For the health plan, after a search for the best value, Great-West Life has been selected as the insurance carrier for extended health care plans effective January 1st, 2016. There will be no changes in benefits we already have in place. Value-added services include proactive cost management strategies for prescription drugs, a larger range of claim reporting tools, and point of service claim submissions for healthcare practitioners such as chiropractors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists.
The new essential services legislation will be in effect for the upcoming round of bargaining for PS/GE. If the parties arrive at an impasse during bargaining, and the essential services agreement prevents enough workers from striking that it is impossible to conduct an effective work stoppage, the dispute may be referred to binding arbitration.
In other news:
Our Housing Authority members have seen some challenges over the past year. With some workplaces seeing turnover and structural challenges in union locals, ongoing budget issues, vacancies, and downsizing resulting in fewer people doing more work, our members are feeling the pinch and are experiencing stress in the workplace.
Some workplaces in the sector are enjoying positive improvements in their working relationships with employers. The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation created a Step 0 in its grievance procedure where at Step 0, the employee and employer meet to discuss issues. This new step is working quite well.
Likewise, the Saskatchewan Arts Board members enjoy a positive working relationship with their employer, and recently established an extended health plan that has better coverage and lower premiums than the old plan. Tourism Saskatchewan completed its bargaining, with only five sessions of negotiation.
The Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency had steward and bargaining committee elections this year. Work on the agency's Job Evaluation process continues.
The South Saskatchewan River Irrigation District is in bargaining, as its current contract expired December 31st 2015.
The Workers' Compensation Board local has been quite active in ensuring its Stewards have had opportunities for leadership development training.
The Health Sector sponsored members to attend many conferences and educational opportunities, sending members to the Prairie School for Union Women, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Spring School, the SFL OH&S Conference, and other educational opportunitues offered throughout the year.
The 2015 Safe Worker Award from WorkSafe Saskatchewan was awarded to Lorna Hamilton. Congratulations, Lorna!
Health Care Providers Week was a success!
The Health Providers Bargaining Unit signed an irrevocable agreement with the regions regarding supervisors within the CBA. They will remain in scope.
Members of the Education Sector continue to deal with workplace pressures related to the government priority that situates post-secondary and skills training with labour market needs of the provincial economy.
Private industry has a significant influence on programming in our public institutions. This process of commodifying public education puts pressure on our members to do more with less. Revenue generation is prioritized over delivering quality education.
This year, we welcomed employees of the Northern Teacher Education Program and Northern Professional Access College as the newest members of our sector.
With the looming privatization of 40 liquor stores, we have been contacting members and MLAs and attending town council meetings to educate the public about the benefits of public liquor sales.
We have engaged in an ongoing "Keep Liquor Public" campaign that included mail outs, commercials, petitions, letters to the editor, and social media.
We have appreciated the support of the union in standing behind our members at our time of crisis, as we face the threat of job losses and upended livelihoods.
The trend in our sector of below poverty line wages continues, with many of our members working long hours under high stress conditions, and often taking up additional employment to make ends meet. Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) will often charge less to provide services that are comparable to many public sector services.
A recent study completed by our National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has shown that funding levels for CBO’s has been cut by 25% over the last twenty years.
Community Service Workers deserve to be paid a decent living wage to support our families and provide services to people in our communities