President’s Message: SAHO Bargaining and Telephone Town Hall Follow Up – No. 2

Virtual town halls are a really good tool! Your bargaining committee is able to reach as many members as possible in the most time (and cost) efficient way possible. As a quick note, over 1000 members joined our call in the evening of February 21 and over 700 joined our call during the afternoon of February 22. Some members joined us online; some members only joined for about 15 minutes (the length of time of a coffee break?).

Further to our virtual town hall questions, here is the next round of Q and A from our members (click to read the first SAHO Bargaining and Telephone Town Hall Follow Up in this series):

#9: If we don’t luck out with this contract would a rollback be retroactive and what about if someone retires in the meantime? – Terry, location unknown.

We do not agree with any wage rollback. And further to that, we would not allow a rollback to be retroactive. For us, for our members, this is more than a slogan, it’s a fundamental principle that we will defend. Cuts and rollbacks contribute nothing to a progressive society; they do not promote a healthy and safe workplace; and they stop any ability to recruit and retain all of our skilled and professional healthcare workers.

Retirement provisions are based on a member’s best four (4) years…that wouldn’t change.

#10: When talking about this rollback… my husband and I both work for the health regions and my son worked for STC and lost his job… Can the question be asked of our politicians if their family had a reduction in pay to their family income would they survive? – Katherine, Saskatoon.

First, I’m truly sorry your son lost his job with STC. In my opinion, this was a public service that supported rural and remote communities, seniors, and so many more who needed the lift. The parcel service assisted businesses to thrive and helped in the transfer of medicine and lab specimens. No, it wasn’t a money maker, but that isn’t what its purpose was – it was a welcome support to the province everything should not be about making money – sometimes being a public good is the purpose!

That being said, I think you should contact your own MLA, and the Minister of Health, Jim Reiter, and ask that very question. When we’ve talked to the Minister of Health, he states that MLAs, Ministers; the heads of the Crown Corp have all taken a 3.5% cut to their salary. But the base salary for a MLA is $96,000/year… a 3.5% cut brings them down to $93,000/year…I think they’ll be able to pay their power bill! However a 3.5% cut to an average wage of $25/hour is a more direct hit to the pocket book and it is simply not affordable.

#11: Expenses have gone up so much, how can we live with a 3.5% reduction in pay? Will we be getting a fair living wage adjustment? – Tusit, Saskatoon.

Well, the short answer is that we can’t live with that 3.5% reduction… its brutally simple. This 3.5% reduction is to total compensation, so it’s not just wage reductions that are being contemplated, but any initiative that can reduce costs for the employer – and by extension the Government of Saskatchewan.

We are already in an environment where vacant shifts are not replaced and short staffing protocols are used routinely in the workplace. As a result we are running to provide care and services. How can we continue to do that and take a cut of 3.5%? We cannot.

#12: Re: JJE plan review, will continuing education be taken into account? – Kimberley, Saskatoon

Currently, continuing education is not factored into the JJE rating system… but the WHOLE plan will be reviewed to bring it up to date. We will be proposing that continuing education be a consideration in the education factor as a whole when rating jobs.

#13: A question about rollbacks: SaskPower has refused the rollbacks but will take ‘days off’…this has not been settled. Where are we on this? – Kevin, location unknown.

I am not aware that the staff of SaskPower have agreed to take days off – this might have been a proposal at their table. I do know that SaskPower put forward a package that would reach the 3.5% reduction but the members of one of the IBEW locals rejected this soundly. I do not know if they are back at the bargaining table.

The ‘days off’ proposed notion is still a rollback in our perspective. But further to this, it raises a number of questions about how services would be provided.

There is already chronic short-staffing and processes that do not replace staff on short term vacancy. Presently, there is no Employer (SAHO) proposal for unpaid days off.

#14: Does staying casual preserve these benefits while waiting for the process? – Sabrina, on-line.

I’m not sure what process is being referred to, but I’m going to work on the assumption that the process being referred to is the transition to the new SHA and the question of being co-employed between former RHA’s and between multiple unions. Staying casual should preserve your benefits and seniority. However, if you are having difficulties with your employer, we would strongly recommend that you call the MRC and arrange for a Leave of Absence (LOA) in order to formally preserve your benefits while this process is sorted out.

#15: is there an option to combine Family Illness Leave and Medical Care Leave into one bank so that the benefit is available for those who do not have a family to utilize Family Illness Leave for? – Shanna, on-line.

Family Illness Leave is provided for the following people: parent, spouse, brother, sister, child, common-law spouse, former guardian, fiancé, grandchild or someone with whom you have had a similar relationship. Also a host of in-laws, nieces, nephews and grandparents…check out article 15.08. It is distinct from medical care leave which is for the employee and it can be combined with sick leave for additional paid time off. If adequacy of medical care leave paid time off is an issue, please put this forward for the next round of bargaining.

#16: I would like to know, when will seniority transfer be provincial in nature? – Adrienne, Regina

We are currently working on this as part of our discussions around transition issues with the new SHA. We do not know exactly when this will be finalized. We are currently telling members that if they want to move to a different union jurisdiction, take a LOA from the position they are leaving in order to preserve benefits and seniority while this is dealt with.

We’ll have more updates in the next few days as well as an update on how bargaining has gone this week. Thanks for staying in touch and don’t forget to contact your MLA and the Minister of Health and the Minister of finance to add pressure to change this regressive mandate from 3.5% rollbacks.

If you have any questions about your workplace or collective agreement, don’t hesitate to contact the Member Resource Center at 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298.

In solidarity,

Your SEIU-West Bargaining Committee.

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