CUPE Saskatchewan commends Brother Mark Jenkins for safe evacuation of school bus in Prince Albert

Photo credit: Prince Albert Fire Department

CUPE Saskatchewan joins the Prince Albert Fire Department in commending the rapid actions of CUPE member and school bus driver Mark Jenkins, who ensured the safe evacuation of 16 students from their bus before it was engulfed in flames on June 15. Jenkins is a member of CUPE Local 4195 representing education support workers in the Saskatchewan  Rivers Public School Division.

“We salute Brother Jenkins on his dedication to ensuring the safety of these kids,” says CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham. For more information on the incident, see the article published in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post.

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Contracting out bus services in Ile-a la-Crosse wrong choice for students, says CUPE

Ile-a la-Crosse School Division has decided to sell off its fleet of school buses and contract out bus services to a private bus operator.

“The evidence from other school divisions shows that contracting-out is more expensive and is less accountable to the community,” said Tony Head, CUPE servicing representative for Local 4607. “Once the school division sells its buses, it has no control over price increases.”

A study by the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association reviewed bus transportation costs in the province and found that contracted services were about 18% higher than the cost of board-owned buses. Recently, the Chinook School Division in southwest Saskatchewan announced it was purchasing 22 buses from Rilling Bus this June and taking over bus operation in the city of Swift Current.

The local is also concerned about the six members who will be laid off.

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Celebrate National Aboriginal Day

National Aboriginal Day, also known as National Indigenous Peoples Day, on June 21 is an annual opportunity to honour and celebrate the diverse cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

Indigenous peoples will be celebrating in their communities, and graciously sharing their ceremonies, customs, and heritage with others across the country. It is a day we can all stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples striving to protect and strengthen their cultures, languages, and way of life.

There are public events across Saskatchewan to attend, several of which CUPE is helping organize:

  • Weyburn: Join CUPE Local 5430 Region 4 at Jubliee Park (583 13 Street) from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm for cultural activities, Aboriginal dancers, a free barbeque lunch, and displays.
  • Prince Albert: Join CUPE Local 5430 Region 2 and the Prince Albert Indian Metis Friendship Centre for an all-day celebration at Kinsmen Park. This event includes a barbeque, entertainment, tradition ceremonies, and displays.
  • Regina: Join in the celebrations from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Victoria Park in downtown Regina.

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Timing, choice of security review in health care raises serious questions, says CUPE Saskatchewan

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

CUPE Saskatchewan questions the health care security review underway by an external consultant with a history of job cuts and contracting-out of public sector jobs to private firms. 

On April 18th the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) issued a memo announcing a province-wide review of security services, using an external consultant named Tony Weeks. In announcing the review, Saskatchewan Health Authority vice-president Andrew Will told media, “Definitely we’re seeing more events where staff and/or patient safety is jeopardized.”

“There are thousands of front-line health care workers in Saskatchewan who can attest that incidents of violence in health care facilities are on the increase,” says CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham.

Statistics also bear this out. Last August, the former Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region reported that “acts of violence increased from 2015/2016 to 2016/2017 by 254 incidents.”

Death threats have become routine and are experienced not only by security personnel but by nurses, continuing care aides, and other health care workers. “No one should have to endure threats on their life for going to work in health care,” says Graham.

“Everyone can agree with Saskatchewan Health Authority vice-president Andrew Will that increased violence in health facilities is a serious matter. However, safety concerns in some health facilities have been downplayed by management in recent years. This begs the question of why this security review is taking place only now, as part a top-down restructuring process that is driven by cost savings rather than public health,” says Graham.

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Registration is now open for the Back to Batoche Canoe Trip: July 17 – 19, 2018!

Registration is now open for the Back to Batoche Canoe Trip 2018. 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.

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.

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International Workers’ Day 2018

May 1st is International Workers’ Day (May Day). Today we celebrate the achievements of the trade union movement and express solidarity to all workers in the struggle for labour rights and economic justice around the world. Labour rights are human rights!

International solidarity is one of the most powerful tools we have to challenge economic injustice and income inequality, defend public services against privatization, and support the right of all workers to organize into unions and fight for decent jobs, pay, pensions for retirement security, working conditions and dignity.

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Day of Mourning: April 28, 2018

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, 27 Saskatchewan people died as a result of their job last year (2017), not including farm-related fatalities or other workplaces that are not covered or reported by workers’ compensation. Over 7,888 workplace injuries occurred in Saskatchewan workplaces last year and were accepted by Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Board, among the over 28,952 claims reported to WCB.

On the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured, 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 Saturday, April 28, 2018. Click “Continue Reading” for event listings.

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2018 Education budget fails to pass the grade for Saskatchewan kids, say K-12 Support Workers

With $54.2 million cut from K-12 education funding last year, the restoration of $34 million in last week’s budget maintains a $20 million cut to K-12 education, despite increased student enrollment. The operating funding for school divisions remains $10.5 million below 2015/16 levels, despite an increase of almost 9,000 students and 18 new schools opened.

“In addition, the government built 9 joint P3 schools between 2015 and 2017, even though both Alberta and Manitoba have found P3 schools cost far more than the traditional route. The maintenance costs and interest costs for the new P3 schools, meanwhile, is up 39% in this budget, from $9.7 million to $13.5 million. This will be a line item in the budget for the next 30 years and there is no way of knowing how much these costs will increase over that period,” says Jackie Christianson, Chairperson of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers Steering Committee, which represents over 7,000 education support workers across the province.

The provincial budget also eliminated the General Proficiency Award program, erasing rewards for 500 promising students. At the same time, increased funding was allocated to private (Independent and Associate) schools. Since 2012, public funding has increased 90% for Independent schools and 29% for Associate schools. “Budget decisions such as this make you wonder why these schools are getting significant increases while public schools are suffering,” says Christianson.

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