2019 Bargaining Committee Update #3

Wednesday, July-03-19                                   

Release #3

Good day Brothers and Sisters,

We will be holding a STRIKE MANDATE Vote July 9th, 10th, and 11th 2019 from 8am till 8pm. Make sure that you come down to the union hall and get your vote in.  Some of our members are new to the process and some of our members may not be aware of what this process is, so we would like to take this opportunity to explain clearly what a strike mandate vote means.

 Strike Mandate Vote Explained:

A strike mandate vote is NOT a vote to go on strike. Rather, it is a vote to show the employer that you support your bargaining team and the proposals we’ve developed. It gives your bargaining team a mandate to call for a strike, at some point in the future if we need too. Again, a strike mandate vote is “NOT” a vote to go on strike. In fact, history shows that a high “YES” vote in a strike mandate vote tends to reduce the likelihood that a strike will be necessary as the employer will become more likely to work with our bargaining team and make the improvements to the contract you the Steelworkers have asked for. History also shows that a weak strike mandate vote can result in prolonged negotiations and large concessions to current contract provisions.

 Why do we need to hold a strike mandate at this time?

A clear “YES” vote is a major source of bargaining power. For this reason, your bargaining team is unanimous in asking our members to vote “YES” in the strike mandate vote. This will help us in the bargaining process as it will convince the employer to continue bargaining toward a new contract that addresses your concerns.  It tells the decision-makers on the employer’s bargaining team (and the people they must report to) that they must bargain with us fairly, and as equals in the negotiations process.   It makes certain that both parties come to the table with a mandate to bargain a contract, and as such it can speed up the process.

 How is a “strike mandate vote” distinct from a “strike vote”?

There is an important distinction between a strike mandate vote and a strike votethat is often not fully understood by union members. Indeed, they are often used somewhat interchangeably, sometime erroneously, which adds to the confusion.  A strike mandate vote is (again) the same legal vote (required by The Manitoba Labour Relations Act) as the strike (or ratification) vote, but it has a very different meaning and purpose. Through our strike mandate vote, the purpose is to give the union’s bargaining team the support they need in order actually have the employer begin serious bargaining on the issues identified by our members. In all likelihood, if members vote “YES” in the strike mandate vote, we should be able to negotiate a fair contract at the bargaining table, which is our common goal.

 Will there automatically be a strike if I vote “YES” in the strike mandate vote?

Some members worry that a strike mandate vote means that a strike will occur. This is NOT the case. While a “YES” vote does give the bargaining team tremendous leverage, a strike will NOT necessarily occur.  As such, while a strike is not an impossibility at some point in the future, there WILL NOT be a strike immediately following a strong “YES” in the mandate vote.

 We are always trying to ensure that members understand both of these points. Our strike mandate vote is NOT a vote to go on strike — indeed, there is not a strike deadline, there is not a crisis in bargaining, and there has not been a final offer made by the employer. It does give the union the mandate at some point in the future, to call a strike if necessary, to meet the demands of our members.

 What will happen if I vote YES? What will happen if I vote NO?

The good news is that, assuming members vote YES in the strike mandate vote, it is very likely that a fair contract can be reached at the bargaining table. Indeed, through several successful strike mandate votes in our history, there have only been 3 strikes by this union, and the conditions were different at those times. Of course, if the membership does not vote YES in the mandate vote, we will continue to bargain as best we can. In that case, because we will really have no power at the table, there will be little or no gains made in the contract, but rather there will be losses to take home pay and benefits.

 We trust that members will make the choice that benefits all of us and vote YES. Please contact the Union with any questions you may have about the bargaining process, and thanks for your ongoing support. We will be holding a STRIKE MANDATE Vote July 9th, 10th, and 11th 2019 from 8am till 8pm. Make sure that you come down to the union hall and get your vote in.

 In Solidarity,

Your Bargaining Committee

Warren, Scott, Matt, Keith, Dave and Todd.