December 11 is a province wide vote in our health care sector covered by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Details about voting should be on your union board or on our website. You can vote at any SEIU-West health care facility in the province. If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact the Member Resource Center at 1-888-999-7348 Ext 2298.
Your SEIU-West bargaining committee held virtual townhall calls in early November and also held meetings at our facilities all across the province in the following weeks. We were providing an update to the members on the state of bargaining and asking for their support for a job action vote (the vote to be held tomorrow). There are also bargaining updates on our website if you want to see the evolution of how we got to this point.
As you might recall, SEIU-West members voted on a tentative agreement with SAHO in the spring. This was rejected. So the bargaining committee got back to the table to negotiate through the summer and fall. We were very clear with SAHO that this was about money. Your SEIU-West bargaining committee tried to be flexible and creative in coming up with proposals and solutions to these concerns –but SAHO was ‘stuck’ in that they couldn’t figure out any way to address the issues that we identified on behalf of our members. We also engaged in voluntary conciliation – this is a process by which a third party helps SAHO and ourselves to find a common solution to resolve the agreement.
SAHO had no mandate or instructions to reach a resolve. So we agreed to put a pause on the voluntary conciliation process and seek a job action mandate from our members. And that is the vote tomorrow. We are asking our members to vote in favour of job action.
“Job Action” doesn’t automatically mean that we are going on strike. In fact, with the essential services legislation, there are a number of hoops to jump through. We would have to reach impasse at the bargaining table, we would have to move through mandatory conciliation and serve a ‘cooling off’ period and we would need to negotiate an essential services agreement; that would take time. I know some folks had thought that we would be on strike before Christmas, and that is simply not true.
Also, ‘job action’ can mean a number of things: work to rule or a ban on overtime, all of this, before we would look at a strike under the essential services agreement.
The bargaining committee doesn’t make this request lightly, but we are rapidly approaching 1000 days without a collective agreement and feel that this is the next logical step to spur a resolve.
This is really the ‘coles notes’ version of the presentations that we did across the province. But if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Member Resource Center at 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298.
In Solidarity, on behalf of the SEIU-West bargaining committee,
Barbara Cape, SEIU-West President