REGINA: The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has filed a notice of constitutional question in the cases of three employers who are attempting to unilaterally remove unionized supervisors out of the bargaining unit of their choosing.
The City of Moose Jaw, the Saskatoon Public Library, and Cypress Hills Abilities Centre are some of the first employers in the province to use new provisions under The Saskatchewan Employee Act (SEA) which allow employers to try to remove workers with supervisory duties from the bargaining unit. A fourth employer, the Regina Public Library, has applied to have similar employees removed from the bargaining unit claiming that they are managers.
“Working people have the right to belong to the union of their choosing. CUPE will fight any
employer who moves forward with attempting to exclude supervisory members with every tool in our tool box, including legal avenues,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Filing a notice of constitutional question is the first step in what could be a very lengthy and expensive legal battle.”
CUPE has serious concerns about the constitutionality of this legislation, as well as the impact the legislation is having on workers.
“This legislative change is causing a lot of stress and uncertainty for union members who have supervisory duties. People are worried about their job security. They are worried about what will happen to their benefits and wages if they get removed from their bargaining unit. They are worried about what their future holds,” added Graham.
CUPE believes that removing supervisors from the bargaining unit is completely unnecessary. Many major employers in the province have already signed irrevocable agreements to keep the status quo arrangement, including the Ministry of Health, SAHO, and the Government of Saskatchewan.
“Saskatchewan is now the only jurisdiction in Canada with this type of legislation. And I can see why,” said Graham. “This legislation is a solution in search of a problem. In my 37 years with CUPE, we have never had a problem with supervisors being in the same bargaining unit as the people they supervise that was not solved through application of the collective agreement.
“It is in both the union and the employer’s interests to maintain the integrity of the current
bargaining unit, rather than create a separate bargaining unit within the local for supervisory employees. The status quo has worked and can continue to work.”