President's Message: Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation Sanctions Vote

On February 10 and 11, the members of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) held a ‘sanctions’ vote (strike vote) in support of their bargaining. The results were shared publicly on February 24 with a strong mandate of 90.2% in favour. SEIU-West wants to walk through what that means to our members in the Education sector and how all of our members can show support for our brothers and sisters in STF.

Our members who work at the Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division were on strike for just over three weeks a few years ago. They know, better than most, that this is a time of anxiety and frustration. People are looking for as many clear answers as possible as they evaluate the impact on their families and talk with their reps about next steps. I encourage you to remain supportive of your colleagues, but avoid engaging in the dispute discussions directly; this is their fight, and we will be there to support them – but not take over.

A job action can mean many things to different organizations. For example it could mean full, partial, or rotating walk out of all staff affiliated to the particular union/organization. The STF has identified ‘study sessions’ among options for job action.

For SEIU-West members, this means that we will not do any STF or ‘teacher’ duties and will respect their job action. If you aren’t clear if the assigned duty is within the scope of your job description or duties, contact the SEIU-West Member Resource Centre (MRC) at 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298 or talk with your Unit Chairperson for direction.

If you want to walk a picket line with your STF colleagues, you are most welcome to do so on your own time. In fact, SEIU-West strongly encourages that show of solidarity and will provide picket signs, flags and materials to help you do so.

If the school division asks you to do ‘temporary work of higher duties’ – this should not be an STF teacher’s work. This collective agreement language refers to work within the bargaining unit – not the work of a STF member who is not a part of our collective agreement. This is a different article in each collective agreement for Holy Family Roman Catholic School Division; Chinook School Division; and South East Cornerstone Public School Division but the direction is the same. Just to be clear though, if the employer is requesting you to do duties which you believe are those of an STF member you should inform the employer of your objection and that you will be consulting SEIU-West. If the employer is insistent, the rule of thumb is to comply now and file the grievance.

If there is a picket line in front of your school, we encourage you to identify yourself to the picket captain (or School Staff Liaison for STF) to get a picket pass to cross the line to attend your own work in the school. It is respectful of the picket line and gives you a chance to show your support and solidarity for your colleagues.

We’ve reached out to the STF to discuss next steps and will update our members accordingly.

Should you have any questions about this process, please contact President Barbara Cape at barb.cape@seiuwest.ca.

In solidarity,

Barbara Cape
President, SEIU-West

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