When Bonnie Marchant joined the WCB eight years ago, what stuck with her most from her interview was a feeling of opportunity for a long-term career with the organization. As a young mom, Bonnie appreciated the full-time employment, with a set schedule and daytime shifts to help accommodate her daycare needs, but she soon realized that moving up in the company would be difficult.
“In my interview, I was told that the WCB offered employees a lot opportunities to move around. They neglected to mention that to be able to apply for those opportunities, you needed to be in the union.”
While WCB administrative staff have all the same benefits of WCB employees, such as EDOs, health benefits and vacation entitlements, they are out-of-scope employees. This means that when it comes to applying for jobs, they can only apply for external postings and must compete with external candidates.
Despite the limitations, Bonnie made the most of her new position and was also able to share some unique skills which include graphic design. These skills were used to help redesign the workshop manuals for SAFE Work Manitoba and this design is still the basis of the manuals used today. Bonnie says that many administrative assistants bring unique technical skills to their jobs, but that these aren’t recognized with higher wages or greater opportunity.
“While in-scope staff can make a case for a higher pay grade through a JJE review, we’re often told that for us, these extra skills fall under ‘other duties as assigned’.”
Bonnie says that in 2014, the administrative assistants at the WCB began to discuss the possibility of joining CUPE 1063.
“We got together and agreed that we wanted to be part of the union and we tried to fight to make that happen. We had the union’s support, but we were told it wasn’t going to happen because not all of executive was on board, so they said ‘no’.”
Bonnie says that the decision had a negative effect on her and the group.
“You see your future career goals just deflate, like a balloon – gone. They’re not giving admins the chance to further their careers.”
In Bonnie’s case, she worked with the union to be considered in-scope. She agreed to take a lower job grade position as a Prevention Support Coordinator, and with the help of both SAFE Work Manitoba executive and union representatives, she is now in-scope and a CUPE 1063 member.
“I became an official union member in February 2016. It feels good to know that I’m no longer alone, I have someone to speak up for me and to fight for me, if needed.”
Bonnie is now hoping that being in-scope will finally open up more opportunities to advance and grow professionally with the WCB. In the meantime, she’s giving back and developing her skills by volunteering for the CUPE 1063 website.
“I’m thankful for CUPE’s help and now I want to give back in a way that uses my skills through the website. Career-wise, it’s yet to be determined what will happen, but at least now, I have the union in my corner.”