Date: April 8, 2022
Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
SEIU-West has finally received a decision from the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (LRB) on our unfair labour practice complaint against Canadian Blood Services (CBS). Turns out that we were right!
At LRB hearings in June and November of 2021 we alleged that CBS had been refusing to bargain, deliberately delaying bargaining, and bargaining in bad faith, and that CBS was using the Essential Services provisions of the law as a delaying tactic. Last Wednesday (April 6, 2022) the LRB determined that our allegations were correct and ordered CBS to stop bargaining dishonestly and to provide more bargaining dates.
The LRB declined to answer the question of whether CBS workers can go on strike, saying that only an Essential Services tribunal can make that decision. This was a bit of a disappointment, as the Essential Services process is unclear, time-consuming, and stacked against unions. However, the LRB’s decision overall seems to weaken the Employer’s position on this question.
The Employer began using bad-faith tactics even before bargaining began. We first sent CBS notice to bargain in December 2016, but despite our multiple, repeated offers of meeting dates, CBS did not come to the table until March 2018. As we reported in our 9 previous bargaining updates, and as the LRB outlined in its decision, when CBS finally did come to the table, they were unprepared and stubbornly uninterested in discussing our proposals.
We kept fighting and pushing in good faith to get a deal for our members, but ended up deadlocked anyway. So in November 2019 we filed an unfair labour practice complaint at the LRB. Because of COVID and more Employer delays and some plain bad luck it took two years to get our hearing. In the meantime, while waiting first for our hearing and then for the decision, we kept trying to find a way to advance bargaining, include public campaigns and information pickets. We have finally persuaded the Employer to come back to the table on April 12 and 13 to try and find a solution with the help of a conciliator. If those two days aren’t enough to reach a deal, the LRB decision orders the Employer to provide five more days of bargaining before the end of May.
We are determined to come out of these negotiations with an agreement that we can put to a vote of our members. We are not in a mood to make more concessions.
On Wednesday, April 13th, we plan to celebrate our win and show the Employer our determination with actions at both the Saskatoon and Regina premises of CBS. Please check the Events page of our website and contact your local site strike committee to find out when and how you can participate. Let’s keep the pressure on! Let the Employer know, while they’re at the table with us, that 5 years without a deal is too long.
Thank you for your patience throughout this long process. Please stay tuned for more detailed updates soon regarding the Board’s decision, the state of bargaining, and where we stand with essential services. In the meantime please, please plan to join us on the 13th.
Your SEIU-West bargaining committee:
SEIU-West members: Heather Dyck (Unit Chair, CBS Saskatoon); Kristie Pearton (Unit Vice-Chair, CBS Saskatoon); Jason Coombs (Bargaining Committee member, CBS Regina); Tanya Palaniuk (Bargaining Committee member, CBS Regina); • SEIU-West staff: Cam McConnell (Negotiations Officer); Marj Markwart (Union Representative) and Shelley Johnson (Union Representative).