Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili brought a packed room of CUPE members to their feet in Saskatoon on Friday morning, after a speech vowing to fight the Sask Party’s attacks on workers’ rights and public services.
Meili said an NDP government would put people first and focus on strengthening public services, innovating for a green economy, and working alongside First Nations and Metis people to close gaps in health and education.
“Putting people first is what our democracy is about. That’s what CUPE is about, and that’s what New Democrats are all about too,” said Meili. “We’re here to send a message loud and clear to the people of this province; New Democrats are in this for you.”
Public-private partnerships (or P3s) don’t just cost the taxpayer more – they make delivery of public services more complicated, inefficient, and dangerous, according to Simon Enoch at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Enoch presented a glimpse of his findings, in a forthcoming titled “The Untold Truths of P3s in Saskatchewan”, to delegates at this week’s CUPE Saskatchewan division convention in Saskatoon. Enoch noted that the Sask Party government has shown a preference for the design-build-finance-maintain (DBFM) style of P3s. “It’s usually the F in there that gets the most attentions, because it means much higher financing costs for the public,” said Enoch. “But we should be paying more attention to the M, because these contracts last up to thirty years, and that has its own costs.”
Participants at CUPE Saskatchewan’s women’s forum, Changing Lanes: Women in Motion, heard from two CUPE members who have made the leap into elected politics. The forum was held during CUPE Saskatchewan’s annual convention being held in Saskatoon from March 4 to 6, 2020.
Judy Henley, a health care worker and member of CUPE Local 5430 from Melville, Saskatchewan, has been elected as the new president of CUPE Saskatchewan.
Henley has been active in CUPE since 1985. In that time, she has served in many leadership roles within CUPE at the local, provincial, and national levels. Since 2000, Henley has served as secretary-treasurer of CUPE Saskatchewan. Driven by a passion for the rights of workers to retire with dignity and her conviction that all workers should have access to good benefits and injury compensation, Judy remains an active member of the CUPE Local 5430 Pension and Benefits Committee and subcommittees with the employer.
“I am humbled by the support. I will be working hard to represent our members,” said Henley as she accepted her new role.
“We can make a difference in our workplaces and our world by standing together,” said Tom Graham in his final report to delegates at the annual convention of the Saskatchewan Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees being held in Saskatoon. Graham’s retirement announcement was feted with applause and recognition for his dedicated leadership by delegates and guests.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is sending layoff notices to CUPE members working at Regina Pioneer Village (RPV) and moving residents to private, personal care homes.
RPV has been plagued by mould and asbestos issues for years and has had to close beds twice before due to remediation efforts. Now residents are being moved into two private care homes in the Regina area.
“These layoffs are a direct result of the Sask Party government’s failure to address the crumbling infrastructure in our health care sector,” said Sandra Seitz, president of CUPE Local 5430. “Now patients are being moved into private, for profit care homes. We should all be concerned about the loss of jobs, the costs for residents and the quality of care.”
Work-life balance and burnout continue to be a significant issue for CUPE 600 members across the province. They need your support to bargain a fair deal.
Take action today and email the Minister of Social Services.
-Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan
CUPE Saskatchewan is calling on the provincial NDP to follow the lead of the Federal NDP and other provinces by introducing a ban on replacement workers (otherwise referred to as anti-scab legislation) during a lockout or strike.
“When employers are allowed to replace the jobs of their workers during a labour dispute, it creates an imbalance in the collective bargaining system that gives an unfair advantage to employers by allowing bosses to avoid negotiating,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “The Co-op Refinery dispute is a clear example of an employer that locks-out its own employees and spends more time, money and effort flying in scabs by helicopter to lengthen and escalate the dispute they created then actually getting back to the table to negotiate with their own workers. Why should employers be allowed to replace the very workers they are legally obligated to negotiate with?” questioned Graham.
CUPE Saskatchewan is encouraged the provincial NDP is open to consultations, but more needs to be done to support the ability of workers and their unions to negotiate fairly with deep-pocketed employers by banning scabs.
CUPE members and staff at the union’s Winter School being held in Moose Jaw this week are wearing green squares in solidarity against Islamophobia and to recognize those who continue to suffer the consequences of hateful violence. Today marks the third anniversary when, on January 29, 2017, an Islamophobic white supremacist shot dead six Muslim men as they prayed at a Quebec City mosque. These innocent people were killed because of hateful intolerance. Many more were injured. The terrorist attack affected many families, friends, neighbours, and communities across Canada. In Saskatchewan, January 29 has been proclaimed a Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance.
“We are reminded today that we must speak up for equality and dignity for everyone, and we must not allow people to divide us as workers and communities,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan.
Talks between the Government of Saskatchewan and the union representing social services workers have come to a halt after the Employer walked away from the table.
CUPE Local 600 represents 380 members who work directly for the Community Living Service Delivery (CLSD) branch of the Ministry of Social Services and Ministry of Central Services.
“The Government of Saskatchewan has stated repeatedly that they want Saskatchewan to be the best place to live for persons with disabilities. But the lack of respect for front line workers is shocking,” said Nancy Seman, president of CUPE Local 600. “We are urging the government to take bargaining seriously and work with us to find a solution to address the health and safety issues we are facing.”