Follow Up from the May 28 Virtual Town Hall: Evening Session Questions

Below are answers to the questions we were not able to answer live due to time constraints as well as some we thought should be included that were answered live during the call.

As always, if you have questions regarding the status of bargaining or a question about your SEIU-West collective agreement, contact our Member Resource Centre (MRC) 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298 or use our website contact form

Click here to get an overview of what happened during the virtual telephone town hall before questions were asked and to see the answers to the afternoon session questions.

Q: Connie - Please keep seniority as hours based. Also - suggestion - members can go on the SaskParty Faceook page and enter comments on any of their posts.

Thanks for your feedback Connie! And I appreciate the suggestion for members to share their thoughts with the SaskParty. I also strongly recommend that members share their stories about what they do and the impact of not having a wage increase or collective agreement in a letter to the Premier. We need to lift our voices so he can hear us and see us. If any members want some help with this, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’re always happy to help. Please call the MRC at 1 888 999 7348 ext. 2298 and ask to connect with the Political Action department. or send an email message via the contact us page on the website.

Q: Vanessa - So long story short… are we going to have to settle for no retro pay?'

The short answer is no, we are still including retro into our proposal package.

Q: Shannon - I'd like to know the wage increases and benefits that SHA/SAHO staff have received since our last wage/benefit increases have been given. Their reason for increasing their wage is it not the same as ours? Or are we just their slave labour' 'Where I work, all staff, myself included, who are an ESW have now been trained to assist CCA staff to turn or transfer elders just in case short staffing occurs due to COVID… this along with helping other departments is turning our job to more than just housekeeping.

We don’t have that data, but we can see if we can dig up those details. We support the notion that people working in healthcare should have regular wage increases in order to address the rising costs that we all face…regardless of what classification or position you are in.

On the reference that you as an ESW have been trained to assist in transfers and lifting of elders, this work activity is not included in your job description. If you and your co-workers are actually assisting CCA staff in TLR, this is a change to your job. The Collective Agreement contains language to allow you and your co-workers to ask for a review of your job to reflect the additions to your work activities. Please call the MRC at 1 888 999 7348 ext. 2298 or send an email message via the contact us page on the website to get advice on initiating that process.

Q - Kyla - How is date of hire seniority a bad thing? Working "hard" is subjective. What will happen if PM Trudeau creates a 4 day work week?

I don’t think Date of Hire seniority is a ‘bad’ thing…but it’s very different to how we calculate seniority now. It significantly changes how a member “earns” seniority. Seniority is one of the defining features of union membership and it is apparent to the bargaining committee that the membership is not in favour of a change at this time.

What happens if PM Trudeau creates a 4 day work week – I honestly don’t know. Ideally it would mean a reduction in hours but no reduction in pay. Practically, if hours per day were increased it would mean new work schedules that would have to accommodate the 24/7 operational requirements of health care. The traditional 5-5-4 (EDO on the 3rd Friday) hours of work parameters may change. I don’t have an answer to your question but what I can say is that the topic of a 4 day workweek (outside of specific LOU agreements) will not be part of the current bargaining process.

Q - Lauralee - Do we worry about how the public will view us given the amount of people who have lost their jobs due to this pandemic? If your position is deemed an Essential Service, would that process be done by seniority

We have a rare moment where the public sees our work in a different light – while they don’t completely understand it, they see the essential and vital nature of health care work and the workers going into the fire to keep the rest of the population safe. And that’s not only Dr. and RN’s – but the broad spectrum of members we represent. I think that the public are shocked by the conditions that are coming to light in health care.

In any sort of job action or labour dispute, we need to put forward the importance of our work but value the work of everyone. And call for those who’ve been laid off to be brought back to their workplaces safely. But I don’t think that because there are layoffs, that we shouldn’t be standing up for the value of our work in health care and the need for more and proper resources.

We’ve discussed how people would be assigned the essential duties, but haven’t finalized a plan. Our membership has collectively authorized the Union to take all job actions necessary to attain our demands and we believe all members support one another as we move forward.

Q - Alana - If we go the Essential Services route and we are all deemed essential... does the system run at full capacity or how does that process work.

Duties are deemed essential, not individuals. . Only those duties that are deemed essential would be done by our members. The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board has adopted the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition: services, which if interrupted, would endanger the life, health or personal safety of the whole or part of the population.

The Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA) sets out that employees who are not part of the SEIU-West bargaining unit should be considered as part of an essential services plan. No, I don’t think it would run at full capacity

Q: Wendy - In any of the discussions has there been talks on mandatory licensing fees and malpractice insurance and having those costs covered?

We have discussed this under professional licensing fees (article 19.07). We are challenged by this being considered as part of the overall compensation that is covered by our pay equity plan. We have asked, effective April 1, 2018, for the reimbursement to be the amount established as of April 1, 2017 in order to capture members whose professional association has made an increase to fees, licensing or insurance.

Q: Shelby - Who decides what duties are Essential Services? Who is doing that audit? Will we have a say in that?

That is part of the negotiation process that we are engaging in with SAHO and the employer.

SEIU-West has been gathering this information from our members via a survey over the past year in order to get a better picture of what your work looks like. We want to make sure that the particulars are captured regardless of where a person works.

If you’re interested in being a contact for this essential service work, please contact the Member Resource Center at 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298 or use the ‘contact’ link on our website.

Q: Lois - How long will it take to finally go on strike with all of the processes Bob has explained?

That’s kind of hard to pinpoint Lois. Because this essential services process hasn’t been challenged in health care, we don’t actually have any past practice in healthcare to show how long it may take.

Both the impasse process set out in The Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA) and the essential services negotiations may take as little as 4 months to complete. Chances are good, though, that it will take longer.

Q: Danielle - If we go on strike… if it is during the COVID crisis will that negatively affect our residents and pts.

The short answer to this is not in any significant way, Danielle. The requirements of the essential services legislation mean that our members will provide services, which if interrupted, would endanger the life, health or personal safety of the whole or part of the population. Also the employer will need to provide out of scope staff and others who might be able to assist. Residents and patients may be inconvenienced because it will not be “business as usual”, but on one’s health or safety will be jeopardized.

Thanks again to the members who’ve been sharing their thoughts about bargaining issues and participating in virtual town hall calls, emails, texts, and on social media. Whether the feedback is good or bad, it’s important to engage with your union.

In Solidarity, on behalf of the SEIU-West bargaining committee,

Barbara Cape
President, SEIU-West

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