PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: Virtual Town Hall Follow Up Part Four

As I write this, we are in the middle of Health Care Providers week and I couldn’t help thinking about all of the opportunities I’ve had to talk with members over the past days, months and years…

I have toured RUH with our tradesmen; I have received a primer on labs in the old Moose Jaw hospital; I have had lunch with a number of Continuing Care Assistants; I have lobbied with Licensed Practical Nurses; I have walked through dietary departments in transition; I have talked for hours with Environmental Service workers; I have asked a million questions of cardio techs and sleep lab techs; I have tried to understand the ‘voodoo’ that is scheduling with our schedulers; and I have recently heard from a whole bunch of our members who are experiencing retention and recruitment issues in diagnostic imaging… for everyone in between, we have thought about you, fought for you, lobbied with you and done our best to ensure that you know you are incredibly important to our union, to our health care system and to our province.

We will not stop fighting to make sure your voices are heard.

And because you do not hear this nearly enough – THANK YOU for your incredible skill, professionalism, and service to providing high quality health care in Saskatchewan every single day.

Following up from our previous editions of the questions from our virtual town hall(these are continued from the Oct. 13, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24 posts): here is the next edition for your reading pleasure:

12. A member is concerned about the additional steps being proposed. “her position was already lowered in steps (office coordinator – renamed to officer supervisor). New hires are at a lower rate. Why is this employer making this demand again? – Bonnie, Saskatoon.

This question highlights two distinct processes that have the potential to effect rates of pay. The officer coordinator job description was reviewed through Joint Job Evaluation (JJE). The JJE process may have affected/lowered the final pay band of the position, however this is different than adding two additional steps as the Government is proposing. The simple answer to this is that the Government of Saskatchewan has directed this initiative of 2 lower pay steps as a way to save money towards the -3.5% cut. But we all know (and have explained in incredible detail to employers and government) that we cannot attract and retain skilled staff now – let alone if we are forced to add additional lower steps to the pay bands.

13. Member from a small area and wonders what classifications the cuts are most likely to affect? – Sherri, Biggar.

The cuts being proposed will have a general effect upon everyone. The lower steps being proposed to all pay bands impact everyone. The proposed reductions to overtime affects everyone. The proposal for wage reduction would affect everyone. Cuts to standby and callback would likely effect more members within the technologist and trades/maintenance areas…but really, when you consider how much we rely on those services throughout the whole health care system…the would affect all of us. To summarize those classifications that participate in unsociable hours, weekend work, standby and callback would shoulder a disproportionate burden compared to those who work predominately a Monday to Friday, straight days schedule.

14. A member wishes to suggest that all members and managers should be treated equally with regard to cell phone reimbursement – Dorothy, Saskatoon.

In a completely fair world, that would be the case. But we don’t negotiate on behalf of the OOS managers. I think it’s fair to say, especially for those members like homecare staff, who rely on their cell phones as a way to get their clients scheduled – let alone many others who get call-in via text or cell – that it’s about equity when it comes to cell phone reimbursement.

15. There are SGEU members from the past and now with one Health Region, would they be given back those seniority hours with SEIU? Is there any way possible that they could increase the money for therapies and not specific to one practice? – Carmen, Swift Current.

For part one, if members were merged or voted to move to another union, under a Labour Relations Board vote, then they should have been able to take their seniority with them. But if they were with another union, quit and then came back to work as a SEIU-West member, then they likely won’t be able to get their seniority back.

For part two, we are always working on how to improve our extended health and dental benefits outside of collective bargaining. We normally don’t bargain the terms of the individual benefit plans. We have a benefits working group that meets regularly and in an effort to reinforce how important investing in and improving benefits. We are also aggressively seeking a joint trusteeship of our benefits plan…just like with our pension plan to ensure that the best possible benefit plans are provided within the resources allocated. That being said, benefit improvements are a work in progress, but I will pass this request onto our benefit working group members.

I was at the Rally to Reverse the Cuts on the front lawn of the provincial Legislature building on October 25, 2017. I spoke about respect for all health care workers and how we need to reverse the cuts to our public services. I shared your voices and your experiences; as a result, we will be setting up a meeting with the Minister of Health in December. But we need you to step up; we need you to contact your MLA – phone them, email them, set up a meeting to tell them what you have told me. Make sure that they know that without you, without your skills, without your work, health care will fall apart.

In Solidarity,

Barbara Cape
President, SEIU-West

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