. What do I have to do to get strike pay?

To obtain strike pay you must volunteer to work on the picket line or with other strike-related duties.

27. How much do you get paid?

Strike Pay will be $120/day; a member must complete at least four (4) hours of picketing or other authorized duties supporting the strike that day to be eligible. Strike pay is only available to those members who are not working that day due to essential services agreements. Strike Pay will commence on the member’s third day of picketing or other authorized duties.

MAHCP will not collect dues on Strike Pay. Strike Pay is not taxable.

28. How long can a strike last?

The length of a strike can vary greatly. Once a strike action is initiated, the strike will continue until outstanding issues are settled.

The employer or union can apply to the Labour Board to settle the provisions of a new Collective Agreement by applying to the board in writing. They can only do so if:

  • At least 60 days have elapsed since the strike or lockout has commenced
  • The parties have attempted to conclude a new Collective Agreement with the assistance of a conciliation officer or mediator for at least 30 days during the period of the strike or lockout
  • And the parties have not concluded a new Collective Agreement

29. What does the Essential Services Agreement mean and what does it cover?

The Essential Services Agreement refers to employees who are considered essential and must report for work as scheduled. Essential Services numbers are supposed to be negotiated before the bargaining process begins. The number of employees deemed essential can vary greatly from department to department and from facility to facility.