The fourth installment of questions and answers regarding the tentative agreement, asked as of December 18, 2020.
62. I work at an affiliate in former Five Hills and also at a facility in former Cypress...will my seniority amalgamate?
a. The seniority date will reflect your hours of seniority in each of the former regional health authorities – this process doesn’t combine your earned seniority at this time. We are going to have discussions about transitioning to one employer under SHA and this issue will likely be addressed in those discussions.
63. How would the conversion affect retirement date?
a. The conversion to a seniority date would not affect your retirement date as that is based on years of service with the employer, not seniority.
64. The four hours min shift - is that 4 hours regular time and also 4 hour min for overtime?
a. The four hours minimum shift is current language for all others except homecare.
b. We recently won an arbitration that agrees with our interpretation that minimum hours applies to overtime. We are working on how to implement that arbitration.
65. Do we get 1% and 2% based on our current wage or what our wage was in those years, since I've moved up steps?
a. The general wage increase will be calculated on what you were earning during the period of time of the wage increase; there will be retro for the 2019 and part of 2020 timeframes.
66. If we go to date of hire and there are 2 or 3 hired on the same date who would have the most seniority?
a. We will have a ‘tie-breaker’ process that will sort those who are hired on the same date or have the same seniority date by birthday (either the first birth month or the first birth date). This is a process currently referenced in the collective agreement under call in, for new employees in their probationary period.
67. About the seniority date will it be refreshed every year? Say someone has the same hours as me but they're only working PT and I'm working FT? This calculation only happens once, correct?
a. This calculation, if the tentative agreement is accepted, will happen once. Members will have their hours of seniority converted to a seniority date and that will not change.
68. Will OT also go by seniority date?
a. Overtime is currently offered by seniority within the department and in the same classification, and that will not change.
69. I retired due to workload issues and wondering if that is going to get better. Also will there be back pay from 2017 to 2019?
a. We hope there will be some improvement to addressing workload issues by using the new Workload language. By giving the Occupational Health and Safety Committees the authority to investigate workload concerns, including a look at staffing levels, that gives a stronger mandate for the OHC and the need for the employer to address this issue. Further to that, if there is no improvement, the Occupational Health and Safety Branch of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety can be called on for assistance to address the issue.
b. There won’t be retro for 2017 and 2018 as the general wage increase is 0% for those two years. Retirees will qualify for the $200 lump sum payment; 1% for 2019 commencing on April 1; and 2% for most of 2020.
70. I am eligible to retire. But not everyone who retired and wants to return is being hired back. Does management get to decide who comes back?
a. Yes, the employer does get to decide who they want to rehire back. This is within their management rights, just like they get to decide who to hire initially.
71. The better than language would go to 2022 …what if SUN negotiates a better than in their next contract?
a. As I understand it, SUN is currently undergoing the ratification process of their collective agreement. Like us, I don’t believe they’ll release the details until their members have had a chance to review and vote on it. However, with what we know about public sector bargaining and the number of unions who have accepted the public sector general wage mandate, we would be very surprised if SUN was able to negotiate additional improvements in their collective agreement. However, with every collective agreement, unions always want to make some progress towards improvements for our members and it is our obligation to look at what improvements our members want
72. What are we losing by giving up the unfair labour practice?
a. The unfair labour practice stemmed from the 2008 round of bargaining and was filed in 2010. This was the longest hearing in the history of the Labour Relations Board (LRB) – over 240 days of hearings and testimony. The LRB decided that SAHO only committed a few unfair labour practice, and the parties achieved a collective agreement in any event so “no harm, no foul” to the union membership. SEIU-West and SGEU appealed this to the Court of Queen’s Bench on a Judicial Review. The Judicial Review was decided in our favour - SAHO did commit unfair labour practices in the Labor Relations Board should have considered an appropriate penalty for SAHO. SAHO appealed this to the Court of Appeal who ultimately ordered that the LRB should have considered a remedy for the union members as a result of the unfairly were practices that SAHO did commit. The problem is that the chair of the Labor Relations Board at the time is now a judge and can’t rehear the case; the union nominee is deep into retirement, and the employer nominee passed away. It would be a brand-new Labor Relations Board panel to hear the case and the LRB procedures say that the evidence has to be re-presented to the new panel – in other words, retry the case! Presently, we are working on reviewing thousands of pages of transcripts to determine what needs to be put before the LRB. Essentially, the issue now is not about whether or not SAHO committed unfair labour practices – they did. The issue is about what penalty, if any, should SAHO have to pay as a result of their unfair labour practices. The bargaining committee believes that the amount that SAHO is prepared to pay every member is a win for the union.
73. If your date of hire changes due to hours worked does that effect your retirement date? I.E. if I can retire in 11 years based on my current hire date and with hours adjusted if I have not worked full time all those years now I can’t retire for 13 years.
a. The short answer to whether the seniority change affects your retirement date is no, it will not. More broadly, your retirement date is based on years of service, not your seniority.
74. Does going to seniority date not encourage people not to work as opposed to busting your butt to get hours to get ahead?
a. Respectfully, I don’t agree. If people want to get a paycheque, they’ll work. In other unions that have seniority date that we’ve looked at, there doesn’t appear to be a marked difference in that aspect between their system and our hours based system.
75. Will this not mean more short staffing as it is hard enough to get people to work as it is?
a. Short staffing is not related to the seniority system so I don’t believe it will cause a greater burden on staffing. However, staffing levels have been a problem even before the pandemic and the public sees the incredible pressure that the system currently operates under. We need to continue to raise the issue of short staffing and increased workloads throughout the health care system. These shortstaffing levels are simply not sustainable! We need the public to be way more vocal about this issue: we’ve gone public about staffing levels; we’ve had meetings with Ministers and the Premier, but the politicians won’t do anything until the public gets vocal and angry.
76. Please explain the employer pays 100% medical benefit for 1 year. Does this mean our monthly premium deducted off our paystubs?
a. This is the Extended Health and Enhanced Dental Benefits that are 100% employer paid. Employees do not have any premiums deducted off their pay stubs for the extended health and enhance dental benefits plan.
77. How will we be able to verify our hours to know if our hours are calculated properly?
a. Check the seniority list at your facility. In the former Saskatoon Health Region, you can check on Gateway Online; in the former Cypress, Five Hills and Heartland Health Regions, the paper copy of the list should be posted in a place accessible by all employees.
78. If the majority votes no what does that mean? Some feel we can strike but I think it puts us back at the beginning.
a. If the majority votes no, the first thing we will do is advise our members and then inform SAHO. We’ll need to get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible, it doesn’t necessarily put us all the way back at the beginning, but we will need to start bargaining again.
b. Because we were at impasse that brought us to this point, we would also continue with our essential services work. All the information that our members sent us will be used to set essential services levels. We would need to negotiate with SHA for essential services – and the likelihood of us agreeing is pretty slim. So we would then need to go to the Essential Services Tribunal to have them make a ruling on the essential services levels. Then we would need to serve a ‘cooling off period’ and then could serve 48 hours of strike notice.