I heard that there is new legislation introduced for centralized bargaining. What does this mean?
The provincial government introduced two new Bills on November 2nd. Bill 45- The Public Schools Amendment and Manitoba Teachers’ Society Amendment Act and Bill 64- The Education Modernization Act.
Bill 45 amends the Public Schools Act to establish centralized (provincial) bargaining for teachers employed in the public school system. Click here for more information on provincial bargaining and MTS’s position. There are no details for Bill 64 at the time of writing this.
When will we have a new Collective Agreement (CA)?
Our CA expired in 2018. This CA remains in effect until a new agreement is bargained. The new agreement could be a provincial agreement if Bill 45 is passed. Since 2018 we have sent letters to the board requesting to sit down at the table and negotiate a new agreement. The board has claimed to be bound by the government to offer Bill 28 parameters (0%, 0%, 0.75%, 1%), impeding our ability to participate in a fair and open bargaining system. With none of the other 37 Associations successful at the bargaining table, we continued with a province-wide lead table arbitration strategy.
The lead table strategy and the arbitration process are the only mechanisms we have to break the government’s mandate of wage freezes. The Louis Riel Teachers’ Association was the first Local to go through the arbitration process in November 2019. The Pembina Trails Teachers’ Association and MTS staff have completed the Pembina Trails arbitration, which occurred on January 4- 8 and 11, 2021. An award is expected to be released in the following months. RETTA and other Locals will take their next steps following the release of the award.
LRTA was successful in breaking Bill 28 parameters. Soon after this win, the courts declared Bill 28 unconstitutional in the Charter Challenge. Notwithstanding the recent court decision that held Bill 28 undermined public sector collective bargaining and violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Government has filed a motion to appeal this decision and is pressing on with a 0% bargaining mandate in an attempt to cut the real salaries of teachers and other public employees.
We will continue to follow the lead table strategy, with the two arbitrations’ intention to set the bargaining pattern for the other 35 Local’s. We will continue to inform our members as the process moves forward.
Can we strike?
No. Strike or any form of job action is illegal. Our dispute resolution mechanism is binding arbitration. Teachers in Manitoba gave up the ability to strike in the 1950s in lieu of Binding Interest Arbitration as the dispute resolution mechanism. In other words, when the two parties can’t come to an agreement through bargaining, it goes to an arbitration board. This has worked well for us in the past. Some concerns with striking include; being locked out, loss of pay, and potential loss of public support.