Sign up for CUPE Saskatchewan email updates to get the latest in union events and news delivered to you – even on your phone!
This week, families across Saskatoon learned that the Sask. Party’s refusal to properly fund Saskatchewan’s classrooms is again causing more support workers to be taken out of their children’s schools and thrown out of work.
On top of cuts to teacher-librarian and other teaching positions, 16 secretaries in elementary schools across Saskatoon Public Schools are being laid off and will apparently be replaced by “absence reporting software.”
“The people who work in and out of classrooms are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. They’re committed members of the school community and an important part of our young people’s education,” said Scott Barrett, President of CUPE Local 8443, representing 1,100 support workers in public schools across Saskatoon. “When you take these people out of our schools, all students suffer. Workload becomes an issue as well. The work to support classrooms doesn’t just go away when you take away crucial support staff. It inevitably means all students get less support in the classroom. All our support reinforce the classroom in one form or another.”
Telephone calls in the city of Winnipeg went unanswered and patched through in the morning of May 15, 1919. Women telephone operators would be the first among many brave workers to walk off the job and withdraw their labour in solidarity for a greater cause. By 11 a.m., Winnipeg was grinding to a halt as courageous workers, both unionized and those not represented by a union, walked off the job with their fellow co-workers in numbers that grew up to more than an estimated 35,000 people strong. The strikers and supporters demanded living wages and the recognized right to collectively bargain better pay and conditions from their employers and government. This historic mass demonstration in Canada’s history, known as the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, lasted six weeks and ushered in a legacy of reforms, labour rights, social programs and subsequent hard-fought gains made by workers organizing together in unions. It made clear that workers have power when they stand together in solidarity. While the strike ended in violence and repression, its legacy lives on and the courage of those who risked their livelihoods and life for a better world should not be forgotten.
Greeted at the front doors with a surprise reception of their own by the union representing university support workers and their allies, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) President was reminded during his visit to Regina yesterday that denying a fair deal and attacking workers’ pensions are not an acceptable vision for Saskatchewan’s largest university based in Saskatoon. The U of S President, Peter Stoicheff, was visiting Regina for a special event billed as an opportunity to network and hear about the bold vision from the university’s top official. For the workers at the U of S, the wine and cheese closed-door networking event a city away from its main campus appeared glaringly out-of-touch with the labour discontent and strike looming at the university caused by the cuts its top brass is demanding from workers.
“The U of S President and the board should be reminded that they are being reckless and misguided in their attacks to the pensions of university support workers and wage freezes that deny the reality of a rising cost of living,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Dedicated university workers deserve much more respect than what they are getting from the USask President and the board of governors.”
Today on May 1, 2019, workers and their unions celebrate the achievements of the labour movement. Unions have fought hard and enduring struggles to establish collective bargaining and democracy in the workplace to bring decency, fairness and safety standards to work. Because of the labour movement, workers in Saskatchewan and Canada can rely on basic employment standards, occupational health and safety legislation, the right to join a union to bargain better working conditions and pay, pension plans, reliable and accessible public services and much more we sometimes take for granted. Workers have made gains by gathering together in their unions for solidarity in the workplace, at the bargaining table, on the picket line and by raising their voices together in their community and legislatures for justice, for dignity and for the interests of workers and their families before private profits.
Check out the May Works events hosted by the Regina & District Labour Council (Click read more).
“We are thrilled that the workers at the Town of Esterhazy voted to join our growing union,” said Guy Marsden, National Representative. “We are proud to represent municipal workers from all across Saskatchewan: from Creighton to Kamsack, to Wilkie and Wadena.
The newest members of CUPE voted to join the union in a mail-in ballot that was counted on April 9, 2019. The Labour Relations Board issued the certification order on April 29, 2019.
April 28 is a National Day of Mourning to remember those who tragically lost their lives while at work and to recognize those who endured an injury or acquired an illness or disease as a result of their work. Sadly, 48 Saskatchewan people died as a result of their job last year (2018) from occupational disease and traumatic events, not including farm-related fatalities or other workplaces that are not covered or reported by workers’ compensation. The total number of workplace fatalities and total overall injury rate increased from 2017. Over 22,343 workplace injuries occurred in Saskatchewan workplaces last year and were accepted by Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Board (including time loss claims and no time loss claims), among the over 28,952 claims reported to WCB.
On the National Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace, we remember those we have lost and we renew our resolve as workers and union members to defend and improve workplace safety standards.
Attend a ceremony of observance in your community on Sunday, April 28, 2019. Click “Continue Reading” for event listings.
The two events were organized by CUPE members and activists. Activists handed out information about the labour dispute and talked to attendees about the issues facing the local.
“One of CUPE’s greatest strengths is the solidarity we share beyond provincial and sector boundaries. It means a lot to our members to see activists from across the country standing with us,” said Craig Hannah, president of CUPE Local 1975. “I hope it sends a strong message to the University of Saskatchewan: When you take on CUPE Local 1975, you take on CUPE’s 680,000 members across the country.”
The University of Saskatchewan is pushing a three year wage freeze and wants to dismantle the local’s secure defined benefit pension plan and replace it with either a defined contribution or target benefit plan. CUPE Local 1975 has a strong strike mandate from its members and will be in a legal strike position upon the conclusion of a labour board hearing on essential services.
**AS OF MAY 9, 2019 – REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.**
During this annual voyage, participants navigate the waters of the South Saskatchewan River by canoe beginning at Clarkboro Ferry Crossing (formerly Warman Ferry Crossing) and arriving at the historic Métis community of Batoche—learning Aboriginal culture, history and traditions along the way. The CUPE Saskatchewan canoe trip coincides with the Back to Batoche celebrations of the Métis Nation in Saskatchewan which take place on July 18 – 21, 2019.
After the canoe trip, participants are encouraged to attend the Back to Batoche festivities. Spaces are limited! Register today! Please provide your email address with registration.
On April 1st, Saskatchewan now has the dubious distinction of having the lowest minimum wage in the country.
“With a minimum wage of $11.06 an hour, many workers in Saskatchewan are struggling to make ends meet,” says Tom Graham, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “Raising the minimum wage is not just the right thing to do – it makes economic sense. More workers with more money in their pockets means more spending in our local economy.”
In Saskatchewan, 20% of the entire workforce earns less than $15 per hour. Provincially, about 40% of all workers earning minimum wage are between the ages of 15 and 19. However, workers between the ages of 35 and 64 constitute the second-largest cohort of minimum wage earners at 30% of the total.
CUPE’s organizing drive, which started in November, has added educational associates from Rosthern Elementary School and Rosthern High School and the Perdue caretaker to the CUPE Local 4254 bargaining unit.
“We are proud to represent 14 new members from Rosthern and Perdue,” said Grace Wudrick, President of CUPE Local 4254. “These new members will benefit greatly from being part of Canada’s largest union with job security, enhanced benefits, and many other collective agreement rights.”