CUPE’s National Safe Union Spaces Working Group

Brothers, sisters, and friends,

Please see below for an important message from CUPE’s National Safe Union Spaces Working Group.
In solidarity, MARK HANCOCK, National President
CHARLES FLEURY, National Secretary-Treasurer

Brothers, sisters, and friends,

Earlier this year, CUPE created a National Safe Union Spaces Working Group to address serious concerns about gender-based violence and other forms of harassment and discrimination in our union.

Participate in their survey to help make our union safer

Our Working Group, advised by expert external consultants, has been reviewing CUPE’s existing tools and processes, identifying gaps where we need changes or additional resources to ensure safer union spaces for all members. As part of this important effort, we are launching a survey. The survey will be open for two weeks (closing September 28).

We encourage you to participate in this survey, and to share it widely in your CUPE networks, including social media. Your active participation in the distribution of this survey will be key to the project’s success.

We acknowledge that these issues are widespread. All of us must work together to change this situation. We need you to help us identify actions we can take and policies we can adopt to make CUPE more welcoming for every member. Violence, harassment, and discrimination seriously undermine union solidarity. Until all of us are safe, none of us are safe.

Participate in the survey now

In solidarity, The National Safe Union Spaces Working Group
Judy Henley
Sherry Hillier
Lee-Anne Kalen
Yolanda McClean
Nan McFadgen
Debra Merrier
Barb Nederpel
Carole Neill
Karen Ranalletta
Candace Rennick



COVID-19 has been with us for more than 18 months now, and CUPE members across the country have been on the frontline of this pandemic from the beginning.

The pandemic has been exhausting for our members, but there is an end in sight – if enough people get vaccinated. Vaccinations against COVID-19 are safe and effective and readily available, and uptake across the country has been strong. But with new and prevalent variants causing a fourth wave of infection across the country, we need to do better.

CUPE has always encouraged our members to get vaccinated at their earliest opportunity, for the protection of ourselves, our coworkers, and the members of the public accessing the services our member provide. Everyone who can, should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

CUPE welcomes efforts to ensure safer workplaces and increase vaccination rates. This includes increasing vaccine accessibility for workers, accommodating workers who are not yet fully vaccinated, and the small number of those who cannot be.

Governments and employers across the country are discussing vaccine mandates for our workplaces. The following principles should guide CUPE representatives and locals when dealing with workplace vaccine mandates:

  • Everyone who can get vaccinated against COVID-19 should.
  • Governments and employers need to consult with unions before finalizing and implementing vaccine policies. Locals should reach out to employers proactively and make it clear that the union expects to be consulted about any vaccine policy changes.
  • Vaccination programs are most effective when they include strong elements of education and encouragement. Locals should work with employers and public health to provide vaccine education materials or presentations.
  • Vaccines are an important part of ensuring our workplaces are safe for everyone, and CUPE has always placed a priority on our members’ health and safety. Our members have the right to be safe at work, and people have the right to receive public services in a safe environment.
  • Vaccine policies are not a replacement for personal protective equipment, proper ventilation, and thorough cleaning regimes.
  • Unvaccinated workers need to be provided with an opportunity to speak confidentially with a medical professional so they can better understand the benefits of vaccination. Employers should accommodate these appointments.
  • Vaccine policies must accommodate the small number of workers who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons protected under human rights legislation.
  • As a union, we recognize our obligation to those members who are not vaccinated.
  • Measures such as alternate work arrangements, screening, and pro-active testing before entering the workplace can be effective measures.
  • Harassment and shaming of workers who refuse vaccination are never appropriate.


New Vaccine Measures for Fall Term

Greetings fellow CUPE 1975 members, 

I hope many of you were able to take some time away from the workplace this summer and decompress a little as we head into our fall term.  

I am pleased to say that many of our CUPE 1975 brothers and sisters have received their call back notice for the fall term as more buildings open in preparation of more students returning to campus.  Welcome Back! It has been a difficult period for many of our members but especially so for those of you who were off work for the past number of months. 

The two questions I have heard repeatedly the last few days are: 

  1. Is the University of Saskatchewan able to mandate that we become vaccinated for COVID to work or study on campus or to be tested weekly to ensure we aren’t infected with COVID?

Many of the questions I have faced this morning involve what the University of Saskatchewan will require to satisfy the proof that you have been vaccinated.  

First of all, these are decisions that were made independently by the University to ensure the safety of its employees and the students attending classes on campus. As you can imagine there are many people who are happy with this policy and others who are not.  

Although CUPE 1975 wasn’t consulted prior to this, I want to make it clear that we support this.  As a Union, one of the first and most fundamental things we do, and need to do, is advocate for our members safety, whether it involves things such as this current pandemic we are in, or other unsafe work practices.  We are tasked with advocating for a safe workplace for all.  

The challenge for us, and other groups on campus, is whether the University of Saskatchewan had the legal authority to set this policy.  We, along with the other Unions on campus, have sought out a legal opinion to ensure that our members rights have been protected.  As with all legal opinions, they are only opinions until they are tested in court and, possibly, at the Supreme Court of Canada.  It was felt by our legal counsel that the University of Saskatchewan had the right to do so.  We also had some communication with the College of Law in this regard and they felt the same.  

It should be noted that all the Unions on campus supported this policy once it was rolled out.  The Faculty Association and the Sessional Lecturers lobbied over the last number of weeks to get something in place for the fall term.  In talking with ASPA and the other Unions on campus, it became clear that many of the union employees at the University of Saskatchewan have had concerns about COVID and the risk it involves once more people come back to campus. 

I have been in numerous discussions with our CUPE members and people outside the University during this pandemic and have listened to many viewpoints and thoughts around it.  I respect them all. Many people choose not to be vaccinated for anything.  The University is respecting that but if you choose not to, you will be required to be tested more often to ensure you are not a carrier of COVID and endangering other people on campus. 

The data that most of us have available to us, show that approximately 72% of the population have had at least one dose.  The majority of the people who have chosen not to receive the vaccination, fall into the 18 to 30 year old range.  We can speculate why they have chosen to do so but I really don’t care.  The part I care about, and am concerned about, is when this large part of the population returns to campus.  Per capital, all educational institutes will have a higher percentage of a non-vaccinated group of the population and will most certainly see the impact of that with more cases.  Not only will the safety of our CUPE members be impacted but if it gets bad enough, the University may be forced into closing some buildings again and moving more courses online which will result in job losses for our local. 

The University is still working on the details of how this policy will work and what proof will be required for those who have done so. 

I have also seen the effects firsthand of our other union brothers and sisters in health care struggle with dealing with this pandemic.  They have coped with higher-than-normal levels of acute care over the last 18 months, and they need our help to control this virus anyway we can.  Let’s all do our part.  This isn’t over.  We need to be diligent with what we do and continue the practices that have resulted in many of us going through this period as unscathed as possible. 

2. The second most asked question I receive is whether individuals will be able to continue to work from home in the future.

This will be a departmental decision. The University at large was encouraging departments to have staff work from home in the past 18 months to reduce the number of people on campus and help control the spread of COVID. There is currently no language in our Collective Agreement that references individuals working from home.  The University maintains the right to direct the workforce.  If it makes sense to the department, your position may be allowed to continue doing so.  As more students return to campus, the departments may have the need for more employees working on campus.  

In closing, I would like to add that we are truly in unprecedented times.  In the last 18 months, we have seen rapid change throughout the world.  Some of the world’s brightest and most intelligent people, including our own staff working at VIDO, have worked tirelessly to develop vaccines and procedures to protect and safeguard us from this pandemic and others that came before it.  They have done the work.  Our job is much easier.  Get a shot in the arm. 

BJ/hr/cope 342

Message from our President

Greetings fellow CUPE 1975 members,

If you are reading this it means that you have accessed our new website.  I’m very pleased with the way it has turned out and want to thank all of those on the Communication Committee who made it happen. Beth and Amy’s knowledge on the tech side of this has been exceptional.  Lara’s organizational skills and leadership has been extraordinary.  Heather’s ability to co-ordinate all the pieces has been a key part of the process and Sam’s ideas for content has been inspiring.  It is a work in progress, and we felt it was important to roll it out along with the new email addresses for our Executive members who support you.  There may be glitches but the committee is dedicated to solving any and all of the website site issues that we encounter.

I am hearing that more buildings will be opening up on campus in the next few months and with it more of our CUPE brothers and sisters will be returning to work.  In the meetings I have been in, the University is hoping to have more students back for the fall term but are still thinking that we won’t see a full compliment of students on campus until January of 2022.  It has been conveyed to us that different colleges will have different percentages of students back in September.  As the students return to campus, we will see more of our co-workers back at work.  The University, along with other organizations, are cautious about a possible 3rd wave of COVID.  We are learning more each day about different variants of the COVID strain, and I urge all of you to receive your vaccinations and continue the same practices we have had to do over the last year to ensure your safety and the ones you interact with.  It has been shared with us that there will be a requirement upon returning to campus to continue wearing a mask for the foreseeable future.  This will not change with the province’s re-open plans.  This is for your safety and the safety of your loved ones and those on campus.  Please respect this so we don’t have to experience another year like the previous one.

Your Bargaining Committee continues to meet with the University to work on a new Collective Agreement. We have two more sessions planned and then we will break for the summer months.  Most people will take some vacation during the summer months and its difficult, if not impossible, to get everyone at the table during this time.  I feel we have worked through a number of language issues and will be progressing into the monetary items in the fall.  These sessions are held “in camera” and so we are not able to share much information at this stage.

There have been many disturbing findings at residential schools in Canada in the past month.  These are heart wrenching to me.  I suspect we will see more graves discovered in the upcoming weeks, months, and years.  As a father, I cannot imagine someone taking my children away from me and the impact it would have on myself, my spouse, and my children.  At a CUPE convention a few years ago, we heard Justice Murray Sinclair speak about the Truth and Reconciliation Report.  We were shown interviews with some of the survivors of the residential school system.  Their lives were taken away from them.  They never recovered from the trauma they suffered.  Many of them fell into the addiction cycle as they tried to self medicate.  The report generated by the committee has still to this day only accomplished approximately half of the recommendations that they hoped to achieve.  Many of these recommendations have no monetary component attached to them.  It has taken too long for people to acknowledge and support those who went through this.  These schools continue to exist until well into the 1990’s.

One of the initiatives our Executive has committed to doing over the next few years is to align ourselves with the Canadian Mental Health Association (“CMHC”).  I personally have seen the struggle that many of our members and people we know have experienced in the past year.  The stats that were provided to us at a meeting were that, at any one time, 1 in 5 people in Canada will experience some degree of mental illness.  In the past year, with the pressures of this pandemic, that number has risen to more like 3 or 4 out of 5 people.  What has been shared with me from people who have sought our help in the past year is that you will receive approximately 6 sessions with an EAP councillor as part of your benefits package but afterwards you have to seek out a therapist externally.  What I have been told is that there are only about a dozen therapists within Saskatoon and many of them are not taking new patients. 

Our local has contributed to many charitable organizations over the years, however, we have never become dedicated to one organization.  Our intent is not to discontinue supporting the other organizations we have in the past but to direct some resources to the CMHA Saskatoon branch going forward.  Many of the challenges people develop occur in their teens and when they are attending post secondary school.  Our hope is to bring more awareness to the challenges of mental health and show support for those who are experiencing it.  Our Executive does not see the solution to this as being simply to write a cheque to the CMHA.  We feel we need to work with the CMHA to develop more awareness and support for those who are experiencing it.  We have been told that many of the claims that our members are on, STD and LTD, could be the result of a mental health aspect.  The example we were provided with was that you could fall off a ladder and where previously it was considered an accident, now it is questioned whether it occurred because there was something happening in your life that lowered your focus on the task you were trying to accomplish.

In closing, I would like to wish you all a pleasant summer.  Winter in Saskatchewan is long, and summer feels too short.  I don’t think anyone of us has gone unscathed going through this pandemic.  Job loss, financial insecurity, health issues, mental health issues and other factors have made the past year challenging at best and life changing at worst for some.  There hasn’t been enough laughter and time with our friends and families.  Enjoy your summer.  Cross something off on your bucket list.  Be kind to others. Simple acts of kindness can impact others more than we ever know.

Bob Jones

President, CUPE 1975

Room 21, McLean Hall

106 Wiggins Road

Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E6


Welcome to our new website!

CUPE 1975 is pleased to inform you that our local has a new website and new email addresses for our executive officers.

As you’ve already discovered, our union website can still be found at the same URL. However, it has been completely updated to a modern platform and is now much more mobile-friendly. This website is still a work in progress, and we will continue to update it on an iterative basis. We are excited about having a website that is more useful and informative for you!

We also have brand-new email addresses for our office and executive team. Please update your address books and use to contact our general office from now on. This new email is replacing, which will no longer be used going forward. All of our executive board members will now also be using official CUPE 1975 email addresses, rather than their own personal emails. A list of all executive members with their new email addresses can be found on the new About page.

We hope you will spend some time over the next few days exploring our new website and familiarizing yourself with it. To celebrate the launch of the new website, we will be having a contest. Sign up for our mailing list using the form on the new homepage between June 29 and July 6, and we will enter your name into a draw for a Tim Hortons gift card.

Many thanks to the CUPE 1975 Communications Committee for their hard work reimagining our website: Amy St-Jacques, Beth Matheson, Bob Jones, Lara O’Grady, Sam Riendeau and Heather Richinski (CUPE 1975 Administrative Assistant).

For any general questions or comments, please contact If you have any feedback specifically about the new website, please contact

Trevor Christopher – Meet Your Rep

What is your name and your role on the executive?

My name is Trevor Christopher and I’m the current CUPE 1975 rep for Grounds and Herdsmen.  This is my second term in this role. 

Can you give a brief description of your background?

I have been employed by the U of S since 1996 and a member of CUPE since 2010. I have a BSA with a major in Horticulture. I currently work for Facilities in the Grounds department. Lately, I have been maintaining the greenhouse but, in the summer, my main responsibility is the campus irrigation and landscaping. 

Why did you choose to become a union representative on the CUPE 1975 executive?
I became a rep after the position was vacant and Braden convinced me to run. I’ve always had questions about our rights and responsibilities and figured actually being involved in the process would give me a better understanding. Part of learning these processes involves dealing and assisting with members concerns and complaints. 

Can you give some personal details (e.g. hobbies)?
I do a lot of yard work in the summer. Much more this past year. I also have 2 dogs, London and Paris, and too many plants. 

Sam Riendeau – Meet Your Rep

What is your name and your role on the executive?

My name is Sam Riendeau, and I am the Student Representative on the CUPE 1975 Executive. I represent all of the students employed by the University, from the FIT centre employees to the summer student grounds workers.  

Can you give a brief description of your background? 

I am currently employed by the U of S and work on the Aquatics Staff as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. I was elected as the first-ever CUPE 1975 student representative in 2018 and was recently re-elected in 2020.

Why did you choose to become a union representative on the CUPE 1975 executive?

I chose to put my name in for the position of student representative on the CUPE 1975 executive because of my career goals and because I believe that unions are important. I am currently working towards a B.A. in Political Studies here at the U of S and plan to attend law school at the U of S after completing my undergrad. Right now, I would like to work as a lawyer in labour relations and I felt this position could enhance my knowledge on unions and the collective bargaining process.  

Can you give some personal details (e.g. hobbies)?

I enjoy working out at Anytime Fitness and playing hockey in the ASHL with my friends in my spare time.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

My favourite hockey team in the Montreal Canadiens.

Sherri Duggan – Meet Your Rep

What is your name and your role on the executive? 

My name is Sherri Duggan, and I am the Recording Secretary for CUPE 1975.

Can you give a brief description of your background? 

I have been working for the College of Medicine for 20 years now. I am currently in Emergency Medicine with an amazing team of clericals and physicians.

Why did you choose to become a union representative on the CUPE 1975 executive? 

I chose to put my name forward as a rep for two reasons. One was that I didn’t understand what was going on with our negotiations with the university, and I wanted to know more. The second was feeling helpless watching a friend of mine being bullied on the job. I am trying to help make changes, and you cannot do that from the sidelines.

Can you give some personal details (e.g. hobbies)?

I enjoy bowling, running, my friends and my family.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I coach YBC (Youth Bowling).