“I will fight like hell for Saskatchewan workers”: Kent Peterson elected new president of province’s largest union

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Today, members of Saskatchewan’s largest union – CUPE Saskatchewan – elected Kent Peterson as their new president.

“I want to thank my fellow CUPE members for their support. They know I will fight like hell for Saskatchewan workers,” said Kent Peterson, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Scott Moe has been cutting and selling-off public services for years. That’s why medical wait times are out of control. It is why kids don’t have enough EAs in school. It is why wages aren’t keeping up. The workers I represent have had enough.”

Peterson has served as secretary-treasurer of CUPE Saskatchewan since 2020. Peterson is committed to fighting for the 31,000 members of CUPE Saskatchewan who deliver public services in the health care, education, and municipal sectors. As president, he looks forward to the opportunities to improve the lives of workers by helping elect progressive candidates in this year’s school board, municipal, and provincial elections.

“Every worker in Saskatchewan has been shortchanged by Scott Moe. In this year’s elections, bigger pay cheques are on the ballot. Respect is on the ballot. Fixing the health care crisis is on the ballot,” added Peterson. “The gig is up for Scott Moe and bad bosses. We are mobilizing for change, and we will win.”

Delegates also elected secretary-treasurer, Erin Auchstaetter for a two-year term.

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Earth Day 2024: Climate Emergency, Action for Ecosystem Restoration

April 22 is Earth Day – a day to recognize the climate change emergency and the action needed to restore our earth. With the world continuing to head for a catastrophic temperature rise and human caused destruction threatening the earth’s ecosystems needed to sustain life, Earth Day is an important time to renew our resolve to demand more urgent environmental action from governments, employers and within our communities in the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Action to restore our damaged ecosystems and urgently shifting to a more equitable, sustainable economy will safeguard our health in the future and that of our only planet.

Earth Day 2024 is within the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, which is a rallying call to halt the already significant degradation of ecosystems and achieve global goals of restoration on every continent and in every ocean. We are experiencing a dangerous decline in nature, and humans are causing it. The decade 2021-2030 coincides with the 2023 deadline for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline identified by scientists as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Acting with urgency on climate change is the defining challenge of our times. CUPE Locals are invited to sign the CUPE Climate Change Emergency Declaration and to act on the steps outlined in the declaration.

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CUPE: New report highlights crisis in rural health care

A new research report into the state of rural health care in Saskatchewan confirms what CUPE already knew – rural health care is in crisis and patients and health care workers are paying the price.

The new research report from the University of Regina’s Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU), “The Current State of Health Care in Saskatchewan,” highlighted concerning statistics on the state of rural health care:

  • The number of vacant health care positions has doubled since 2019.
  • That between 2019 and 2023, there were 952 service disruptions for a total of 6,795 days.
  • The Saskatchewan Health Authority’s reliance on casual and part-time rather than full-time positions is worsening short-staffing issues in rural areas.

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Sask. Party candidate or Saskatchewan Rivers Board Chair? You shouldn’t be both.

A message to stakeholders released by Darlene Rowden, Sask. Party candidate and Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division Board Chair, was inappropriate and created more questions than answers this week.

In her letter, Rowden, who is the Sask. Party candidate for the Batoche constituency in the next general election, suggests that including classroom size and complexity in a collective agreement poses a threat to local board governance and would result in a “fundamental shift away from public education and inclusive schooling in Saskatchewan.”

She adds that having class size and complexity in collective agreements would somehow prevent parents from sending their kids to school as planned and could force children to go to schools other than their choosing because of “cap and quota” systems. Rowden never provides any evidence this would be the case or acknowledges that there have been no discussions around caps or quotas as part of teachers’ bargaining in Saskatchewan.

“Who exactly is Darlene Rowden speaking on behalf of? It is very clear that the partisan board chair of the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division does not have the best interests of students, parents, and workers at heart,” said Kent Peterson, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Specifically, her remarks about getting classroom size and complexity under control were partisan, inflammatory, and false.

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Wear pink on April 10: Stop all forms of bullying, homophobia and transphobia

The Day of Pink reaffirms our commitment and solidarity to stop all forms of bullying, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and transmisogyny. As workers on the front lines, CUPE members know first-hand the toll that rising anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate is taking. Too many have been targeted in their workplaces and in the community, face exclusion and violence, and added barriers to decent work, health care and housing.

This year’s theme for the Day of Pink is visibility, which encompasses being seen, acknowledged, respected, and heard. We wear pink in solidarity to resist homophobic and transphobic harassment, while fighting every day to protect public services that 2SLGBTQI+ people work in and rely on. CUPE will never stop working to improve the lives of Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex workers.

Throughout the world, including in Saskatchewan and Canada, there has been an increase in the introduction of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ laws and policies as well as hate-based attacks. It is an important time to make it clear bullying and hate have no place in our classrooms, workplaces, and communities. We won’t let right-wing governments risk trans people’s safety and make CUPE workplaces unsafe. Together, let’s stand up for all workers. As trade unionists, we know an injury to one is an injury to all.

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CUPE 5430 hosts Weyburn bargaining information rally to highlight impact of cost-of-living crisis on health care workers and the need for a fair deal

Today, CUPE 5430 President Bashir Jalloh and executive members joined health care workers, the public, and allies at a bargaining information rally at the Weyburn General Hospital to raise awareness about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on health care workers. This is the second in a series of information rallies across the province to pressure the provincial government to provide a fair deal at the bargaining table.

“We had hoped the provincial budget would have recognized the crisis on the front lines of health care, but unfortunately, we didn’t see any meaningful plans to address retention of existing health care staff,” said Jalloh. “That’s why we will continue to hold these information rallies across the province – so the government knows that they are at risk of losing more health workers if they don’t bring forward a deal that improves wages and working conditions to the bargaining table.”

CUPE 5430’s recent cost-of-living survey shows that a full 86% of survey respondents said they cut back their grocery budget to make ends meet; 84% cut back on leisure activities/hobbies; 77% delayed a major purchase; and 73% cancelled or scaled back vacation plans.

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CUPE: Scott Moe is a threat to LGBTQ workers in Saskatchewan

“Scott Moe is a dangerous threat to your worker rights, human rights, and economic security.”

Kent Peterson was recently elected president of the largest union in Saskatchewan. He is the first openly gay president of CUPE Saskatchewan and one of very few queer labour leaders in the province.

“The 31,000 members I represent know I will fight like hell for all workers, but visibility matters,” said Peterson, “I hope my election as president will make it just a little bit easier for a future queer worker to see themselves in leadership roles in their union. But we cannot be naïve – there are serious challenges that LGBTQ workers and their loved ones face in our province.”

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Water is Life: End water injustice, keep water public

March 22 is World Water Day – a day to highlight the vital importance of water for human life and ecological health and, as such, the need to protect water resources from pollution, privatization, and commercialization. The United Nations General Assembly recognized water and sanitation as fundamental human rights in 2010. These human rights to safe, reliable water and wastewater are being denied to many Indigenous communities in Canada. Water services and resources are also under growing pressure to privatize.

CUPE’s Water is life campaign raises awareness about the ongoing struggles of Indigenous peoples, and shows how CUPE members can listen, learn, and act. Colonization continues to have devastating effects on Indigenous communities. Access to water and sanitation are human rights according to international law, yet many Indigenous communities in Canada have water that’s unsafe to drink or wash with. Some communities have lived with unsafe water for decades. Other First Nations don’t have any functioning water system at all.

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Putting CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy into Action

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we recognize the contributions of our Black, Indigenous, and racialized members, who break down barriers every day. You too can help put CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy into action.

CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy identifies actions to challenge systemic racism in our workplaces, union, and communities. It acknowledges that our union and locals must work towards meaningful and attainable change for Black, Indigenous and racialized members, including those with intersecting identities.

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CUPE: Another provincial budget that fails workers

If Scott Moe won’t do his job, it’s time for him to find a new one

Today’s provincial budget failed to invest in fixing Saskatchewan public services, the health care crisis or our broken education system. After over a decade of privatization and cuts to public services, Scott Moe has shown Saskatchewan people he does not care about workers and is not fit for the top job.

“Budgets are about choices, and Scott Moe has again shown us that he does not value Saskatchewan’s public services and the working people that deliver them,” said Kent Peterson, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Year after year he makes budget promises to Saskatchewan people he has no intention to keep. It’s crystal clear, Scott Moe can’t be trusted.”

Today’s provincial budget failed to make concrete investments to address class size and complexity or add capacity to Saskatchewan’s overwhelmed long-term care system. The promised health care investments are meaningless without a plan to increase staffing levels and retain the health care workers in the existing workforce. The provincial budget also failed to invest in public services that have suffered from years of cuts and privatization.

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CUPE demands a budget that works for working people

This week, Scott Moe’s Sask. Party government will unveil their last provincial
budget before the general election and CUPE is calling for a budget that is focused on
Saskatchewan workers.

“This budget needs a plan to create good jobs, bigger paycheques, to protect public
services, fix the health care crisis and clean up the mess in education,” said Kent
Peterson, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Failing to do so sends a clear message –
Scott Moe doesn’t care about workers and needs to be fired.”

The 31,000 members of CUPE Saskatchewan who deliver public services in the health
care, education, and municipal sectors often bear the consequences of Scott Moe’s cuts and privatization. Years of underfunding education, mismanaging our health care
system and cost-downloading to other levels of government have worsened working
conditions for CUPE members and weakened public services Saskatchewan people
rely on.

“Our members are the backbone of our province and deserve a budget that invests in
them and the public services they deliver, added Peterson. “Workers are ready to
mobilize for change in the upcoming school board, municipal, and provincial elections.
They are done settling for less.”

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