Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers

WAPSO History

 

A brief outline of the history of our Association has been compiled, for the information of our present members, and for those who will become members in the future.

Although the records are incomplete. It is evident that the struggle by supervisory and professional employees for recognition by the City Of Winnipeg was a long one-dating well back into the 1950's. and encompassing several separate informal "Associations" of both administrative and professional employees, working for the City.

The most active of these Associations appears to have been the professional group, originally known as "The Engineering and Architectural Group of Civic Employees", subsequently renamed "City Engineering and Hydro Professional Employees" and then, "The Winnipeg Professional Employees Association". Over the years, this group approached the City with letters and briefs in an effort to secure recognition of their Association, so that they might have "... a direct line of communication n presenting sound viewpoints. Attitudes and information on the status of our Members relating to their employment with the City of Winnipeg. Our Association was developed with two main objectives in mind. Firstly, the Association through its contact with Winnipeg City Council or its Representatives could promote a better understanding of some basic problems which we feet have existed for some time and which should be resolved. Secondly, and no less important than the first objective, this Association is vitally interested and concerned with the attainment of the objectives of the Winnipeg Corporation -- namely, quality and efficiency of services. Our sincere desire is to develop this line of communication with an air of mutual confidence and professionalism." (Quote from a letter to the City dated March 7, 1967.)

Each approach to the City by the various "groups** met with negative results. At one point the Committee on Utilities and Personnel (of the old City of Winnipeg) and the Mayor, recommended that all the supervisory and professional groups amalgamate to form one unit.

So it was, that on August 5, 1969. the various "groups" did amalgamate into the (City of) Winnipeg Association Of Public Service Officers, with a paid-up membership of 183. which represented 75% of the 243 persons eligible. However, despite a request to City Council that the newly formed Association be recognized "for the purpose of conducting negotiations". Council agreed on September 22, 1969. to "accept the City of Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers as being representative of those employees not covered by the present union agreements and will receive representations from the Association on behalf of its membership to discuss matters rather than conduct negotiations".

Thus, formal recognition was still denied, and during the fall of 1969 and through 1970, investigations were made by the Association into the possibility of certification by the Department of Labour. At that time It was learned that the City could recognize the Association as a bargaining agent without the formality of certification by the Department of Labour, and that such recognition, once granted, would be binding. It was also learned, however, that under the then labour laws, the majority of employees belonging to the Association would be deemed by the Labour Board to be excluded from any certified bargaining unit.

Rather than fragment the Association and seek certification for only those employees who were eligible under the then labour laws, the Association made representation to the Provincial Government, requesting changes to the labour laws to allow middle-management employees the "democratic right of Collective Negotiation". Some two years later, on July 20, 1972, the Provincial Government passed "Bill 81" of The Labour Relations Act, which was to become effective on January 1. 1973 and which would clear the way for application for certification of the "intact" Association.

Although the Association was now armed with the legal right to seek certification in order to enter into collective bargaining with the City of Winnipeg, it indicated to the Board of Commissioners that, as stated ... "on previous occasions it is the wish of our membership to endeavour to achieve this collective bargaining as a result of voluntary agreement between the City of Winnipeg and the W.A.P.S.O.". (Quote from letter dated August 3, 1973.)

Finally, negotiations for a contract began, and in the summer of 1974, the long struggle for recognition culminated with the signing of a formal Agreement between the City and the Association for the years 1973-1974 and subsequently, contracts have been signed for each successive year.

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