Thu, 21 Dec 2017
As the holiday season approaches it gives us all an opportunity to thank the people in our life we value and appreciate. I would like to thank our office staff at COPE Local 397 for all their hard work and dedication this past year. We have had many ups and downs and the staff have been there every step of the way. Thank you to the Executive Board and Prairie Council for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the Members of COPE Local 397. I would like to thank our Stewards for all their hard work on providing support and guidance to the Membership and ensuring that the collective agreement is being followed on the work floor. Thank you to the Membership for the support that you have shown for our Union.
As the year draws to an end I would like to reflect on the past year and acknowledge some of the hard work in our Local this past year. We have had many challenges, and with the dedication and hard work of our office staff, elected officers and our members we have all worked well together to make change.
We first heard rumblings of Bill 40 in the fall of 2016. In the spring of 2017 the Saskatchewan Government passed legislation that would allow it to sell up to 49% of the province’s Crown Corporations. Bill 40 creates a legal definition of privatization that allows the partial sale of a Crown Corporation without requiring a vote of support from the people of the province. Up to 49% of each Crown like SGI, SaskTel and SaskPower, could be up for grabs to private shareholders, without technically being privatized. COPE realized the severity of this legislation and the impact that it could have on our members and the people of Saskatchewan. We knew that we needed to educate our members but we also needed to educate the people of Saskatchewan on the value and importance of all our Crown Corporations.
COPE 397 organized and hosted Town Halls and Rallies across the province with Own It and many union leaders, activists and Saskatchewan residents, with the message that the government must stop Bill 40, stop the roll backs, wage cuts, layoffs and privatization as it will certainly adversely affect every individual and family in Saskatchewan.
On May 3, SGI advised that SGI has met with 11 different companies around a possible partnership with SGI. The discussion was a result to the introduction of Bill 40 and through the direction of the current government. Our fight continued.
This past year we were asked numerous times to open our Collective Agreement and to discuss options to address the 3.5% compensation reduction that SGI has been asked to find in order to avoid, or reduce, other actions which may be required to meet the Budget objectives. Each and every time we have been asked we have strongly stated NO! We will not agree to this!
Premier Brad Wall reported on August 30, 2017 that the Saskatchewan Government is reconsidering legislation allowing up to 49% of a Crown Corporation to be sold. He reported that the SaskParty politicians are hearing concerns from the people of Saskatchewan that any change in ownership constitutes privatization. Days later it is announced that only part of Bill 40 will be repealed. Our hard work is paying off but we must not stop now. We need to keep the pressure on until this legislation that was introduced last fall is defeated in its entirety and our Crowns are protected.
COPE 397 completed research on Public vs Private Insurance and did a mass mailout to our membership. Please share this information with your friends and family, show everyone the importance of our Crown Corporations and why we must keep them. This research paper has been beneficial for COPE in preparing for bargaining and information provided to our members and the public at Town Halls and Rallies.
We are working with the SFL Own It campaign, other unions, and the District Labour Councils to continue to educate our province on the importance of Crown Corporations and public services.
We had many discussions with SGI Management regarding the federal government’s changes to the Employment Insurance Benefits programs and were able to come to an agreement on those benefits. We also agreed to changes in the short-term and long-term disability leaves as well as changes in sick leave credits. To read the full article
The SGI Negotiating Team has been meeting and we are prepared to go to the table in the New Year. At this time the team would like to thank everyone that submitted proposals for consideration. Please watch the Website and Facebook for updates when we are at the table.
The RM of Alexander’s collective agreement expires December 31, 2017. We have tentative dates set to bargain beginning February 20, 2018.
U of R Faculty Association is currently at the table and should reach an agreement early in the New Year. A new position in Communications/Research was recently negotiated at URFA.
In our NDP Provincial Office we negotiated a four-year agreement. We also recently signed a Letter of Understanding with the employer negotiating a wage of $15 an hour effective January 1, 2018 for the call center staff and summer students. The Provincial Office hired a Southern Organizer and over the summer had a term Researcher. We also saw eight summer students working in the Provincial Office.
The NDP Caucus Office recently ratified their collective agreement with a two-year agreement. They will expire March 31, 2018.
The NDP Constituency Assistants signed a three-year agreement and will expire March 31, 2018. With the NDP winning two seats in Saskatoon in the bi-elections we gained two new CA positions.
Our Calgary Units have also kept us busy this past year:
- WRC recently signed a one-year tentative agreement which is in the process of ratification
- ATU’s collective agreement expires December 31, 2017
- CDLC also expires December 31, 2017
- CDPT expires December 31, 2018
- IBEW expires December 31, 2018
- UA 496 expires December 31, 2018
We have COPE School taking place in Calgary for our members February 2 and 3, 2018.
Our Executive and Prairie Council are working with the Communications and Political Action Committees on ways to engage the membership and plan to roll out some new initiatives in the New Year.
We are working on building a stronger Steward Network. We held a COPE School and an all Steward Meeting. We have held several Steward conference calls and will continue to hold them regularly. We want a stronger engagement with the Membership; keeping the Stewards up to date on the business of the Local so that they can share this information with our Members.
We are encouraging you all to check the website and Facebook regularly for updates on bargaining and the work of the Local. Please check out our calendar of events for dates and locations of upcoming events. We want to remind everyone to make sure your personal information is updated in the office so that we can ensure that everyone receives our updates when they are provided.
I would like to thank all the volunteers that came out to help with the 17th Annual Unions of Regina Community Dinner. Many less fortunate citizens of Regina were served a traditional Christmas meal. The volunteers are nothing less than absolutely amazing. This makes me so proud to be a Union Member and to have the opportunity to assist with this wonderful yearly event. Thanks to the COPE Local 397 members and all Sisters and Brothers of other Unions who helped make this event a huge success!
We held another successful COPE Party in November. We held a 50/50 draw and the proceeds went to the Z99 Adopt-A-Family. COPE sponsored a family with four children. We were able to purchase gifts for the entire family with a full turkey dinner. Thank you to all that purchased tickets. I am so proud of our Union and the generosity that was shown to help a family going through financial difficulties.
As we move into 2018, we have some challenges ahead of us. I am looking forward to working with you all in the fight to keep our Crowns and to achieve fair collective bargaining.
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, good health, happiness and prosperity throughout the New Year! I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season with friends and family. If you are travelling this festive season travel safe.
Together We Are Stronger!