Saskatoon, February 3, 2021
Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
Since out last update on January 12, 2021, and for months before that SEIU-West has been working to find the best way to move bargaining forward in the face of a lot of obstacles and challenges. As a result of that work, we have information which we would like to share with our members, both in this update and in more detail in virtual membership meetings on February 16 and 19, 2021. We encourage you to attend one or both of these meetings so you can ask your questions and receive answers. SEIU-West President, Barbara Cape will be in attendance so she can hear your questions first hand. These will be virtual meetings that you can join by video or phone. In order to get the meeting details, we ask that you RSVP on our Events page (www.seiuwest.ca/events).
SEIU-West has approached the Employer to restart bargaining. Lead negotiator Cam McConnell reached out to the Employer’s lead negotiator on January 27, 2021 to advise that circumstances had changed and there was now an opportunity to move forward. Their negotiator responded on February 1, 2021 and agreed that, after some more internal consultation, they would consider coming back to the table.
Throughout bargaining the Employer’s position has been that CBS will provide as a general wage increase whatever is agreed to at the Provincial Health Care provider union tables. That’s been a major frustration from the start. We have said that’s unfair and it isn’t bargaining in good faith and we filed an Unfair Labour Practice complaint to try to deal with it. Unfortunately that hearing has been delayed again and again due to the pandemic and other bad luck and now can’t proceed to an outcome until the fall of 2021 at the earliest. That’s too long to wait.
But the Employer’s position is not all bad news. The SEIU-West health care table didn’t settle until the middle of January, 2021 and the outcome there was different than the outcome at the other provider union tables (CUPE and SGEU). We did win some concessions and some extra compensation. So now we are now in a position to go back to the Employer, using their own words, and say, if you insist on a settlement that’s based on the outcome at the provincial table then it has to be based on what SEIU-West negotiated. Not what any other union took. SEIU-West bargains hard on behalf of all its members and that benefits all our members whether they’re at the same table or not.
Bargaining has been in a stalemate for a long time. That’s not news. It’s because of a lot factors. It’s partly because of the Employer’s tactics and position throughout bargaining. The Employer has a long history of intransigence and stalling in bargaining and that has been a challenge in this round as well as past rounds. It’s also because of the labour legislation in Saskatchewan that creates many obstacles to any kind of job action and, in large measure, it’s because the pandemic has thrown a wrench into how we conduct business in general.
Despite those obstacles SEIU-West has been pushing in whatever way we can to enhance our position at bargaining and to represent the interests of the members at CBS. We’ve now reached the point where we believe we can bring the Employer back to the table and get a proposal for the members to vote on. That will be the real test of how we proceed. We will know from that if we continue to try and resolve the problems that the Employer’s tactics have created for us – the delays through essential services wrangling and not negotiating directly with the CBS members – or if we take what we have achieved and look to the next round to address the other concerns.
We hope you will be at the meetings on February 16 and 19. Remember, stay tuned to our website or watch for posters on your union bulletin board for more details on how to join the membership meetings.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about bargaining or your work place don’t hesitate to call the Member Resource Centre at 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298 or by using the ‘Contact’ form on SEIUWEST.ca (www.seiuwest.ca/contact).
The Union and the bargaining committee members thank you for your patience and congratulate everyone for continuing to provide valuable services to the public through this challenging time.
Your SEIU-West bargaining committee:
SEIU-West members: Heather Dyck (Unit Chair, CBS Saskatoon); Leona Woykin (Unit Vice-Chair – retired/CBS Saskatoon); Kristie Pearton (Unit Vice-Chair, CBS Saskatoon); Jason Coombs (Bargaining Committee member, CBS Regina); Nicole Bork (Bargaining Committee member, CBS Regina); • SEIU-West staff: Cam McConnell (Negotiations Officer); Cheryl Champagne (Union Representative) and Shelley Johnson (Union Representative).