Greetings fellow CUPE 1975 members,
I hope you were all able to enjoy some much-needed time away during the holiday season and had the opportunity to de-stress and do a reset if needed. Once again, the University had to make the decision to suspend some in-person classes with the risk of the Omicron variant of COVID. The University has announced that classes will be resuming, in person, the second week of February.
Our Negotiating team will be going back into negotiations in the middle of February, and we are hopeful we will have many of the language articles decided on and start to focus on the things that have a monetary aspect to them. It was shared with me, by Will Bauer, our National Servicing Rep, that we were involved in 35 days of negotiating and/or caucusing this past year. We will also be entering in contract negotiations with two of our sub-locals in the coming months, The USSU and The Prairie Swine Centre.
Our elections took place in November of 2021, and we have some new faces on our Executive. As part of having new members join our Executive, we do a training session for our entire Executive where we discuss the roles and responsibilities that each of us have on the CUPE 1975 Executive. I’d like to share some of the things that we do with you.
We are often a sounding board for our members. Most of the calls or emails I receive involved a degree of venting. I find in the last 2 years of COVID, that many people, whether it’s our members or people in general, aren’t coping well with the pandemic. I believe that, prior to COVID, many people, including our members, were coping with the stresses in their lives. They might have been doing it with the help of counselling, or possibly with a support system of family and friends. I believe COVID has tipped the scales to the point where many people are no longer coping with the additional stresses that COVID has bought on. The University has several different resources available, free of charge, to its employee’s but the challenge continues to be to encourage people to access them. I find that our Executive and other union executives are tasked with trying to encourage people, who we see may be struggling, to reach out and engage with EFAP. These can be sensitive conversations for our Executive to have with our members and they are not always well received.
We are often enlisted as a mediator in our roles. The University campus is a large place with many employees and students on it. As you might expect, some relationships can struggle. I have seen just about every combination of this happening. Member against member, member against management, member against faculty. These can be over a difference of opinion, a refusal to take direction, a lack of courtesy and/or respect in the workplace, amongst other things. These can be difficult meetings to attend. There can’t be a resolve without the involvement and desire of the people involved to try and repair the relationship. Quite often, by the time we become involved, the players aren’t speaking to one another and neither is taking any responsibility for their actions or comments. Our role in those meetings, along with Human Resources, is often to try and gain some understanding of where the differences are. I find in most cases, that there is some level of misunderstanding involved and quite often because the parties aren’t talking that there are several assumptions made about each other. There are different ways to approach these issues, with the most common being having group conversations with Human Resources and the Union.
I receive calls every day regarding questions about employment. The answers are usually found in our Collective Agreement or in the Saskatchewan Employment Act. Sometimes the language can be more difficult to find, and members find it easier to call our office or approach one of our area reps. I would ask that you be patient when you ask the questions. I still have questions directed my way where I need to search for the answer. Many of our newer reps haven’t had to deal with as many of the issues I or some of the other Table Officers have. I would sooner hear from someone “can I check into that and get back to you” rather than have the wrong information given out. One of the big challenges we face is the amount of misinformation that is communicated by some of our members. I encourage you to go to “the source”, your union rep.
All our Executive are required under our Bylaws to sit on some committees. We have set our committees for 2022, and they will be updated on our website shortly. Many of our longer serving Executive have remained on the same committees with the newer Executive members taking the place of those who have stepped down. The Grievance Committee continues to be one of our most important committees and one of our busiest. We have a couple of new Executive members who have joined which will help us going forward with any transition in the future. Part of what we do, is train and educate new people to assume some of these roles when other people transition out.
Member engagement continues to be an issue with all unions in Canada. Once campus returns to a more normal routine in the coming months, we will be hosting some more “You Talk, We Listen.” All our Executive looks forward to meeting you, the members, and hearing your issues and concerns. And once again, the coffee will be on us.
In closing, I would like to share a quote from Robin Williams, I recently came across: “EVERYONE YOU MEET IS FIGHTING A BATTLE YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. BE KIND. ALWAYS.”
President, CUPE 1975