A Manitoba Labour Board administrative error is to blame for the cancellation of the Prairie Mountain Health region representation mail-in vote for health-care support service workers.
A spokesperson for the Manitoba Labour Board stated that, “some ballots were incorrectly addressed as a result of a technical error.”
Voting ballots, which were mailed out on Jan. 4, were supposed to put an end to lengthy bargaining agreements between the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union. The labour board has now asked that all mail-in ballots be discarded.
“Yesterday we started receiving phone call after phone call from CUPE and MGEU members that they received ballots with wrong names and wrong addresses on them so we directed them to the labour board to let them know that an error was made,” said MGEU communications officer Kim Hes.
The vote is a result of the provincial government’s decision to cut the number of regional health authorities from 11 to five, prompting the labour board to ask health-care workers to vote on a region-by-region basis for one union to represent them.
The Westman region, which includes Brandon, Assiniboine and Parkland, is the last of the five votes. All previous votes were successfully mailed out and submitted.
Hes said the labour board will be having a vote planning meeting on Thursday to discuss a tentative schedule for in-person voting at the necessary workplaces.
“After that meeting happens on Thursday, we will know where and when people can vote in person,” she said.
Once the in-person voting schedule has been made, it will be up to the labour board to iron out a new time frame for when votes will be calculated and finalized.
“Obviously we were very disappointed that this had happened and everyone is anxious to get back to business as usual,” she said.
“But we have no say over this, it’s up to the labour board.”
Originally the labour board requested that ballots be submitted by Jan. 25, prompting CUPE’s provincial health-care co-ordinator, Shannon McAteer, to suggest that votes could be counted by spring. But now the in-person voting process could possibly slow down a union battle that has been ongoing since June.
“We’re all hoping it will get done as soon as possible, but I can’t see how this wouldn’t add time to the end date,” Hes said.
“But at this point there’s no way of knowing how long this will take.”