Membership Update – January 2010

For a PDF version of this Update, click on the following link: January 2010 Member Update.

Happy New Year to all – I hope that you all enjoyed a restful and relaxing festive holiday.

This is the first of regular updates to the units and members of SEIU-West.

Regular membership meetings are difficult, if not impossible, to hold now that we are a province-wide local. However, at the Unit Chair meeting last fall, a request was made asking us to provide regular updates to the Unit Chairs as a proposed improvement in how we all work together and communicate within our union.

The first thing I want to do is congratulate members & staff who have settled collective agreements this past year:

– Potters Industry (Moose Jaw);

– Metis Addiction Council of Sask (MACSI) (P.A./Regina/Saskatoon);

– Chinook School Division (Swift Current area);

– Town of Shaunavon;

– Moose Jaw & District EMS;

– Canadian Blood Services (provincial);

– Bridges Personal Care Home (Swift Current);

– Moose Jaw Bentley;

– Elmwood Manor & Elmwood Group Homes (Saskatoon);

– Crisis Nursery (Saskatoon);

– Angus Campbell (Moose Jaw);

– Gardiner Park Childcare Inc (Regina)

The hard work of the staff and the bargaining committees at these negotiations has helped

members retain their voices in their workplaces and make improvements in their working

conditions. This didn’t come easy or without a battle – everyone involved made a commitment

of time and hard work to get the deal done. THANK YOU!

Outstanding tables are:

– all regional health authorities (covered by SAHO/SEIU agreement);

– Extendicare (Parkside, Elmview, Sunset, Preston, Moose Jaw);

– South East Cornerstone School Division (Estevan/Weyburn);

– Birch Manor (Middle Lake);

– Primrose Chateau (Saskatoon);

These tables are in various stages of mediation/ conciliation/negotiations. In some cases, such as with Extendicare, the delay to begin negotiations is due to the wait for the SAHO table to finish with provincial negotiations. We will need the support and solidarity of ALL members, regardless of sector, to help members reach a collective agreement in our various units.

(NOTE: If we have missed your bargaining sessions, please get in touch and let me know – we’ll make the correction in the next update!)

With the merger of 3 Locals (former L.299, L.333, L.336) into one Local (SEIU-West), we have recreated our committees to reflect that “provincial focus”. The following are the core committees for SEIU-West:

– Worker Safety (Occupational Health & Safety Focus);

– Education (Steward Training/Career Fairs/ Member Resources);

– Political Action & Awareness; and

– Member-Organizing

We will also be starting up three new committees over the next year:

– Youth (29 years of age and under);

– Retirement (retired – regardless of age); and

– Nursing Committee

There are also 3 committees focused on operational issues. These are:

– Transition (moving us from 3 Local operations to 1 Local operation);

– Constitution (new constitution for the Local); and

– Policy

We have heard some of you ask: ‘what has the Local done for me lately?!’ Well, I’m pleased to outline a number of initiatives and activities that have occurred or been undertaken in the last several months (and this is not a complete list):

– Members attended the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour convention, the OHS conference, the Spring School and various other SFL events;

– Members attended the provincial NDP Convention & SEIU-West hosted a Leadership Forum for those candidates seeking to be the leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party;

– SEIU-West leadership participated at the National and International levels of SEIU and within the global labour movement;

– SEIU-West formed a partnership with Canadian Blood Services for an SEIU Blood Donor Campaign;

– We laid wreaths at Remembrance Day services across the Province;

– SEIU-West donated to food banks, Station 20 West and supported locked out and striking workers throughout the province by joining their picket lines and/or making donations to their strike funds;

– SEIU-West organized and participated in 4 rallies in support of healthcare, as well as a march on the Legislature in Regina on October 26;

– We encouraged and assisted members who have phoned, emailed and visited Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) across the province;

– SEIU-West marketing initiatives included radio advertisements and various print publications such as the Prairie Dog, Planet S, Briarpatch magazine, Moose Jaw Times-Herald, South West Booster, the Leader-Post, the Star Phoenix and most of the weekly newspapers across the province — resulting in an increased awareness of our issues across the province;

– We launched 2 very successful provincial billboard campaigns focusing on our membership, both generally and in healthcare;

– SEIU-West hired an Organizing Director, as part of our commitment to growing this union, to help us build the power of the union by giving a voice and rights in the workplace to those who don’t have a union – yet!

– We have lobbied the Premier, various Ministers, the Deputy Minister and all levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal on a wide range of topics that impact SEIU-West members;

– SEIU-West issued news releases and participated in media interviews on numerous topics in order to get our message out to the public and our members as much as possible;

– We participated in the Community-Based Organizations conference;

– In the past year, 4 SEIU-West Scholarships of $750 each were awarded;

– SEIU-West has revamped the Shop Steward training manual and since this time, we have held 4 new shop steward training schools;

– We launched a new website (www.seiuwest.ca) that contains more information for members; and

– SEIU-West hosted our first-ever province-wide Unit Chair meeting to share information and get input from our Chairs.

– We have filed a Notice of Motion for a judicial review of the Public Services Essential Services Act and the negative impact it has on our membership throughout the province.

The SEIU-West Executive Board meets twelve times a year with a two-day meeting in December. We meet in Moose Jaw, Swift Current and Saskatoon.

The three Top Officers (myself, Shelly Banks – Vice-President, and Janice Platzke – Secretary-Treasurer) have attended as many unit meetings as possible throughout the year.

We have also developed 4 departments in order to provide comprehensive representation for you, the member:

  • Administration – Director Carolyn Rebeyka;
  • Political Action/Education – Director Shawna Colpitts;
  • Collective Bargaining/Contract Enforcement – Director Bob Laurie; and
  • Organizing: Director John Benoit

Some of the things we are working on that you’ll see rolling out over the next year include:

· Member Resource Center: a call-in center where members can get quick advice and direction on issues in the workplace, grievances, etc.;

· Changes in the role of Staff Reps and Unit Chairs to enhance the working relationships that have already been developed;

· New Website improvements – work will continue on the website in the coming months so it contains more information useful to our members, including a page to be created/dedicated to each of our units;

· Shop Steward Training – additional sessions will be held in the coming months; and

· Unit Executive Training – plans are underway for training specific to Unit Executive Members.

SEIU-West has been through a lot of changes as we move forward after our merger, and this includes changes within our staff. I hope you’ll join me in saying farewell to the following staff who have retired or moved on to other opportunities, or will be doing so in the coming weeks.

They have been with us for many years and have formed friendships with so many members – they’ll always be a part of OUR family:

· Leta Atkinson (Union Rep, Saskatoon Office)

· Ann Jenkins (Union Rep, Saskatoon Office)

· Carol Joa (Office Co-ordinator, Saskatoon Office)

· Sean McElligott (Union Rep, Saskatoon Office)

· Muriel Morhart (Union Rep, Moose Jaw Office)

· Tanya Wellman (Union Rep, Saskatoon Office)

As members of SEIU-West, we have been fighting some good fights this past year – bad bosses, terrible labour legislation and a government that really doesn’t like unions. YOU have all been at the front of that battle and have recognized that the “Essential Services” Act is about nothing more than trying to break the union and taking away any right to strike. The work isn’t over; we must keep up the fight against this law – collective bargaining is a human right and, I believe, so is the right to strike.

We continue to make improvements that we hope will help all of our members throughout Saskatchewan. These changes will include adjusting staff workloads as they transition into new roles within the union. Please bear with us as we make these changes – staffing responsibilities may change; we are still building the new local. We will do a better job at keeping all the units up to date.

I look forward to providing regular updates to you in the coming months.

Solidarity Forever, for the Union makes us strong –

Barbara Cape
President SEIU-West

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