Presidents Message 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!
Presidents Message Fri, 1 Sep 2017
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 Sask. Party politicians are hearing concerns from the people of Saskatchewan that any change in ownership constitutes privatization.
Our hard work is paying off. We must not stop now. We need to keep the pressure on until this legislation that was introduced last fall is defeated and our Crowns are protected.
Our Crowns were built by the people of Saskatchewan for the people of Saskatchewan.
SGI since inception has provided reliable affordable insurance to the people of Saskatchewan. In 2016 SGI achieved a profit of 84.5 million dollars. This generated 47.3 million dollars in dividends for the people of Saskatchewan.
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. For the month of September there will be Rallies, Town Halls and door knocking in various communities through out the province. Please check out our calendar of events for dates and locations.
Together We Are Stronger!
Presidents Message Wed, 26 Jul 2017
Yesterday afternoon we met with SGI. We had requested this meeting as a follow up to the concerns raised by our Members on the “High Level talks that were reported in the media about the partial sale of SGI. We expressed our disappointment that we heard that there were now 16 companies that have expressed an interest in a partnership with SGI through the media. SGI did apologize to the Union and called it an oversight that we had not been notified prior to reports surfacing in the media and again we were assured that we would be notified if anything changes.
We were told by Andrew Cartmell “They are not high-level conversations; in fact, they were preliminary phone calls. There have been many media reports that the crowns are for sale and companies are out there are looking for opportunity. We have specific needs in the insurance industry and it makes no sense to take on a partner unless certain criteria are met, and in the case of the 16 calls none fit our requirements. “
We expressed our concerns with recent media reports of Management receiving bonus’s while the same media is talking about the government coming after our wages.
We shared many of the fears that our membership has been relaying to us via phone calls or emails.
We did touch on bargaining quickly and we agreed to provide some dates to meet at the table by the end of August. If you have any suggestions on bargaining issues please have them emailed to the office before August 14th 2017.
I thank you all for your patience and understanding as we are going through some very challenging times. We will have more news about an upcoming coalition effort with the other Crown Unions. Remember “Together We Are Stronger”
We encourage anyone with questions to send in an email or phone the office.
Presidents Message Thu, 20 Jul 2017
We have received calls and emails from concerned Members with the article that the Regina Leader Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix both ran today.
“High Level talks underway about partial sale of SGI” http://leaderpost.com/business/local-business/high-level-talks-underway-about-partial-sale-of-sgi
The Union has seen the article and we are extremely disappointed that we have not been informed by the Corporation prior to reading these headlines in the media.
On May 3, 2017, the Union met with SGI and were advised that SGI has met with 11 different companies around a possible “partnership” with SGI. We were told by Andrew that the Union would be kept informed. Today we find out through the media that there are now 16 firms looking at SGI and we are very concerned.
We have contacted SGI and are waiting to discuss further with them. Once we have some answers we will update the website.
Presidents Message Fri, 5 May 2017
On May 3, 2017 Rhonda Derby and Cory Szczepanski COPE Local 397 Union Reps were requested to attend a meeting with Rob Mcleod Director of Employee Relations. He wanted to advise them of some restructuring of the SGI Employee Relations Department. They were then advised that Tamara Erhardt Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer and Andrew Cartmell President and CEO wanted to talk to them.
They received the same message that Andrew sent to all staff of SGI and at approximately the same time you all received the email. The Union had no idea that this was happening, there was no talks prior to this meeting.
The Union was advised that SGI has met with 11 different companies around a possible partnership with SGI. Andrew made it clear that there have been no offers and no deal to date. The discussion was a result to the introduction of Bill 40 and through the direction of the current government. Andrew went on to assure them that there would only be a deal if it fell under the Saskatchewan Party’s outline to strengthen the crown, diversify the economy, and create jobs. Tamara stated that this would allow them to hire more employees and make them stronger.
Cory asked if these conversations were going on prior to the introduction of Bill 40. Andrew advised that this has been ongoing since January/February, 2017.
Cory asked if there has been any discussion around strategy and what the future could look like as our members are very worried specifically about rural offices and the possibility of closures. The union asked for assurance or a commitment that our rural branches would not be on the chopping block. Andrew commented that there has been no discussion around what they would be doing with SGI Canada. Tamara said that they would not give a commitment that rural branches won’t be cut.
The union stated that we just want to know if there is a partnership and an expansion of SGI will Saskatchewan still be at the heart of SGI. We could not receive a commitment on this.
For now, it is business as usual.
The COPE 397 Executive Board meet last night and discussed this in great detail. We are very concerned and realize that we have a very busy time ahead of us. We will continue to fight hard for all our members and all the citizens of Saskatchewan. We need to continue to educate our members and the public about the consequences of losing our Crown Corporations.
I have a meeting with the (SFL) Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Central Strategy Committee on May 16. This is a Political Action Committee of all union leaders and/or SFL Executive Officers. We are going to discuss the Strategic Plan of Action for the upcoming months. Our own Political Action and Communications Committees will be meeting after this meeting to discuss what else we can do. We will be looking for members that are interested in assisting us with our campaign. We will require people to help distribute information, attend rallies across the province and help educate the public.
We have received many inquiries on management’s recent Merit Pay. Unfortunately, we have no control as a Union on the compensation and or wages paid to management. However, as citizens we do have a say. I implore each and every one of you to lobby MLA’s and let your voice be heard. Please tell all your co-workers, family and friends to do the same. If you want some guidance on this please contact your Executive, Prairie Council Member or Steward.
We will be having a Stewards Conference call later this month as well.
Our next General Membership Meeting is June 8, 2017 at 7.30 p.m. at the Union Centre 2709 12th Ave. I encourage you all to attend for further updates.
We have been 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! See you at the bargaining table.
Your bargaining team will be meeting later this month to begin work on our proposal package for bargaining with SGI. If you have not sent in your proposals please do by May 15, 2017.
Please continue to follow us on Facebook and visit our Website regularly for further updates.
Our Union is only as strong as our members. Please continue to assist us with this fight.
Presidents Message Thu, 27 Apr 2017
Yesterday I joined many union leaders, activists and Saskatchewan residents at the Legislature in hopes that our government would make the right decision and not pass Bill 40. We filled the gallery in support of our Crown Corporations and keeping them public. Our Crown Corporations were built by the people of Saskatchewan for the people of Saskatchewan. The dividends from the Crown Corporations put money back into our schools, roads, health care and many other programs in our community’s. Our Crowns provide reliable affordable services for the people of Saskatchewan.
We were all dressed in black. What we witnessed was a government that turned their backs once again on the people of Saskatchewan. When the vote began we all turned our backs on the government as they have done to us many times.
The Saskatchewan government passed legislation that will allow sale of up to 49 per cent of the province's Crown Corporations.
Bill 40 creates a legal definition of privatization that allows the partial sale of a Crown without requiring an election or referendum by the people of the province.
Up to 49 per cent of each Crown, such as SGI, SaskTel, SaskEnergy and SaskPower, could be up for grabs to private shareholders, without technically being "privatized".
We left with very heavy hearts as we are all mourning the beginning of the end of our Crown Corporations.
I want to thank our Executive, Prairie Council, members and the people of Saskatchewan that attended our Town Halls and Rallies across Saskatchewan. The fight is not over. Now more than ever we all need to stand together and continue to fight our current government every step of the way. I strongly encourage each and every one of you to call, email, visit in person or write your MLA. Tell them that you oppose the sale of any part of our Crown Corporations. No more cutbacks, No roll backs, No to privatization.
Together We Are Stronger!
Presidents Message Mon, 27 Mar 2017
Please see below information on upcoming short rallies across the Province – please try to attend when in your area. Please share this information on breaks and lunch, after work with friends, family and co-workers and encourage them to come out for the rallies as well. We need this government to see that we have solidarity in the labour movement and we will fight back every step of the way.
The Moose Jaw rally is during Spring School and will have a special speaker Barb Byers. All delegates of Spring School will march together to the rally. Lets encourage all SGI employees to attend the rally over the lunch hour.
• Regina – Save STC and Stop Bill 40 Rally tomorrow (Tuesday, March 28th).
• Saskatoon – Rally to Stop Bill 40 and Stop the Cuts (with a march to the STC depot at 12:30PM). Friday, March 31st;
• Prince Albert – Rally to Stop Bill 40 and Stop the Cuts. Friday, March 31st;
• Moose Jaw -- Rally to Stop Bill 40 and Stop the Cuts. Wednesday, April 5th;
• Regina -- Rally to Stop Bill 40 and Stop the Cuts. Saturday, April 8th.
The details for each event can be found here: http://www.sfl.sk.ca/rally.
Together We Are Stronger!
Presidents Message Thu, 9 Mar 2017
Welcome to our new WEBSITE!
We are so excited to announce the launch of our new website.
We are moving forward on our commitment to communicate with the Members and it was apparent that our old website did not allow for the expansion that we were looking for. Our new website is easy to use and allows us the ability to continue to add to the site as needed.
We are still working on the website and the next phase we will be working on is the Members page. Once we have this addition completed all Members will be provided direction on signing in. You will receive a letter in the mail with directions on accessing the Members portion of the Website. Once this page is completed we will have the ability to update the site with confidential information as needed. One of the first things that we will have on the Members Site is our monthly Treasurer’s Reports.
As we move closer to bargaining we will have updates on what is happening leading up to bargaining and then during bargaining.
All of the Committees will be working together and using the website more to communicate the business of the Local to our Members.
We are looking at doing surveys in the Members page.
Please contact the office if you have suggestions of what you would like to see on the website.
Please make sure that you update your personal information with the Union Office as we don’t want to miss anyone when providing access to the Members page.
Presidents Message Wed, 8 Mar 2017
Yesterday I received a call from Rob McLeod, Director, Employee Relations at SGI requesting a meeting with us after the Government releases the Budget. He advised that I would be receiving a letter in regards to this. The letter came late yesterday afternoon. I have attached the letter for you all to see. »» Letter from the SK Minister of Finance
Please watch our website www.cope397.ca and the COPE 397 Facebook for future updates.
Presidents Message Tue, 28 Jun 2016
I cannot believe that the end of June is just around the corner. As we approach July I would like to wish each and every one of you a happy safe summer. I hope everyone has the opportunity to take in the sunshine and enjoy your family and loved ones. If travelling on vacation please be safe!
Every day, we make it our mission to work for you, the Members, and protect our jobs through the good and bad times. Beyond defending our Members’ rights under their respective collective agreements, we are a Union that prides itself on working to find solutions to create a work environment that is respectful, equitable, fair and efficient. However, as I have said many times, we cannot do it alone. Our collective success as a labour organization will be measured by our ability to engage our Members to become involved in our Union goals and activities. We need you to be an active part in this Union, because a Union is only as strong as its Members. Now more than ever, we need our Members to participate in any way they can.
I personally invite you to become an active Member in our Union. To find out more on how you can become involved, or want to find out more about the role and responsibilities of our Union, don’t hesitate to contact me. I look forward to meeting you. Our next General Membership Meeting is Thursday September 8, 2016 and I look forward to seeing you there! This meeting will also be available on GoToMeeting for all Stewards. At our November General Membership Meeting we would like to open up this option to all COPE Local 397 Members.
Presidents Message Thu, 12 May 2016
Greetings Brothers and Sisters
We have been busy in the office with bargaining for some of our Units and preparing for some that are about to expire or just have expired. If you have proposals that you would like to submit or language that you feel needs to be cleaned up please fill out the bargaining proposal sheets on our website www.cope397.ca and submit to the office.
We are working on building a stronger Steward Network. We have held two COPE Schools and are planning another for the fall. We have recently held two Steward Conference Calls and in the future plan to hold them regularly. We want a stronger engagement with the Membership and by keeping the Stewards up to date on the business of the Local they can share this information with our Members. We have opened up the General Membership Meetings to all Stewards through GotoMeeting and once we have this running smoothly we plan to open it up to all our Members in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
We have begun the President's Tour for 2016 and have been out to a few branches and Units. We will visit as many locations as possible before the end of June and then break over the summer and start up again in September. The meetings have an informal agenda and we are open to discuss your issues and concerns as well. I will also have Rhonda Derby or Nathan Markwart your Reps with me to attend the areas that they are responsible for. Here is the schedule of where we will be in the near future. We look forward to seeing everyone!
Prince Albert – Monday, May 30 at 5.30 p.m. at the Brewhouse
Tisdale –Tuesday, May 31 at 5.30 p.m. at the Canalta Hotel
Yorkton – Wednesday, June 1 at 5.30 p.m. at the Pigsicle BBQ
Moose Jaw – Monday, June 6 at 5.30 p.m. at Moose Jaw Claims Center
As we book more tours we will update this list.
Presidents Message Thu, 4 Feb 2016
Greetings Brothers and Sisters
I am truly committed to working together with the Membership, Executive and Prairie Council to make positive change for each and everyone’s future.
We must not forget that unions are essential for democracy. All the benefits we have today ranging from a safe work environment, five day work-week, to the grievance process and a collective voice to bargain over working conditions comes to us from the tireless efforts of those who came before us. Even workers that do not belong to a union benefit from the existence of unions. We must never take for granted what we have and what it took to get us here.
The struggle continues and we need to focus on the future. The labour movement is a constant battle and we are faced with Government attacks such as privatization and deregulation. I will be posting a President’s Message regularly on our website to keep the membership updated on the current issues that affect us all in one way or another.
I want to say thank you to all the Sisters and Brothers of COPE Local 397, who volunteer your time to become involved by attending a general membership meeting, training, acting as a union shop steward or participating in any and all other union related events. I sincerely appreciate the contributions of the members that serve on the Executive Board and Prairie Council. I know that we will continue to work together supporting each other to build and strengthen our membership and continue to fight for positive change.