Season’s greetings and a brighter New Year for justice

Thank you to all 31,000 CUPE members on the frontline delivering public services across Saskatchewan that provide care, enrich people’s lives, and strengthen our communities. To the many CUPE members on the frontline caring for us and keeping our public services going through the holidays – Thank You! On behalf of the Executive Board and staff of CUPE Saskatchewan, we wish everyone a safe holiday season and a happy, healthy new year.

As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect on a year of action for pay justice and sounding the alarm on the Sask. Party government’s deliberate underfunding and privatization of public services that are negatively impacting students, patients, communities, and the dedicated workers on the frontline of our public services.

Members of CUPE Local 882, the inside city workers of Prince Albert, showed their courage and resolve to fight for pay justice with the strike concluding on December 11, after 85 days on strike. When workers stand united in solidarity for justice and stronger public services, we can make the next year brighter. We extend our solidarity to all workers striking and braving lockouts in their courageous efforts to secure more justice and fairness. Their courage and resolve makes progress for all workers.

This is a critical moment for public service workers across the province to make progress, secure real wage increases, and demand fair funding for public services.

CUPE members are on the frontline of our public services, and we must take more action to defend them at the bargaining table and in our communities.

Read the full year-end message:

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Webinar: Woman. Life. Freedom. Defending women’s freedom in Iran & Canada

Hosted by the CUPE SK Global Justice & Women’s Committees, join this webinar on January 9, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. with featured special guests to hear more about the Iranian peoples’ mass uprising for women’s equality and human rights — and what we can do to show solidarity with this struggle. 

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Workers unite for a fair deal: North East School Division staff vote overwhelmingly in favour of job action

In an unprecedented show of solidarity, members of CUPE 4875 have voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action, with a 91 percent majority and voter turnout exceeding 70 percent.

“The resounding mandate from the workforce sends an unequivocal message to the employer: the time for fair treatment and equitable conditions has come,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Workers at North East School Division deserve to make as much as workers in neighbouring school divisions and earn wages that keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living.”

As negotiations continue, CUPE 4875 remains committed to their fight for a fair deal, fair wages, improved working conditions, and the recognition of the essential role their members play in the success of the school division.

“We are united, and we are ready to fight for a fair deal. The overwhelming support for job action shows our collective strength and determination in these negotiations. We call on the employer to get back to meaningful negotiations, address our concerns and prioritize the well-being of these workers that keep our school division running, said Debbie Dufault, president of CUPE 4875.

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CUPE Saskatchewan’s municipal workers launch campaign to highlight the important work of municipal employees

CUPE Saskatchewan’s Municipal Employees’ Committee is launching a province-wide digital media campaign to remind people of the important work CUPE municipal employees do in cities, towns, and villages across Saskatchewan.

“We launched this campaign to shine a light on the vital, and sometimes invisible work CUPE members do to keep our communities running,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “From clearing snow to responding to emergencies, CUPE’s municipal workers go above and beyond to care for their communities.”

CUPE Saskatchewan’s MESC launched their latest digital video in the lead up to Christmas, a time when many municipal employees continue to provide vital services to keep households and families safe over the holidays.

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City of Prince Albert refusing to sign return to work agreement

Tensions remain high on the picket line due to the City of Prince Albert delaying the ratification of the tentative agreement, and their reluctance to sign a return-to-work agreement that would pave the way for more harmonious relations moving forward.

“We had hoped that City Council would have called an emergency meeting to get our members back to work as soon as possible, but this did not happen. Mayor Greg Dionne could have called for an emergency meeting of council with 48 hours notice instead of waiting for the regularly scheduled council meeting,” said Cara Stelmaschuk, Vice President of CUPE 882. “Our membership voted in favour of this agreement over a week ago, but all we are seeing is more delays and threats from city leadership.”

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 75

On December 10, Human Rights Day, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The landmark document enshrines the inherent dignity and rights of all human beings. The UDHR has served as the foundation for an expanding system of human rights protections, inspired many struggles for stronger human rights protections, and calls upon everybody to stand up for human rights. We all have a vital role in protecting and advancing human rights through activism. Solidarity for human rights: Freedom, Equality and Justice for All.

CUPE Saskatchewan reaffirms its commitment to stand in international solidarity with fellow workers and their unions for global justice that protects and advances human rights – including the fundamental right to join a union without fear and to collectively bargain, to bring an end to systemic and deep-rooted inequalities, and to organize and demand better for a more just economy against the growing crisis of affordability and poverty. We need an economy that invests in human rights, works for everyone, and assures human dignity and equal access to public services including affordable housing.

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End Gender-Based Violence at Work Now

December 6 is the 34th anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal where 14 women were singled out and murdered because of their gender. Among the 14 women who lost their lives in the tragedy was Maryse Laganière, a CUPE member who worked at the school. On the National Day of Remembrance and Action to End Violence Against Women, we honour and remember all those who have lost their lives because of gender-based violence and recommit to taking concrete action to end all forms of gender-based violence. Wear a white ribbon on December 6 as a symbol condemning violence against women and gender-based violence, observe a moment of silence, and attend a vigil in your community.

In Regina on Wednesday, December 6, 2023: Join the vigil beginning at 5:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Cathedral, located downtown at 1861 McIntyre Street. 

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Win for workers: CUPE 882 votes in favour of tentative agreement

CUPE 882 members representing the inside workers at the City of Prince Albert have voted 81% in favour of accepting the tentative agreement. The union will remain on strike until the city ratifies the agreement, and a return to work agreement has been negotiated.

Mira Lewis, CUPE National Representative said: “Despite the city’s mind games, we were able to reach a deal with real improvements for our members. These gains clearly show what we said in the beginning: if you sit down and talk with the union you can reach an agreement that works for both sides.”

Some highlights of the tentative agreement include:

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CUPE: Breast cancer diagnostic initiative is too little, too late

After over a decade of sounding the alarm on short-staffing, unfilled vacancies and the critical shortage of staff working in diagnostic care, CUPE condemns the inadequacy of the provincial government’s breast cancer diagnostic initiative.

“Shipping patients out of province does nothing to build provincial capacity. It will do little to provide solutions to the hundreds of other patients waiting for testing in every corner of this province,” said Bashir Jalloh, president of CUPE 5430 and a nuclear medicine technologist. “Health sector leaders have been calling on this government to address this crisis for years. Instead, they sat on their hands and have cooked up another out-of-province band-aid solution that will not go far enough to address the issue or help all those in need.”

Saskatchewan has the lowest wages in western Canada for medical technologists, compared to their counterparts in Alberta and Manitoba who make at least six dollars more an hour.

“We are not going to be able to recruit and retain staff without addressing workload and compensation,” added Jalloh. “This government’s only solution to health care waitlists is to send patients to private, for-profit companies that aren’t even based in Saskatchewan. It is unacceptable.”

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Critical shortage of Radiological Technologists risks patient care

In light of ongoing short-staffing, unfilled vacancies and upcoming leaves among medical radiation technologists and nuclear medicine technologists, CUPE is calling for an immediate intervention from the Minister of Health to ensure staffing can be secured to avoid disruptions to diagnostic care.

“For over a decade, we have been sounding the alarm on behalf of our members that provide a vital service in the continuum of care,” said Bashir Jalloh, president of CUPE 5430 and a nuclear medicine technologist. “The government sat on their hands instead of addressing the issue. Now, as waitlists grow, we are at risk of more disruptions of services and communities on bypass for critical care at a time when wait lists are as long as ever.”

Health care providers are especially concerned about the situation at the Pasqua Hospital, where the combination of ongoing vacancies and two upcoming parental leaves will leave the facility with just two of six full time MRT positions filled.

“It is worrying that we are so short staffed at one of our major trauma centers that we may be going on bypass,” added Jalloh. “It is also concerning that we are so close to the opening of the new Urgent Care Centre, but there is a lack of staff in existing positions already.”

There are currently 1,544 Saskatchewan residents on the wait list who have waited more than 90 days for a CT scan. Media reports have highlighted the challenges breast cancer survivors are facing getting urgent testing that could help avoid cancer recurrence or fatal outcomes.

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