Joint Health Provider Bargaining Update from SEIU-West, SGEU, and CUPE: April 27

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Your SGEU, SEIU-West, and CUPE health care bargaining committees met with SAHO on April 24 and 25 in Regina to continue our work to achieve a fair and equitable collective agreement for our members.

This was an epic session as we finished our last meeting at April 26 at 1:30 am. The bargaining committee members remain committed to ensuring that your rights and benefits remain intact as we move through the transition of the new Saskatchewan Health Authority. Our work is complicated by the fact that two of SAHO’s lead negotiators are retiring at the end of April, and we do not know who will take over bargaining. 

Since the April 10 provincial budget announcement, we have seen a number of initiatives introduced that affect our members in a most direct way. Government and the employer say they are ‘works in progress’ as we don’t have much information at this time.

Some regional IT services are going to be transferred to eHealth. While the SHA doesn’t have much direct and clear information, your unions are committed to ensuring that we see our members treated fairly in this transfer and that IT members receive recognition for their skill, rights and benefits under their collective agreements. We will be meeting with SHA and eHealth to demand basic information such as how many employees will be affected; what classifications will be transferred; and what the transfer process will look like.

The SHA also announced a province-wide review of security services. We are aware that numerous reviews have been previously conducted, on both a regional and facility perspective, but never acted upon. We are cautious about the anticipated outcomes of this review and have reached out to our partners and allies in other areas and provinces who’ve been subjected to a security service review. We support our security officers throughout the province in making sure their voices, experiences and advice are taken into account in the planning of a seamless security service in rural and urban settings.

Our bargaining session saw us exchange a number of proposals that reinforced to the Employers that our Extended Health and Enhanced Dental (EHD) plan is a valued benefit and source of pride for our members. The provider unions have worked to ensure the financial health of the plan and quality of benefits for our members and we are not willing to jeopardize the plan we worked so hard to get. SAHO and the Government of Saskatchewan want to use the surplus that the plan has earned to reduce their amount of contributions to the plan, but they do not want to commit to maintaining the current status of the plan once those funds are depleted. The provider unions insist the plan be administered solely for the benefit of YOU as the beneficiaries.

We believe we have made significant progress regarding language to work together to address recruitment and retention issues in all of our classifications and facilities; we have an agreement in principle on interpersonal violence leave provisions that will see access to other paid leaves in our collective agreements; we are close to finalizing a specific process to identify and resolve workload issues for our members and provisions for electronic callback (specific to CUPE).

Issues still outstanding are the creation of a steering committee to establish a proper joint trusteeship over all of our benefit plans; joint recruitment and retention initiatives for employees; and a moratorium on changing bargaining unit structures. This last item is of benefit to our members so that we can work to implement this agreement and build a bargaining association that will guide our provincial work together. And, of course, other issues that have not been resolved include negotiations over monetary provisions regarding professional fees, the status of funding for our EHD plan; and general wage increases.

We have offered dates for further bargaining in May.

As we approach the National Day of Mourning on April 28, for workers who have been killed or injured on the job, we ask you to pause and remember to work safely, recognize when your colleagues may be struggling with a workplace injury and encourage your co-workers to work in a manner that allows them to return home safely and soundly.

In Solidarity,

SEIU-WEST, SGEU, and CUPE Bargaining Committees

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