The announcement in January of this year that the provincial government will replace the 12 existing health regions with one single provincial health authority has prompted CUPE to respond in kind with its own restructuring.
“With the move to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, we know that the current five regional health authorities where CUPE represents members will be dissolved at some point this fall,” says Sandra Seitz, president of the CUPE Health Care Council.
Seitz says the provincial government’s announcement earlier this year started the discussion on how CUPE would function under one province-wide employer.
After thorough discussion at CUPE Health Care Council executive meetings and consultation with members at the annual conference, each of the five CUPE health care locals served notice of motion to their respective memberships in June to conduct a vote on merging their locals into one provincial union, as set out in the National CUPE Constitution.
CUPE Local 5999, representing health services providers working for the Sun Country Health Region, was first out of the gate in holding its merger vote. The merger resolution was approved June 28 by an overwhelming majority (88 per cent) of Local 5999 members voting.
“We were very pleased with the results as well as the voter turnout, which was one of the largest we’ve ever had,” says Wanda Edwards, acting president of CUPE Local 5999.
Edwards says that local members could see the bigger picture of what needed to be done. Members understood that they would still be well represented at the facility level, even as part of a CUPE provincial union. Local activists were also reassured that the many community outreach initiatives organized by Local 5999 over the years could continue under the larger provincial local structure.
The remainder of the merger votes will be conducted as follows:
- August 2 – Local 4777 (Prince Albert/Parkland Health Region)
- August 3 – Local 5111 (Prairie North Health Region)
- August 14 – Local 3967 (Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region)
- August 14 – Local 4980 (Sunrise Health Region)
According to the merger resolutions, the new provincial union will include all the locals which pass merger resolutions.
Approval of the merger resolutions will also constitute notice of a founding meeting of the Saskatchewan CUPE Provincial Union of Health Care Workers to be held on September 13, 2017 in Regina.
Delegates attending the founding meeting will adopt bylaws for the new provincial union and approve an interim executive board.
The merger resolutions also state that “Until a charter is issued and bylaws are approved, the Executive Boards of the former locals will continue to govern their respective memberships and operate under their current bylaws.”
Though many details will need to be ironed out if the merger resolutions are approved by the membership, Seitz says there are many reasons to support the merger.
“Now that we will be working with one employer, merging into one provincial union local will provide CUPE with the opportunity to ensure that our collective agreement along with employer policies are applied consistently throughout our workplaces,” says Seitz. “Having 14,000 members uniting in solidarity will make us stronger into the future.”
For more information on the proposed merger of CUPE locals, please download the merger backgrounder. Members can also contact their local office or the CUPE Health Care Council office at (306) 546-2185 for more information.