Date: May 13, 2022
Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
Since our last bargaining update on April 14 there have been more twists and turns and some tiny steps forward. We reported that we had come to the table on April 12 and 13 with a limited-time offer to resolve bargaining. The Employer didn’t agree, so we met with them again on April 26 where we retabled our previous position, just as we’d warned them we would. Although the Employer wasn’t very happy, we settled in to continue bargaining.
We next met on May 6, 9, and 10, without the conciliator, and continued bargaining. We tabled proposals with a signing bonus and the same wage increases as before, as well as some other monetary items and non-monetary items that we’d retabled. A significant issue now, as before, is how much of a signing bonus will accompany the wage increases. We’ve told the Employer what it will take and that if they can’t provide that then we will need something from the remaining list before we can come back to you to make it a deal. The Employer has inched our way and we have inched their way, but we still have some distance to cover. The details are frustrating and complicated but that’s what it boils down to – except there’s a twist.
After further bargaining sessions on May 12 and 13 we asked the Labour Relations Board (LRB) to dismiss the Employer’s unfair labour practice complaint because it meant more delay and because in their April 6 decision (ruling that the Employer was guilty of Unfair Labour Practices) the LRB refused to decide if essential services applied to CBS or not. The LRB said that that can only be determined by an essential services tribunal. We thought we were closing in on the end of all these delays. But because we asked for a summary dismissal of their complaint, the Employer applied to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a judicial review of the LRB’s April 6 decision. No, really! Then they asked the LRB to postpone the hearing for the Employer’s complaint until after we’re finished at Queen’s Bench. So we withdrew the application for summary dismissal and we requested that the Employer’s Unfair Labour Practice hearing proceed. The Employer said they still needed a delay – to focus on bargaining (no laughing) – and, to our dismay, the LRB agreed. The Employer’s Unfair Complaint is postponed, and we won’t even meet to pick a new date for the hearing for months – not until after the Queen’s Bench review is done. This could easily add a year to the delays.
We can continue to bargain, and we might get a deal, but we still don’t know about whether we have the right to strike and we aren’t going to know for a very long time. If you’re still wondering why the Employer hasn’t taken the real steps they need to in order to find out if essential services actually applies, the answer is simple; they don’t have to. We can’t risk a strike while we don’t know if essential service applies and we are going to be waiting to know for so long that it makes no difference. But we continue to bargain and here’s how it been going.
Our April 26 proposal had a signing bonus but not the condition that the Employer withdraw their Unfair Labour Practice complaint. They came back with a small signing bonus but in exchange for it we had to withdraw all the meal break grievances. We said no deal. We responded by maintaining our signing bonus and whittling a little off the non-monetary list. They came back with a small increase to their signing bonus and withdrawal of their unfair complaint. We said withdrawing the complaint is not enough for us to accept so small a bonus and withdraw the remaining non-monetary. So we are inching closer. We have now tabled a proposal that includes the same signing bonus we have tabled several times and a condition that the Employer withdraw all their complaints and applications. But we also whittled down another bit of the non-monetary. Basically, they are offering a stop to the delays as a bargaining chip. We have responded that we are delighted to include withdrawal of the complaints and hearings as part of a final deal but we aren’t going to give anything up for it. We still have to get to a deal that we can bring back to you and we are going to bargain toward that deal the old-fashioned way. Setting aside all our other frustrations the Board said the Employer failed to bargain and ordered that they had to try again for a little while and that’s what we are going to do.
We are now scheduled to meet on May 24 and 25 and we expect to continue in much the same way. Although we are still in limbo regarding job action we need to press on with our public campaign through picket action and advertising and any way we can make some noise and get pressure and attention on the Employer. Please continue to watch for updates about ways you can participate.
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).