Union Update – January 2020


By chanel January 24, 2020

As many of you may know 2019 was one of the busiest years on record; with a significant amount of work in the pipeline industry, to having a record amount of Operating Engineers of Manitoba Local 987 members at Manitoba Hydro Keeyask Hydro project.

Unfortunately, much of this local union’s time was taken up with the Healthcare Rationalization vote. In basic terms, all healthcare workers in the province were forced to vote for a union of their choice. To be able to be on the ballot, one needed to have representation in the healthcare field. OE987 had approximately 850 members who were affected by this vote.

OE987 delivered the very best campaign that it could. We received a very generous grant from our International in Washington which enabled us to do the things we did. In addition, the outpouring of support from other locals was outstanding. I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide a big shout out to the Canadian IUOE locals especially, BC Local 115, Alberta Local 955 and Ontario Local 793 who all sent several bodies for most of the Summer in order to shore up our local union resources. Once again, our International came to help, this time with the entire Canadian contingent (8 of them).

It was truly a David and Goliath fight. Both MGEU and CUPE dominated market share with tens of thousands of people versus our couple hundred. We also didn’t have the name recognition compared to our competitors nor did we have the phone numbers, email addresses or physical address that the others did. Notwithstanding our efforts, Operating Engineers of Manitoba Local 987 lost the vote.

On December 13th, 2019 those 850 members ‘officially’ left this organization and joined their new unions.

You may ask yourselves how this will affect our local union. As your Business Manager, I’ve implemented some cost-cutting measures. Sister Belinda Blanchard took her retirement and we have no plans to replace her. That said, I wouldn’t want to affect the level of service you’ve come to love and expect from us. Additionally, in order to organize we need organizers. In all likelihood, we may have to take a financial loss in the short term. However, I have a 10-year plan to make up that loss. I will be monitoring our situation carefully in the weeks, months and years to come.

I want to personally thank each one of you for providing us with the latitude to help our Brothers and Sisters who were forced into this vote. For a couple of months this summer, we weren’t as accessible and responsive to your needs. I’m here to say that it’s far behind us now, and we are back in full force. However, I’d like you all to understand that the needs of members have never been greater. Our staff Representatives have many people they represent from many different workplaces across the province. Please be respectful of the time requirements and of the tone of your needs when speaking with them. They too deserve a respectful workplace.

All of what has been written was and is discussed both at the union executive board level and at the union meetings. I know some of you can’t make it to the meetings, but I would highly encourage you to pick up the phone and ask me for any update. I’m extremely accessible, transparent and look forward to the next chapter in this great local’s history.


In solidarity,

Marc Lafond

Business Manager