Tag Archives: Labour Legislation

President’s Message: WE WON!!!!

Today the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) struck down the Saskatchewan government’s essential services legislation and ruled in favour of the case put forward by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), SEIU-West and other intervenors.

This is a great victory for SEIU members; together, many of us struggled under this regressive legislation during our 2008 round of provincial health provider bargaining.  Since this time, we have worked very hard to change the bargaining environment.court

This decision enshrines the right to strike as a Charter protected right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  This is in addition to the protection of the right to organize and the right to bargain collectively.

Today’s decision from the SCC recognizes the relevance of labour relations history in Saskatchewan, and across Canada; it also acknowledges the impact of international law that protects the right to strike globally; and it ensures the democratic rights of working men and women are protected.

The SCC has said that the right to strike can be restricted – but only if there are mechanisms in place that provide alternate and fair resolution strategies to ensure  a continued balance of power between workers and employers.

From the perspective of SEIU-West, this decision reinforces that the Saskatchewan’s government essential services legislation was ideologically based, not based on good public policy.  Flowing out of this legislation, there was no extended improvement to match the directed essential services staffing levels in our workplaces.  We saw clearly that this legislation was simply put in place to neuter unionized workers in their right to collectively bargain.

The SCC recognized that the employer/employee relationship is deeply imbalanced and that the possibility of a strike enables workers to negotiate with their employers on a more level playing field. Individual employees alone typically lack the power to bargain and achieve gains with a powerful employer. But we have seen how, together, working people can improve their lives and our ability to work together for change is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There is much work to do in our review and consideration of the long-term impact of this legal decision.  This decision means that we will now renew our offer to sit down with the Government of Saskatchewan, and consult on what good public policy looks like in managing the issues around labour.  This illustrates that SEIU-West members will not take a back seat when their collective agreement rights or their constitutional rights are taken away.

This victory belongs to our members and to all working people; it will set a historical precedent for the broader community of labour, for many years to come. As a leader within SEIU-West, I am proud to share this well deserved and long awaited news with you today.

Related links:

MEDIA RELEASE: A Victory for Working Families

SFL Media Release: Supreme Court Sides with Working Families, Restores Balance to Labour Relations

Did you like this? Share it:
Comments Off on President’s Message: WE WON!!!!

MEDIA RELEASE: Future State of Essential Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 5, 2013

Saskatoon – Members and leaders of SEIU-West are very interested in the new version of the essential services law introduced as Bill 128 in the Saskatchewan provincial legislature on December 4, 2013. It appears that a number of changes will improve the law. However, some hurdles remain.

“SEIU-West has always promoted fair legislation. We continue to take the position that essential services negotiations should not begin with the employer setting out specific classifications and numbers that will be necessary to deliver essential services,” said SEIU-West President Barbara Cape. “We also see the expansion of the scope of the law as a future problem that will need to be addressed.”

SEIU-West has been very vocal about their members’ concerns with the law and has actively participated in the legislative review process.

“We see an improvement in what items need to be considered during the negotiations of essential services as well as the potential resolve for collective bargaining impasse issues,” said SEIU-West Treasurer Janice Platzke. “We have proposed the use of binding interest arbitration as the most effective way to resolve collective bargaining issues when negotiations break down. Though the process of obtaining this third party assistance does seem long, we hope that having access to arbitration will motivate all parties to achieve timely and fair settlements.”

“SEIU-West will take the time to do a complete review of the Bill and provide our feedback to the government,” added Cape. “We hope that continued discussions with the government will lead to a process that works for both our members and for the people of Saskatchewan.”

SEIU-West represents more than thirteen thousand working people in the province of Saskatchewan. They include members who work in healthcare, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors.

– 30 –

For more information, contact:

Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator
Phone: 306.652.1011 ext. 2250

For a printable PDF of this release, click on the link below:

Media Release: Future State of Essential Services

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

SEA Campaign Update

You may have read it in the Newspaper and seen it on TV; yes Bill 85 has passed with Amendments.

Though it seems that the government did not amend the legislative provisions that pertain specifically to Unions, their amendments were undoubtedly informed in part by your participation in the SEIU-West SEA Campaign.

Government of Saskatchewan media release: NEW LABOUR LEGISLATION FOR SASKATCHEWAN

Here is the SEIU-West Media Release that was sent out on May 14, 2013: From Progressive to Regressive

What are others saying?

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) says that working people’s interests have been ignored.

Law Professor Dr. David Doorey posted “Saskatchewan’s Bill 85: When Ideology Trumps Good Sense?” (LawofWork.ca), and was quoted in Murray Mandryk, Political Columnist for the Leader Post and Star Phoenix wrote a piece called “Labour Relations may get rockier“.

SEIU-West will continue to put pressure on the government to consider changes and provide input to the regulations as they are developed. As well, we will continue to prioritize providing input on future needed amendments to  the Essential Services legislation amendments with the Government and other stakeholders over the coming months.

We will keep you posted on these developments and anything that you can do to assist us in our communications with the employers and/or the government of Saskatchewan

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Letter to Don Morgan Re: Summary Offence Ticketing

SEIU-West shares a mutual interest with government in the improvement of workplace safety. In our opinion, all parties will achieve maximum effectiveness (improved safety; reduced injury or occupational illness), if the program initiated is anchored in the principle of…

Read the full letter by clicking on the PDF link below:

May 9, 2013: Letter to Minister Morgan re: Summary Offence Ticketing

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Media Release: From Progressive to Regressive

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2013

Saskatoon – Despite clear messages from members of SEIU-West and other working people of Saskatchewan to slow down and get it right, the SaskParty government moved ahead with the passing of Bill 85, The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

“Saskatchewan had some of the most progressive labour laws in Canada,” said Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West. “With a stroke of a pen, this legislation takes workers back many years.”

Working people and their families have been vocal about their issues with this piece of legislation, most recently SEIU-West members hand delivered approximately 3500 letters – signed not only by fellow members but by a wide cross section of working people – to the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Don Morgan on May 1, 2013.

“Members of SEIU-West have been calling on the government to slow down their implementation plan on new labour legislation since the consultation process began in May of 2012 with a short 90 day window to review fifteen labour-related Acts.” said Shelly Banks, Vice-President of SEIU-West. “It is really disappointing for working people and it feels like an act of dismissal.”

“It’s unfortunate that this government would rather push through less than stellar legislation than listen to the people who have really worked to help create the boom in this province,” said Cape. “We’re seeing more and more regressive labour legislation in North America which is whittling down the middle class. We would like to see shared prosperity for working people, rather than the scaling back of workers rights to increase the profits of employers.”

At first glance, it appears that the government may have connected on a number of the issues identified by the SEA Campaign launched by SEIU-West. More analysis of the Legislative Amendments to the Act will be done over the coming weeks with a view to determining whether these address the concerns of working people.

“I guess we’ll see what damage this iceberg does to Saskatchewan over the coming years. We had hoped that the government would present the Legislative Amendments to all stakeholders and offer up time for our feedback. It appears this government is more interested in expediency rather than listening to those people willing to stand up for their rights.” continued Cape.

SEIU-West represents more than thirteen thousand working people in the province of Saskatchewan. They include members who work in healthcare, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. Visit www.seiuwest.ca for more information.

– 30 –

For more information, contact:

Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator

Phone: 306.652.1011 ext. 2250

Click on the link below to download the PDF of this release:

Media Release: From Progressive to Regressive

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Media Release: The Voices of Many on International Working Class Day

For Immediate Release – May 1, 2013

Regina – SEIU-West members delivered over 3000 signed letters from working people across the province to Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Don Morgan, today at the Legislature in Regina. People who signed these letters are asking the government to listen to the voices of working people and do all that they can to fix the many problems with Bill 85, The Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA).

“We are receiving more signed letters daily,” said Janice Platzke, Treasurer of SEIU-West. “And these letters have not been signed solely by members of SEIU-West; rather there is a wide cross section of people represented within these many pages. We have letters from young people who are about to enter the workforce, and retirees who enjoyed good working conditions and just want the same for their children and grandchildren.”

Members of SEIU-West have been calling on the government to slow down their implementation plan on new labour legislation since the consultation process began in May of 2012 with a short 90 day window to review fifteen labour-related Acts.

“More consultation efforts have been afforded to other pieces of legislation, where the impact is a smaller portion of the population than this Bill, which affects every single working person and workplace in the province,” added Platzke. “The people of the province should be asking themselves, why is this government pushing this Legislation through so fast? If it’s such a great idea, why has there been no fanfare?”

Bill 85, as written, confuses the concept of an 8 hour day and does not guarantee 2 consecutive days off (a weekend) in the labour standards section, and will allow the government to force ratification votes of last offers upon our membership.  This coupled with the essential services law creates an overwhelming obstacle to achieve a fair collective agreement in the public sector.

“As we’ve been saying in our SEA campaign, this piece of legislation is like an iceberg, it may seem harmless but what lies beneath?” said Karen Trafford, SEIU-West member. “We have identified ten issues that are problematic, but the Red Flags are everywhere. We are just asking to slow walk this process and have meaningful consultation with the working class and it is no accident that we selected this date to demonstrate the weight of concern within our membership.”

SEIU-West represents more than thirteen thousand working people in the province of Saskatchewan. They include members who work in healthcare, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. Visit www.seiuwest.ca for more information.

– 30 –

For more information, contact:

Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator

Phone: 306.652.1011 ext. 2250

For a Printable PDF of this Media Release, click on the link below:

Media Release: The Voices of Many on International Working Class Day

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Media Release: Essential Services Constraints Continue

Regina – The Court of Appeal released their judgment today in the case of the SFL and Intervenor Unions (SEIU-West, CUPE and SUN) against the Provincial Government and others (public employers including Regional Health Authorities). SEIU-West members and leaders are extremely disappointed with the ruling on Essential Services.

“We are dismayed by the decision of the Court of Appeal. It seems a real setback when our provincial government effectively uses a technical argument to persuade the Courts to maintain a law which will have a negative, lasting effect upon all working people in Saskatchewan and beyond our borders,” said Shelly Banks, Vice-President of SEIU-West.

“The determination that The Public Service Essential Services Act is constitutionally valid will only serve to further delay achieving timely, fair and reasonable collective agreements for our members employed in the public sector. It was our hope that the Court of Appeal would have affirmed Justice Ball’s decision and that we could continue to work with the government and fix this law so it works for everyone, not just the employer. The best way to restore good faith collective bargaining in this province is to repair the essential services law,” continued Banks.

Members of SEIU-West are not opposed to the provision of essential services in the context of a collective bargaining impasse because they have always done so. The issue is that this essential services law is flawed so badly it strips the good faith out of the negotiations process.

“We had hoped that the rights of workers would have prevailed in this case,” added Banks. “Unfortunately, this court has decided to pass the buck to the Supreme Court of Canada, thereby ignoring the current hardships faced by public sector workers who are just trying to get a fair deal in a timely manner.”

The appeal, brought by the Provincial Government on March 8, 2012, was in response to the decision of Justice Ball, delivered on February 6, 2012, which found The Public Service Essential Services Act to be unconstitutional because it infringed upon Charter rights and freedoms. The Court of Appeal had suspended Justice Ball’s decision following the November 27 to 29, 2012 hearings until such time as the Court of Appeal ruling was released.

“Our members have wanted to talk about this legislation since 2008. We understand the importance of the work we do, whether it’s in healthcare, education, municipalities or other sectors,” said Banks. “The legislation, as written, does not strike a fair balance between services to the public and workers’ rights.”

SEIU-West represents more than thirteen thousand working people in the province of Saskatchewan. They include members who work in healthcare, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors.

– 30 –

For more information, contact:

Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator

Phone: 306.652.1011 ext. 2250

 

For a PDF of this Media Release, click on the link below:

Media Release: Essential Services Constraints Continue

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Speak out for Fairness – SEA Letter to MLAs

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

SEA Campaign – Background

In May of 2012, the Saskatchewan Government introduced a process they called ‘A Consultation Paper on the Renewal of Labour Legislation’. They stated that they wanted to hear from all stakeholders as they moved to modernize our labour legislation and that they wanted to make it easier to understand. They gave notice that all responses had to be submitted in a 90 day window and they included 15 different labour laws in the mix. Not only was this process being rushed; it was an overwhelming project to take on going into summer.

We had over 200 of our members and a large number of our leaders in SEIU-West that cleared their schedule and worked hard to put together a full reply. In addition, approximately 2,000 SEIU-West members participated by way of the ‘Keep Saskatchewan Moving Forward’ postcard campaign.

On December 4, 2012, the Saskatchewan Government introduced the new Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA). The bill is 184 pages in length and it is intended to replace 12 current labour laws including, The Labour Standards Act, The Trade Union Act, The Occupational Health & Safety Act, The Health Labour Relations Reorganizations Act, among others.

Like an iceberg, Bill 85, the new Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA) may look harmless on the surface, but as we know, 90% of an iceberg is hidden under the water.

What lies beneath?

Do you really know how these changes will affect you and your children’s working lives?

SEIU-West has launched the SEA Campaign in order to offer highlights of the lengthy bill and to encourage discussions and questions about the upcoming changes.

In this campaign, we have identified 10 Red Flag issues that working people should take another look at; let’s ask the government to fix these problems in the legislation before it is made law.

One Red Flag issue will be released every week for next 10 week period. You can participate by emailing your MLA, the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, as well as the Opposition Labour Critic. You can call your MLA with your concerns as well.

SEIU-West would like you to check back regularly and pick the issue(s) that you think need to be changed.

If you would like to have a sneak peak at the issues we’ve identified, click on the SEA Brochure.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

SEA Red Flag Issue 1: Stormy Seas Ahead

Our experience with collective bargaining continues to be plagued with roadblocks and delays. The SEA does nothing to improve this and in fact allows for the employer to force a membership vote on a last offer, and then, subsequently the Minister can force a membership vote on the same last offer. How is this time and money well spent if your Bargaining Committee sees both as poor offers and can’t bargain a fair collective agreement for you?

We can see the difference – can you?

See section 6-36 of the SEA (which will replace The Trade Union Act)

The SEA allows for both the employer and the government to force a vote on a last offer made in collective bargaining.  The last offer can be made by the employer at any time after bargaining has commenced and the SEA does not limit only one vote being ordered under this section; rather, if it is in the public interest – then a second vote can be ordered and there is no requirement that the last offer be improved or changed in any way.  This is like saying, ‘I know you turned down the last offer already, but are you sure that you won’t accept our last offer?’ and comes at the expense of the workers who also suffer a further delay in process.  This appears to be nothing but a bullying tactic.

Click here to tell your MLA that you don’t want more delays to the bargaining process.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment