100 Days

March 19, 2021

Greetings fellow CUPE 1975 members,

It has been approximately 100 days since you elected your current Executive and I thought I would fill you in on what they have been doing.  First of all, I`m pleased with your choices and I believe everyone on the Executive has been working hard on your behalf, representing you, advocating for you, and most important, listening to you.

Leanne Ooms continues to do exceptional work for our local in her role as our Grievance Chair. This is often a thankless job and she is often questioned about the length of time it takes to achieve any results.  Leanne has been the main reason that many of our members have been awarded settlements in the thousands of dollar range in the past few months.  Leanne and her Grievance Committee have been able to problem solve a number of grievances without going through the lengthy process of arbitration.  Some of the credit is also due to the work that the different SBA’s from the different colleges have put into this to discover an amicable solution to the issues at hand.  These problem solves don’t happen without both parties coming to the table and showing a willingness to find a solution.  These solutions don’t happen without an effort by both parties to develop a relationship where we can discuss all possible options and agree on a resolve.  The work that both parties put into developing and maintaining those relationships benefits you, the member.

I have been pleased with our new Executive members.  We have developed a policy where we require any new Executive members/reps to attend a Steward Learning Series Educational with CUPE National.  We encourage this to happen within the first year of the election into their role, so they are better equipped to represent you.  This training was conducted in January of this year and Al, Linda and Lara were all able to attend and reported back that they felt the training was beneficial to them and that they learned a lot.

We have also requested for the last couple of years for more grievance training for out entire Executive.  We were able to secure 4 days of training with the CUPE National Educational Committee for this year and have received two days of training, so far, with another two days to happen in the next few weeks.  It was felt that it was important for our entire Executive to understand the grievance process and also to help with succession planning in the future.  I applaud our Executive for taking the time away from their jobs to receive this training.

In January of this year, we also formalized our committees.  Committee work is very important to our local and we have taken it one step further this year by setting some goals for the different committees.  Our OH&S  Committee is tasked with identifying all the different Safety Committees on campus and identifying which of our CUPE 1975 members sit on said committees.  We are hoping once we can identify who these members are, we can offer some training to help them understand all the rights our workers have and ensure that they are protected.  There is no hidden agenda here.  In the event that one of our co-workers is injured on the job, we could all be faced with assuming some of the responsibility.  Unions were formed many years ago over unsafe and challenging working conditions.  Things have improved substantially over the years, however, there are still workers who are killed or seriously injured on the job each year.

Our Communication Committee is also setting some goals for the near future.  Beth Matheson, Amy St. Jacques and Heather Richinski are working on a new web page design for our local.  They are hoping to transition into it sometime in the next 6 weeks.  Along with this work, the committee is hoping to once again publish a Skopein newsletter.  Sam Riendeau and Lara O`Grady are working on the content and the things that they feel might interest our members. They have come up with some exceptional ideas and I look forward to seeing the results.

We have also gone through the annual review of our books to make sure everything is in order. Jeff Theis is our longest serving member on the Executive and, with his degree in Advanced Economics, he does a fantastic job managing the locals’ finances.  Shelly Armbuster, Mimma Messina and Jamie Provo were tasked with the job of reviewing the books as our Trustees and once again, it was found that out books are in order.  Many thanks’ ladies for doing that and to Jeff for making one of the challenges of operating this local not a financial one.

I would also like to thank Shelly for agreeing to be the Returning Officer in our recent elections. In the November election we did electronic balloting.  Heather and Shelly were tasked with  making it work.  It was also used in the following election for the 1st VP position and then again for our internal election to replace Natalie Laing for the next few months as 2nd VP.

Natalie was given the opportunity, once again, to work for CUPE National beginning the middle of February until November 1st.  This is the third time Natalie has been afforded this opportunity in the last 2 years and we wish her all the best in her goal to become a National Servicing Rep.  In the interim, as in the past two times Natalie has pursued this dream, we backfilled her position as a Table Officer from within our Executive as per CUPE Nationals recommendation.  The first time Donna Smandych stepped up as the Recording Secretary, the second time Sherri Duggan assumed the role as Recording Secretary and this time Erwin Marbella was the successful candidate as the interim 2nd VP, winning in an election over Cindy Toy and Dylan Powell.  Thanks to all of these people for putting their names forward to fill this important role within our local.

Our Bargaining Committee continues to work on our bargaining proposal for our upcoming round of negotiations.  We had 26 different proposals from our members and some of them involved a few different requests within the proposal.  We have reviewed all of them and went through our Collective Agreement extensively to identify areas in the language which we felt that needed to be improved upon.  We do this in conjunction with out National Servicing Rep and we have had some challenges there.  Ann Iwanchuk, our long-time rep, has been off backfilling for Debra Grimardi, the regional director for CUPE National in Saskatchewan.  We were hopeful that Ann would be back at the end of January but Debra`s leave kept getting extended.  We were assigned a temporary rep, Don Moran, in December and another one in January – Marcia Ray, and finally another one in March – Will Bauer.  We have been going over the proposals with Will the past two weeks and we feel very comfortable with him.  Our first bargaining date is at the end of March where we will exchange proposals with our employer and go over the ground rules for our sessions and then begin bargaining in April.  We have a number of dates set aside in the upcoming months as we work towards getting a new contract.  Our Bargaining Committee, as elected by our CUPE 1975 Executive is, Bob Jones, Ryan Klassen, Erwin Marbella, Jeff Theis and Sherri Duggan.

I also would like to acknowledge and thank Heather for the work she has done as our CUPE 1975 administrative person. She recently passed her one-year anniversary in this role and this would have been difficult to step in to this role without the challenges of COVID.  I think she has done an admirable job under some very difficult conditions.

In closing, I’d like to thank all of our Executive for the work they have volunteered for and accomplished so far.  Our new Executive members have all brought some more energy and enthusiasm to our team.  Our other Executive members have amazed me continually with their commitment to our members and the ability for them to step up when needed.  Alan Bohle remarked to me shortly after he assumed his role as a rep that he didn’t realize the scope of the things that we did as an Executive.  Without becoming a member of the Executive, how would you?

Sherri and Ryan filled in for me when I was away for a week and it makes it easy to take some time off when you have the confidence in others to fill in for you.  These are not easy jobs. We are often tasked with providing the unpopular answer.  We all put in countless hours listening, advocating, and representing members.  Much of our work is done behind the scenes. Many of the conversations we have on your behalf are done without your knowledge.  The relationships we culture and maintain benefit you, the member.  I could not do the work I do without the support and help from all of our Executive.  I want to thank them all for it, I think you should do so also.

Bob Jones
President, CUPE 1975
Room 21, McLean Hall
106 Wiggins Road
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E6

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