WINNIPEG – A labour battle is brewing in Manitoba now that proposed changes to union certification legislation have been introduced.
Premier Brian Pallister wants to remove the automatic certification if over 65% of workers sign membership cards, and replace that with a secret ballot — essentially putting things back to how they were before the NDP made changes in the late 90s.
Canadian Federation of Independent Business president and CEO Dan Kelly tells 680 CJOB… when the NDP made those changes, it sent shockwaves through the Manitoba business community…
“We have no issue with workers’ rights to unionize, but we’ve got to do it in a fair and transparent manner, and the best way that we’ve found in Canada and any democracy is to have secret ballot votes. It was crazy to us that we removed that.”
Winnipeg lawyer Bill Gardner, who also serves on the provincial Labour Management Review Committee, says the secret ballot is a cornerstone of the democratic process…
“It’s the means by which we choose federal, provincial and municipal governments, and deciding whether to have a union represent you in your relations with your employer is an equally important decision for workers. We should have the tried and true method of doing that.
Critics say the changes would allow workers to intimidated by management.
Manitoba Federation of Labour president Kevin Rebeck says the changes give employers a chance to interfere with the vote…
“When a vast majority of workers in the workplace made that indication, why should they have to indicate that again? And give an employer time to potentially play games? And that happens. They do fire people. They intimidate people.”
As it stands in Manitoba, the secret ballot applies if 40-65% of workers sign the cards. If it’s more than 65%, the union is automatically certified.