2015 has been a fabulous year for SEIU-West! While difficult to choose highlights and accomplishments, we will do our best in this year’s Year in Review – take a trip down memory lane with us!
Introduced in 2014, our Purple Works campaign has continued to grow – we have had profiles of amazing SEIU-West members coming in regularly throughout 2015, so we were able to highlight the hard working individuals who make up our union to the broader community! We encourage you to fill out a ‘Member Profile Form’, or ‘Nominate Your Fellow SEIU-West Member’ in order to spread awareness on the valued work SEIU-West members do each and every day.
The benefits that SEIU-West brings to the community are also featured in the Purple Works campaign. To highlight a few in 2015, SEIU-West contributed to the Summer Snack Program, the Pride Parade, the Climate Justice March, as well as many more fundraising and giving initiatives, such as food bank drives, making and serving a turkey dinner at the Ronald McDonald House, and the Young Workers’ Committee donating winter clothing and resources to the Lighthouse Supported Living, the Moose Jaw Transition House, and the Open Door Society in Regina Saskatoon in order to assist in the settlement of refugees. We also used the Purple Works campaign name to create our Twitter handle @PurpleWorksSEIU. Check out www.purpleworks.ca to learn more!
SEIU-West members can’t get enough of contests – and 2015 did not let you down! There were lots of fun and informative contests to take part in. With the launch of our new text messaging platform members were able to participate in contests in so many ways! Some examples include:
Speaking of Facebook, we’re happy to announce we’re nearing our goal of 1000 likes by the end of 2015! We launched our Facebook page just over a year ago, and we’re proud of the way it has spread throughout the province! We also have our Twitter account @PurpleWorksSEIU. Follow and ‘like’ both pages – they’re a great way to ensure communication with your union. You’ll find out about member updates, contests, bargaining, important news information and so much more! We’re also managing two year-round websites, including seiuwest.ca and purpleworks.ca – one being our homepage, involving collective bargaining updates, media releases, and campaigns while the other highlights the positive impact of our union! On our seiuwest.ca page, we also draw attention to special dates as our banner stories.
We celebrate workers during their special recognition weeks, and share messages of solidarity:
Conferences & Convention
It’s been a very busy year with several conference and convention events throughout 2015. We held another successful political action conference, Together We Strive for Fairness, and our 2nd Annual Young Workers Conference was a hit! We also hosted a wonderful Continuing Care Assistant Conference.
SEIU-West held its biannual convention in 2015 as well; the theme was aptly called Our Union, Our Families, Our Communities, Our Future! Our new Vice-President Neil Colmin was elected, along with some amazing new members for the SEIU-West Executive Board. All the conferences and the 2015 convention were given rave reviews; they also brought in many new SEIU-West activists!
SEIU-West delegates were busy at the SFL Convention in October as well. Each one of the delegates participated in the anti-privatization march to the cabinet office and put forward many meaningful resolutions.
SEIU-West is proud of the educational opportunities it offers year after year, and 2015 was no exception. Shop Steward Training Levels I and II was offered a few times throughout the year in Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Swift Current. We also held Turtle Island training, a course aimed at developing solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. We offered Facing Management training, as well as a new course called Unionism in Practice.
In addition, Advanced Facilitation was offered to our current member-leader facilitators, and we also welcomed eleven new facilitators with our New Facilitator training!
SEIU-West Committees also sponsored many members to attend educational sessions outside of their union. Some examples include:
Advertisements & In the News
What a year for SEIU-West publicizing! For the first time ever, SEIU-West developed two professional TV commercials – one highlighted our members with our Purple Works campaign, and the other encouraged non-unionized workers to SEIU-West in order to achieve fairness in their workplace. CTV will air our 2015 Holiday Greeting as well!
We had many eye-catching billboards with the faces of SEIU-West members this year – their portraits based on their Purple Works Member Profile Forms! We also carried out ads in newspapers, on the radio and of course, TV!
Swag is something SEIU-West does well: we have purchased pink shirts for anti-bullying day, backpacks, sweaters, lunch packs and coffee mugs, to name a few!
SEIU-West has also sponsored amazing community events, such as the Teleseryse Bida Tour in Regina and the Climate Justice March in Saskatoon.
Your union has been published in the media many times this year as well – members like Tracey Lennox, Neil Colmin, and Chris Mulhall have written excellent letters to the editors on issues like Idle No More, public health care and privatization. These letters and news stories about SEIU-West members are being added to the ‘SEIU-West In the News’ webpage. If you are an SEIU-West member who would like to write an op-ed or a letter to the editor, use our comprehensive toolkit that includes fact sheets and writing tips. You can also contact the Political Action and Education Department and they will support you through the process.
SEIU-West continues to put out its quarterly newsletter, which contains great information and stories about our brothers and sisters of SEIU-West. We continue to ensure members’ concerns and feedback drive SEIU-West messaging – that’s why we develop member surveys. Our survey aimed to gather feedback on the newsletter has had great response, as well as our federal election campaign survey, purple votes. This brings us into our next section, politics and campaigns!
Politics and Campaigns
To put it in few words, it’s been a very busy year for politics and campaigns. Each year, we aim to set a higher bar in terms of our activism.
Together with many other unions, SEIU-West has supported the Own It! campaign which aims to strengthen and support Saskatchewan public services and crowns. We shared member videos and photos of their support for public services; organized rallies; wrote letters to government and the media; gathered petition signatures and attended the legislature in support of public services; and hosted community BBQs.
We also expanded our We Deserve Public campaign to include Long Terms Cares, a campaign that demands the government to commit to the creation of safe staffing levels and to reintroduce actual numbers of staff to match the level of care needs and the number of residents under their care in long term care facilities. We collected and delivered countless petitions and sent hundreds of letters to the Minister of Health, Dustin Duncan. We also sent letters to Saskatchewan’s health regions about safe staffing in long term care and have been utilizing the Workload Tracking Forms – they are very easy to fill out and really do help when we speak with politicians about this province-wide concern; they especially help at the bargaining table. Again, your input can help our union in gaining real results on issues like unsafe staffing levels!
Being that 2015 was a federal election year, SEIU-West launched its election hub website and campaign, Purple Votes! By focusing our campaign on issues that matter to SEIU-West members, we were able to effectively communicate important election issues and news stories to members and their communities. We had infographics and fact sheets on health care, retirement security, jobs and housing, veterans, public services, climate change and young worker issues. We also issued postcards and ran a contest that promoted shop floor discussion on the election with our Road to Democracy Contest.
Visitors to the Purple Votes website were able to access information around Election FAQs, participate in various contests, share pictures of their campaign volunteering, and so much more. Stay tuned for this site to be transformed into our 2016 Provincial election hub!
2015 was also a year in which education workers in South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) refused to accept an offer that proposed a collective agreement with general wage increases below the cost of living average for the province. Based on this disrespectful offer, approximately 300 SEIU-West members provided an overwhelming strike mandate in support of their proposals at the collective bargaining table. That’s where our Can’t Cut This campaign kicked it into high gears. This campaign highlighted the hardworking education workers who work in SECPSD and gathered media and community support for the striking workers. From the campaign website, supporters were able to send a letter to the Chairperson of the SECPSD Board; learn and distribute the strike facts; share stories and pictures; and access media releases and media coverage. Education workers in SECPSD were able to bargain for a better wage and accepted the offer in May of 2015.
The bargaining efforts in SECPSD takes us into our next section, bargaining! Collective Bargaining and Enforcement had yet another busy year; the SECPSD strike and bargaining process was a great example of the hard work, research and commitment amongst members and staff towards their union’s goals of fairer workplaces.
The Member Resource Centre is busy each and every day – by calling 1.888.999.7348 members will speak directly to staff who have access to the particular collective agreement that applies to your workplace. Member Resource Centre Officers do their best to provide full information and if needed, do the necessary follow-up with employers to resolve a situation. If a member call is referred to a staff rep or unit executive, there is a process to ensure the information is accurately shared so members don’t feel frustrated by having the explain the situation all over again.
Way to go Bargaining!
SEIU-West could not do as much as it has in its bargaining and campaigns without the use of sound research! We’ve been busy ensuring that the information we publically share can be accounted for. With our extensive research, you can easily access ‘Just the Facts’ information, and/or you can also attend one of our excellent conferences where we share more extensive information in a segment called, ‘grading the government’ – in this annual research project, we look at some of the most pressing issues affecting Saskatchewan workers. This year’s topics included Making Ends Meet, Climate Change and The War on Information, just to name a few.
Research helps to protect the interests of SEIU-West members; this year, we supported Pharmacy Technicians by conducting Town Hall meetings on legislative changes and ensured Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) had strong defense of their scope of practice. SEIU-West also presented a submission to the Worker’s Compensation Act Committee of Review Hearings on staff concerns around safety.
The SEIU-West Committees have also had a very active year – here are some highlights! the Education Committee awarded 20 scholarships in the fall of 2015 for SEIU-West members and their children; the Political Action and Awareness Committee were present at many election events and assisted in the CLC’s Labour Day of Action;the Worker Safety Committee a successful National Day of Mourning Quiz; the Nursing Care Committee‘s held their first Continuing Care Assistant Conference; the Aboriginal Committee promoted Turtle Island training and launched a new campaign, PAWS; the Young Workers Committee held its 2nd Young Workers Conference and got involved in Purple Votes; and the Member Organizing Committee has been busy finding new workplaces to organize! All the SEIU-West committees have taken part and led the way to a more positive an inclusive society.
It’s hard to believe, but this is just a small sample of the work and achievements that SEIU-West does each year – thanks for another great year! We’re really looking forward to the amazing things SEIU-West members will do in 2016.