The Busy Signal‎ > ‎

2016 - Summer Edition

By: Dave Kuntz - President

The "Principles of Crown Corporations" in Saskatchewan can be summarized by this statement found on the CIC (Crown Investment Corporation) Website:

Prior to 1930 Saskatchewan’s first commercial Crown corporations were established because essential services such as telephone, power, and hail insurance for crops were not available from private companies, or not avail.able to all residents on a fair and equitable basis. The province’s relatively small and widely disbursed population continued to pose service challenges in the 1940s and Crown corporations were established to provide general insurance and transportation services.

There are four guiding principles government owned Crown Corporations follow:
Universal, or available to everyone;
Reliable;
High quality; and
Offered at a reasonable cost

The Crowns must balance these public policy objectives with commercial and financial objectives. They are expected to contribute to the economy and to provide a good return on investment to their share.holders, the people of Saskatchewan.

We must remember the reasons why all Crown Corporations, and SaskTel in particular, are ‘Good for Everyone’:

We all own it – as a person living in Saskatchewan you are a shareholder and owner of SaskTel.

High Quality Services — every person in this province has access to high quality telecommunication services including all rural communities.  Let’s face it, big companies are all about profits, not good quality service for everyone. 

Reliable Network — Our network is the most reliable in the province.  We really are the only network in the province.  Other telecommunications companies use our facilities.  They rent from us!  Anyone who says they are going to the competition because they have a better network in the province does not have their facts straight!

Competitive Prices — Our pricing is the best anywhere.  You’ve seen it first hand on your bill.  You’ve heard the advertising and you’ve seen the media stories showing SaskTel with the lowest “5Gig Talk and Text Plan” in Canada at $65.52 com­pared to a national average of $107.50 as quoted in a CBC news article.

With all of the great service everywhere in the province and the low pricing we offer, SaskTel still has net profits every year and provides a substantial yearly return on investment to the Government. 

The following table shows the Key Financial Indicators of SaskTel provided in their annual reports:

Why would anyone think it makes sense to sell and privatize a company with this kind of revenue return?  It makes my head spin when I think about this.  We are dealing with short sighted politicians.  They have managed to dig themselves a financial hole in the province and are trying to claw their way back out, but in the process are potentially damaging the future for you, your children, and all future generations! 

A one-time cash injection might sound appealing to help with the financial mismanagement of the current government, but think about this:  How will the government replace the millions of dollars in dividends returned to the government by SaskTel?  I’ll tell you, it will be on the backs of the taxpaying people of this province.  The dividend will be gone forever and the taxes will have to go up to offset this loss in dividend.

Speaking of financial information, here is “Economics 101” by Dave Kuntz.  Think about these basic facts:

A strong economy requires a strong middle class with disposable income;

Money paid to Companies and Corporations outside our province is gone forever;

Money needs to circulate in a local economy to provide strength.

These may be very over-simplified statements, remember it is “Economics 101”, but think about the impacts of these statements.  Disposable income is what supports things like restaurants, kids sports, vacations, toys and items such as: ATV’s, snowmobiles, campers, cabins, movies, and the list goes on and on.  The money stays in the province and helps support private businesses and create jobs which also add to the economic strength of our province.

Listen very carefully to my next comments and you can quote me on this!

“Privatization will lead to good quality jobs, with good pay and benefits, being lost and/or replaced with lower paying precarious jobs.”

If we are privatized or sold to another major telco, who is the first to be cut?  Is it you?  They won’t need Call Centers or Help Desks, they’ll be combined with out of province or out of country call centers and help desks.  They won’t need Human Resources people; they’ll do this work in their head office location in another province or maybe another country.  They won’t need finance people, they’ll probably contract out all CST work and IT work.  And what about management?  If I was a manager in SaskTel I’d be very concerned about the future.  They are the easiest to get rid of.  The list goes on and on.

Doom and Gloom? Yes!  Fear Mongering?  Maybe!

If we want to keep our Crown Corporation as it is, it is time for every one of you to start paying attention and getting involved in your future, your kid’s future and the next generation’s future.

What can you do?

Start a conversation.  Talk to your family and friends.  Discuss the ben­efits of Crown Corporations and the economics of the situation.  Talk about the history of SaskTel.  We need to let people know how bad the privatization of SaskTel would be to them.  Let them hear how this will affect their pocket book.  Let them know it will take longer to get new service and to have troubles repaired.

We as employees all have a stake in this company, and as shareholders and people living in this province we have a stake in our province’s economic future as well.  Now is not the time to sit back and hope someone else will take on the fight.  It is up to all of us to stand up, raise our voices, start conversations and share information through social media.

Your future is in your hands!

From the Editor's Desk

By: Gail Sawatzky - Recording Secretary / Editor of The Busy Signal

For as long as I can remember there have been rumours and speculation about selling SaskTel.  So far that is all it has been, rumours and speculation, but the latest round of rumours seem to be hitting home harder than usual.

Looking back over the years there appears to be things being done that would make privatization look like the next natural progression.  Like selling off Navigata at a bargain price; cutting staff; hiring more and more contractors; discontinuing services here and there.  Little by little it begins to appear SaskTel isn’t doing as well as it could be.  Customer service suffers, employees don’t appear to know what is going on, and the shareholders begin to feel like they are not getting the value they deserve from their Crown Corporation and they start thinking that maybe they should cut their losses and sell the company for a one time payout to help ‘fix’ the province’s debt problem.

As these changes are happening within the company there are other factors happening within the province.  As the population ages and more and more foreigners move in, the concept of what it means for SaskTel to be a Crown Corporation is being lost.  Many of us take the benefits for granted and make the assumption everyone knows what Crown Corporations provide to the province and what would be lost if they no longer existed. 

Crown Corporations are owned by the province and were created to provide goods and services to everyone in the province including those areas not considered to be economically viable to a private enterprise. 

Many things have changed over the years.  Crown Corporations in general, and SaskTel specifically, have had to adapt to competition and changing regulations.  The one thing that has not changed is the high cost serving areas in our vast province.  There are many areas where private companies would consider supplying service not to be in their best interest financially.  For Saskatchewan, unfortunately, it could mean anyone not living in Regina, Saskatoon or possibly the other larger cities. 

For most people, other than the employees, privatization may not really cause a big difference initially - at least on the surface and there may even be a few benefits.  Employees would likely be the first affected as positions start to disappear or relocate to other cities or countries depending on where the head office of the new company is located.  Then possibly services could begin to suffer in the smaller or rural areas.  Then  we will see the profits from the company going somewhere else and not being used to benefit the people of Saskatchewan.  SaskTel is far from a perfect company and there is always room for improvement in the products and services offered, but it belongs to the people of Saskatchewan and it is in our best interest to keep it public. 

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 Local 1-S Political Action Committee

By: Rick Ostlund - Chief Steward and PAC Chair

It has been a couple of months since the provincial election.  The campaign we built developed many strong relationships in the city and around the province.  These things will make us strong for the next election.
 

Even though we have had some time since the provincial election, the members have all been active on other committees.  They work tirelessly on as well as taking some time for their family, friends and themselves.  However, their thoughts are on the political front.  Keeping a watchful eye on what is going on at work, in the city, in the province, and around the country.

The Political Action Committee (PAC) is ready to gear up for our next set of tasks.  In the fall, the province heads back to the polls for municipal and school board elections. 

By now we are all aware of the shape of our provincial economy.  We have seen many cuts to our much needed public services including healthcare, education, and our infrastructure.

These cuts weaken our social fabric. Over the next few months the PAC will be working on strategies, ideas and communications to help inform and engage our members so that you can make more informed decisions on who to elect to your school boards and your city council.

In addition to that, we have begun talking about privatization of our crown corporations.  This includes the privatization of SLGA that is in the works at the legislature.  Additionally, a topic that is on many peoples mind is the discussion of the privatization or sale of SaskTel. This is a topic the Political Action Committee will be strategizing and formulating thoughts, opinions on ways to inform and engage not just our members but the community who lives and works here in this great province.

It is our hope that all this is just talk and we do not have to be mobilized into action. We all know how hard our members have worked to put Our Company in a solid position not just financially but as an industry leader, a community supporter and a significant part of Saskatchewan heritage.

We will be working hard to do our best so that it remains that way.
If you have any concerns, questions or comments or wish to get involved please contact us by emailing us at  polaction@uniforlocal1s.ca

In solidarity,

PAC  - Unifor Local 1-S

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Our Union - Why to get Involved

By: Nathan Lorence - Local 1-S Member

I wanted to write an article which I know has been done many times in the past by members of our union who decided to become more active in its activities and responsibilities.  I have been an employee of the company for over 10 years now and I am not proud to admit it but during that time I have only attended 3 general meetings (all in the past 5 months).  It’s not because I do not enjoy or believe in our union that kept me from being involved.  I imagine my story like many others is simply that I didn’t give it much thought.

My personal life complexities and work life duties keep me very busy.  If I am being honest the union just appeared to be working and I didn’t need to think about it.  I do not have, nor have I ever had, any pressing issues that needed to be addressed requiring union involvement so my exposure has been minimal. 

I imagine like most of our membership, my opinion was that paying my union dues and working hard at my job was enough involvement to be a good member.

As long as they (funny that I use the word “they”) were there if I ever need them in the future to assist me, I wasn’t worried.  My picture of our union was they handled grievances and bargained for our wages.

So with that in mind let us look at some of the highlights that have helped keep me complacent with my role within our union.  The birth of our first Collective Agreement was in 1945 and that it has evolved over the years is as a result of the Union doing their best to ensure we are properly recognized for the efforts we put into the company.  It began by discussing and setting guidelines on sick time, overtime, differentials, holidays, vacations, grievances, and wages. 

It is important to note at that time there were documented differences in wages for women in the work­force showing they had to work longer to enjoy a lower and slower wage increase than was defined for men.  Like I said, since the beginning of our Collective Agreement we have improved many things….

Thankfully!

There is still room for improvement.  Some improvements over the years include:

· The defined 40 hour work week in 1946

· The vacation increase to 4 weeks after 25 years in 1960

· Our current vacation (bargained in 1993): 3 weeks after 1 year, 4 after 8, 5 after 15, and 6 after 25.

· The appearance of the EDO (earned day off) once every 3 weeks came about in 1976 and has evolved to our current standard.

· The medical plan established in 1997 and a dental plan roughly at the same time.

· The addition of the Centennial RRSP and Flexible spending accounts which came around more recently.

Those are only a few highlights of improvements along the way and at times there have been employment strikes to get those things we take for granted today. Someone else fought for all of those things for me and went with less on their dinner plate.

I didn’t need to be involved or understand what it took to get to what we have today.  I should have been involved much earlier than now to make sure future generations of employees will be proud of the ac­tions we took to improve things for them when they work here.

Maybe it’s just looking back at the sacrifices others made for us that makes me upset when I hear people say “What’s in it for me!” (but that is a whole different topic).  Like I said earlier, my knowledge of our union until recently was they worked on our collective agreement and handled disputes between company and employee to try to make sure fair deci­sions were made as an end result.  I imagine this in itself is a lot of work and it isn’t close to the entire picture of what our union is involved in at all.

I was completely unaware we have multiple committees. An Aboriginal and Workers of Colour committee, our Pride committee & the Women’s committee. We also have the Social committee, a Youth committee and a  number of others all working in the background of our union to better the world around us.

 I honestly have very little understanding of just how profound the work they are doing is and the struggles each are facing, but I look forward to learning about them, their current activities and their goals and success stories.  I believe because our union has done such a good job to keep our standard of living in a good place, which many of us haven’t really given much thought about what it takes to keep that standard from eroding as we progress into the future.

It’s important to realize as our members become more complacent like I have been our strength as a group dwindles and we run the risk of losing what our predecessors created for us and we may end up creating a future with less for the next generation.

I know, speaking for myself, I have not done enough to make things better and I have enjoyed a lot of what others have done for me.  Now armed only with reading through all of the issues of our Busy Signal and working through our Collective Agreements to get a sense of our history combined with a thirst for knowledge I am looking forward to doing better with my remaining years of service.  My selfish hope is to be a part of making the future better.

Please join in with me and become an active and involved union member.                                                                                                                      

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SFL Pension Conference

By: Andy Malinowski - Chief Steward

On May 3rd and 4th, 2016 the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour held their biennial Pension Conference in Regina.  The conference aimed to promote awareness of pension and retirement benefit issues, and to provide an update on current developments and challenges on pension related issues in Saskatchewan and across the country.  Delegates were given an opportunity to acquire knowledge specific to their areas of interest or responsibility in their roles in the labour movement.

Following the opening of the conference by SFL President Larry Hubich, the Unifor National Director of Pensions and Benefits, Jo-Ann Hannah, addressed the increasing challenges facing working and retired Canadians in her presentation “Is There Really a Pension Crisis?” This was followed by an update on the legal issues and challenges from Murray Gold, nationally recognized legal expert on pensions and benefits and a senior Partner in the law firm Koskie Minsky LLP.

Leah Fichter, the Deputy Superintendent of Pensions in Saskatchewan, provided an update on some of the recent and proposed changes to the Pension Regulations in Saskatchewan.  While there is some attempt to harmonize the Regulations with other jurisdictions in Canada, there are two key areas where plan members’ earned benefits in Saskatchewan are receiving less protection than the rest of the country.  Most jurisdictions now require immediate vesting of employer contributions without any age or length of service requirements - Saskatchewan does not. All jurisdictions in Canada, with the exception of Saskatchewan, require a plan to be fully funded on a plan termination.  Unfortunately, there was no indication from the Deputy Superintendent on any plans to harmonize the regulations in this province to provide the same level of protection to plan members as other Canadians receive from their respective legislation.

Kirby Benning, Chair of the Regina Civic Pension and Benefits Committee and the President of the Saskatchewan Professional Fire Fighters Association, spoke on the multi-year struggles and final reso­lution to the challenges faced by the Regina Civic Pension Plan.

Chris Roberts from the Canadian Labour Congress provided an update on the progress and challenges ahead in attaining retirement security for everyone in Canada.  A prominent speaker on pension issues in Canada, Kevin Skerritt from the CUPE National office spoke on the trends on Target Pension Plans.

Unifor played an important role in the conference.  In addition to the opening presentation by Jo-Ann Hannah, Unifor National Director of Pensions, a workshop was put on by retired 1-S member Janice Bernier on “Retirement? You Need a Game Plan!”  This was an introduction to the two day retirement preparation program offered by the Saskatchewan Union Retirees Federation (SURF).  Unifor 1-S had six members attend the conference as well as two retired 1-S members from TPAS (Telephone Defined Benefit Pension Association) and another retired 1-S member from the SaskTel Pension Plan Board.

Two of the Unifor members that attended are members of the SFL Pension & Benefit Committee and played a role in the planning and delivery of the conference.

It is clear organized labour’s role goes beyond defending and improving the retirement security of those fortunate enough to have pensions in their workplace.  It also extends to improving and expanding public pension plans, such as the CPP, so that all retired workers in this country may be able to maintain their standard of living in retirement.


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National Aboriginal Day

By: Claudine Stom - Vice President

This year’s National Aboriginal Day was spent in Grassick Park with volunteers from our local.  We donated water and juice for their BBQ which fed 1000 people.  We also provided toys to the children in attendance as well as gifts for the Elders present.  It was a great time with tons of folks in the park. 

We were happy to offer our assistance to the members of the Circle Project and support their 19th Annual National Aboriginal celebration.  Special thanks to Dave Kuntz and his wife Jacquie Donald, Tara Bast, Don Wren, and Cory Lewis for all their help in ensuring a successful event.


To Sell or not to Sell

By: Jason Reihl - Unifor Local 3 Member

I remember distinctly, soon after the Sask Party first came to power, attending a meeting with SaskTel's new Minister, a meeting during which Minister Cheveldayoff unambiguously stated, "Our government believes strongly in taking a step back in all and any areas where private business can step in to fill that role".  As ominous as his vow was then, it is doubly so now.  We are now seeing the kind of blind ideology that flies in the face of sound government fiscal policy playing out in full public view. 

Not that I agree with many of the articles floating around, they are at least useful in clearly showing Brad Wall's intentions and help show how the study/inquiry/dog-and-pony show for the fait accompli it is intended to be.  Anyone who thinks the end results of the proposed inquiry weren't already decided long ago are deluding themselves.  It will be nothing more than a tool for setting a low-ball price on the company and for propaganda that SaskTel can no longer compete with the bigger players - even though all our economic indicators show we've not only been competing successfully with them, we've been kicking their butts.

Wall was cagey.  He and his party did seem to suggest, during the campaign, they would not look at privatizing any of the major Crowns,.  This was mostly done through the Sask Party’s frequent accusations that the NDP were fear-mongering when they questioned the Sask Party's intentions and plans for the Crowns.

SaskTel has defied people's expectations time and again.  Established in 1908, SaskTel was first to bring telephone service to rural areas, first to bring in fibre optics, the first company on the entire planet to implement IPTV over DSL when everyone else in the world said it could not be done, and now fibre-to-the-premise and wireless that gives our customers the fastest high speed internet service in Western Canada, and I believe 2nd fastest in the entire country.  When we still were allowed to operate outside the province before Brad Wall’s government ham-strung us, we won huge and prestigious worldwide contracts.  Doing all the wiring in the Chunnel between the UK and France is but one example. We're that good!

All these accomplishments were done at prices that forced our competitor to cut their prices in half to be able to compete in Saskatchewan while we are still incredibly profitable enough to add ~$100,000,000 each and every year to provincial coffers to help pay for education, healthcare, highways, etc.  There is no reason to think for a second that this won't continue.

The MTS deal in no way changes our marketplace, our competitiveness, or our business fundamentals, so this whole idea of an inquiry because of the deal is a complete sham.  It's one giant smoke-screen to attempt to set up an irrational excuse to sell one of Saskatchewan's greatest and most sound long-term assets.

So, to summarize:

1) SaskTel brings world-leading, cutting-edge technologies to the people of Saskatchewan;

2) Some of the lowest rates in Canada;

3) Among the very highest reported levels of customer satisfaction;

4) One of the best return-on-investments in the entire sector, further proving our profitability and competitiveness (I believe out of all the Telcos and cable companies, only Shaw has a slightly higher return on their assets, which isn’t surprising considering their poor record of getting troubles fixed and much higher prices);

5) Speeds that make our competi­tors green with envy;

6) Profits returned to the province in the form of dividends that help pay for services like educa­tion, healthcare, etc., that are currently facing the spectre of deep cuts, and need more than ever that reliable revenue stream that SaskTel (and the other Crown corporations) provide;

7) SaskTel is the only provider who doesn’t have data caps! Those customers that enjoy streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, etc., or do a lot of downloading/uploading of files, would *sorely* miss the lack of capping of data which SaskTel has as part of their business model, for if sold, there is no doubt that whoever the buyer would be would introduce data-capping, along with at least doubling their prices, offering much slower Internet speeds, and all of the rest that I’ve already mentioned above.

Whenever I would talk to a customer who had recently moved from another province to Saskatchewan, they were uniformly always very grateful for the service SaskTel pro­vides and almost every one of them would have horror stories about having to wait up to 6 months just to get their TV or Internet back up and running in their old home provinces.  If, as an example, a squirrel chewed through the copper-pair running to their premises.

This entire issue is a political and fiscal no-brainer, and the only reason any politician or political party would want to sell as great a proven and reliable asset as SaskTel is (with an equally proven and reliable revenue stream) would be for reasons purely ideological, just like when Grant Devine sold SaskOil and the Potash Corp. at a detriment and loss to the people of Saskatchewan that was and is still incalculable.  Now we see Devine's protégé doing the exact same thing.

There's nothing wrong with ideology except when it collides with and overrides plain common sense and pragmatism.  Especially common sense that provides so many benefits to the people of Saskatchewan: SELLING A LONG TERM ASSET TO COVER A SHORT-TERM BUDGET DEFICIT IS ECONOMIC SUICIDE! 

This is Business School 101 level stuff.  A good analogy would be a farmer selling off a good portion of their land (a long-term asset) to pay for seed and herbicide for one season (a short-term cost); you don’t need a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce or Business Admin to see how quickly a business would go under if it were run like that.  The government of Saskatchewan, while not strictly a business, still needs to follow these basic fundamentals of business acumen to be successful, and not push the province back to the brink of bankruptcy as under the Devine years.

Selling SaskTel would ultimately mean worse service and a much smaller service area (I'm looking at you rural Saskatchewan), slower speeds, and much higher prices, not to even mention the loss of the huge annual dividend to the provincial coffers.



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2016 Annual Picnic

By: Claudine Stom - Executive Director - Social Committee

On June 8th, Unifor Local 1‑S held our annual Family Picnic.  It was well attended this year as always serving just over 500 people.  The weather held out for us and it was a scorching 30 degree day. 

As such, events like this require many volunteers and we were lucky to have so many folks come out to help put this on.  Many thanks to each of you as well as our Pioneers who also came out to assist us.  Special thanks to SaskTel for providing the wages for each of our volunteers.

We had tons of great food for everyone – as well the major staple – ice cream.  The kids enjoyed many great games including the water balloon toss.  We also did the watermelon eating contest and even got the adults to participate.  Eve­ryone had a great time and another successful picnic is behind us once again. 

On behalf of the Unifor Local 1-S Social Committee as well as our Executive Board, we would like to thank everyone for attending, helping out and being a part of this event once again.

Happy Summer to everyone 





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 Queen City Pride - Local 1-S was there!

By:  Troy Bernasconi -  Chief Steward

This year’s Queen City Pride Parade was quite simply the biggest and best in Regina’s history. Over 1000 participants and 80 float entries were cheered on by several thousands of spectators as we marched around the downtown core on Saturday, June 25, 2016.

The Local 1-S Pride Committee, working with Unifor National and the Western Region (Joie and Ken) as well as other members from Local 649 participated in this year’s parade in a big way. This support came in the form of funds and volunteers to help build and staff our entry.

We created a small float that was covered in a rainbow of balloons, pumping out the tunes while proudly displaying the Unifor Local 1-S logo. The pride committee, joined by allies of the LGBTQ movement distributed little flags and other collateral along with tons of good will to the crowds lining the entire length of the parade route.

While many groups were well represented at past parades, this year was special in that our Muslim brothers and sisters joined the parade for the very first time. The significance of this cannot be understated and we welcomed them with open arms.

I want to offer a special thanks to all of the hard working volunteers and committee members whose dedication made this an awesome and successful event and of course thank you to all of the spectators that came out to cheer on equality.

Next year promises to be even more grand and we are already eagerly looking forward to it. If you have not participated in the past, I encourage you to join us in 2017.


                                                                                                                                                                                           

CLIFF

By: Pat Crossman - Chief Steward

This November our union and numerous others across Canada are going to set aside an evening to host a CLIFF screening. 

CLIFF is the Canadian Labour International Film Festival.  CLIFF is the national organization that is bringing labour films to communities across Canada from Sydney Nova Scotia to Sydney BC.  CLIFF is the only National Labour Film Festival in Canada and it just might be the only national labour film festival in the world.

Working people need to be able to tell their own stories, in their own words and images.  CLIFF offers cash prizes each year for original film and video submissions in 3 categories.  The CLIFF Youth Award, Health and Safety Award and the Best in Festival Award (determined in Toronto at the annual CLIFF Film Festival).

CLIFF films and video encompass a range of styles from straight ahead documentary style to animation.  Film topics cover a wide spectrum of labour and worker issues, including films about: privatization, youth, First Nations people, people of col­our, immigrants, refugees, detainees, health and safety, resistance, art, poetry, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, taxi drivers, truck drivers, rickshaw drivers – anyone who does anything considered work.

In 2015 many audiences saw the documentary, Behind the Fare, a film that follows the stories of taxi drivers in Toronto as they resist the infringement of the foreign corporation, Uber, on their livelihoods.

Half the fun of hosting a CLIFF film night is that the CLIFF organizing committee accepts requests from across the country and then they select a film and ship it to us. All we have to do is provide a space, do some advertising, make some popcorn and take advantage of a brilliant and entertaining idea.

This November let’s make a date with CLIFF.   

Prairie School for Union Women

By: Tara Bast - Chief Steward

Prairie School for Union Women facilitated by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour was held this year from June 12—16 at Waskesiu Lake.  Five members from our local were selected to attend the training courses including: Jamie Davidson, Diane Shanner, Laura Kemper, Janna Pratt and myself. 

The courses offered this year included:

· Health & Safety Activism

· Power, Privilege and People

· Popular Education for Everyday Union Work

· Union Women on Turtle Island

· Take Action—Plan for Your Retirement Now

· Solidarity, Activism: Engaging Our Diverse Communities

· First Steps—Union Basics for Women

· Labour History, Culture and Song

· A Journey to Empower Union Women

I chose to attend the “Take Action—Plan for Your Retirement Now” course which discussed the importance of planning for your retirement the earlier the better to ensure you can maintain the standard of living you would like.

The objectives included:

· Exploring issues that women face prior to retirement

· Reflect on the retirement that we want and how to prepare our­selves

· Assess the non-financial resources that we have in approaching retirement, our creativity, spirituality and our family and friends

· We learned about the 3 basic money groups (necessities, luxury and savings)

· How to reduce discretionary expenses

· Financial security—liquid assets—investments

· DB & DC plans—RRSP-RESP-TFSA-RRIF

I would like to thank the members of Local 1-S for giving me the opportunity to attend this course.

If anyone is interested in more information please let me know.



Dr. Katz: One of the Key architects of The Bystander Approach

By: Pat Crossman - Chief Steward

Thursday June 23rd was the 40th Anniversary of the Regina Transition House.  This milestone was marked by a luncheon that featured an influential speaker famous for his work in gender violence prevention.

The keynote speaker was world renowned researcher and theorist, Ted Talks guest, author and women’s advocate, Dr. Jackson Katz.

Dr. Katz is one of the key architects of The Bystander Approach. He is a cultural theorist who is internationally renowned for his pioneering scholarship in gender violence prevention and education through a method and a program called Mentors in Violence Prevention. 

Dr. Katz’s most recent book is the study of American politics called  Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity.  He also wrote The Macho Paradox.

Dr. Katz has long been involved in work with major American sports teams and corporations.  His life’s work has been stating the obvious (violence hurts everyone, the victims deserve our help and the behaviour is criminal).  He pays close attention to language and how language sup­ports or permits the normalization of male violence against women and children.

The Transition House held a morning session prior to the luncheon that was by invitation only.  Many of the invitees were from organizations that support the work of the Regina Transition House such as local police and RCMP officers; while other invitees were from another of Dr. Katz’s target audiences; men from amateur and professional sports teams and so the Regina Rams, and the Riders were well represented. 

What a great opportunity for a few of our community services to integrate some of Dr. Katz’s ground breaking and influential work on anti domestic violence into their workplaces.

Our National and local union - Unifor are focusing on the issue of domestic violence.  How can work be safe when home is not?  Emphasis is being placed on workplace safety and women’s advocacy.  In the last collective agreement we negotiated a Women’s Advocate position and it is likely to be in place before September.  The Women’s Advocate will work with STEPP and other resources.

Many recognize that in North America and in this time in history that things are pretty good.  However while we are congratulating ourselves on the progress made, these are very recently won changes.  Women have had the right to vote for only 100 years! 

For approximately the last 40 years women were no longer denied the right to become a member of the RCMP and most city police forces, fire fighting units, TV and radio news readers, weather “man” positions, or take any degree or trade school offering.  This is still a relatively fragile social and economic change.  Along with the vote and a hard won right to asset ownership, such as a business, farm land and property, or the right to retain one’s name and the right to borrow money without a father, brother or husband as a co-signer.  These are laudable and invaluable milestones to all women becoming fully independent.

In spite of these gains, women and children all around the world still live in fear of violence, slavery and death only because they are women and children.

In Saskatchewan today families live in fear of “domestic” violence. The possibility for a woman to die at the hands of an intimate partner is a sad reality.

Saskatchewan has been cited as having one of the very worst domestic violence records in Canada.  The danger is so high that our provincial government has agreed to look at the spousal murders from the past 3 years and make recommendations.

For people who live in fear we have a long way to go.  For those of you who see this as only a problem of “others” like only poor people, or minority groups or foreigners or only addicts, the facts do not support this.  The problem is everywhere and in every strata of life.

Thanks to organizations like the Regina Transition House 15,000 women and children found shelter in the last 40 years.  That’s an astounding fact. 


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Prairie Regional Council

By: Gail Sawatzky - Recording Secretary

The 2016 Prairie Regional Council Meeting was held April 30—May 2, 2016 at the Delta Hotel in Regina.   For two and a half days approximately 215 Unifor delegates , staff members, and guests from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba came together to hear presentations from a variety of national, regional and local presenters.

Following a welcome by Elder Mike Pinay, Joie Warnock reported on the activities the Prairie Locals had been involved in over the past 12 months. 

Greetings and reports were given by:

· Larry Hubich, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour;

· Darla Leard, Canadian Labour Congress;

· Peter Kennedy, National Secretary Treasurer;

· Roland Kiehne, Political Action Report

· Barb Dolan, Retirees Department

· Ken Kubian, Regina District Labour Council;

· Eric Rosendahl, Alberta NDP;

· John Aman, Organizing;

· Kirk Brown, United Way and

· Trent Wortherspoon, Interim Leader of the Saskatchewan NDP

Other presentations included:

· David Thompson, Just Transition for Workers;

· Jack Saddleback, U of S Students Union;

· Barb Byers, Canadian Labour Congress

· Gerrand, Rath, Johnson LLP, Drug and Alcohol Testing Jurisprudence

· Danielle Monroe, Action Coalition on Human Trafficking

Keynote speaker Gabrielle Scrimshaw, daughter of Glen Scrimshaw, told of her life story and struggles growing up in Saskatchewan. She has become known as one of the “3 Young Aboriginal Canadians to Watch“by Huffington Post. Gabrielle is now attending Stanford University taking her Master of Business Administration as well as Harvard Kennedy School for a Master in Public Administration.  As one of the co-founders of the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada she proved to be a very powerful and inspiring speaker at the conference.

The Prairie Regional Council also debated and passed several resolutions to be acted on in the upcoming year.  Some of the resolutions included:

· Creating and supporting an EFAP/Addictions Committee to assist our leadership and members in dealing with addictions and mental health issues in addition to recovery;

· Unifor bargaining units negotiate paid leave for victims of domestic violence;

· Local Unions be encouraged to work with community allies or organize or participate in actions as part of the $15 minimum wage and fairness campaign;

· Local Unions are encouraged to send young workers to the first National Young Workers Summit organized by the Canadian Labour Congress

During the conference there was also an opportunity for the Women; Ab­original & Workers of Colours; LGBT and Young Workers to get together and make plans for action.  The delegation also collected a donation totaling $1,600.00 for the UFCW workers on strike at the Seven Oaks motel with the national matching the amount collected.  A march to the Colonialism No More—Solidarity Camp at the INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) office on Albert Street was also arranged and a collection taken at the conference for them as well. 

It was definitely a full two and a half days and everyone left with ideas and plans for the upcoming year.


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Aboriginal & Workers of Colour Conference

By: Albert Ngui - Steward

First off, I would like to thank our union membership for selecting Janna Pratt and I, to be your representatives for the Aboriginal Workers & Workers of Colour (AWOC) Conference that was held at UNIFOR's Family Education Centre on June 3-5, 2016.  It was an excellent experience where both of us got to meet and listen to fellow Aboriginal Workers & Workers of Colour across the country, all of which are people like ourselves, who are working to build our union and strengthen the labour movement across the country.

It was my impression UNIFOR recognizes solidarity amongst the Aboriginal Workers & Workers of Colour in our union is the key to building a unified working class.  So this year’s conference theme was, “Redefining the True Faces of Our Union” which I believe was meant to speak to UNIFOR’s resolve in not letting others divide us based on our race or ethnic background. 

The conference had a combination of exciting guest speakers, creative workshops, and cultural activities where we got to participate in learning how to organize, strategize and build networks for moving forward our local union – and our country.

The focus of the conference was to recognize that there is continued racism and discrimination against Aboriginal Workers & Workers of Col­our in our workplace and in society today.  There were also discussions on strategies of how we can increase participation of our Aboriginal Workers & Workers of Colour in our union activities and leadership.

In the final day, Janna and I, were given an audience to directly speak to our senior leadership, including our president Jerry Dias.  In that time, using language in our recently ratified Collective Agreement as an example, which allows our members to run for First Nation leadership positions in their respective workplaces; we were successful in putting in a resolution (or Union-wide change), where now ALL local UNIFOR unions across Canada will have to include this language in their collective agreements.  It was truly a proud moment for me to say that the membership of Local 1-S, is responsible for encouraging this landmark change, and each-and-every one of you, our membership should be very proud of this.

Thank you Unifor Local 1-S for letting me be, proudly your spokesperson for encouraging change and equity in the workplace!

Conference Organizers

· Mohamad Alsadi, Tim Currie

Keynote Speakers:

· Winnie Ng - Labour Rights Activist

· Jack Saddleback - Former President for the University of Saskatchewan Student Union

· Gilary Massa Machado-Former Ryerson Students' Union (RSU) employee; now activist, after being fired for going on maternity leave.

· Sandra Hudson-co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto

Presentations:

· Min Sook Lee, an award winning filmmaker of the documentary "Migrant Dreams"

                                                        



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No Offers for SaskTel (yet)

By: Pat Crossman - Chief Steward

Privatization is the transference of public property to any other party.  In Saskatchewan where the electorate has made it clear that they do not want the Crowns dismantled; privatization is being done by stealth.  Recent polls indicated that more than 60% of the public continue to see the value of keeping the Crowns.  

Aided by news stories of the sale of Sask Liquor Board stores and other lucrative assets as well as editorials implying the sale of SaskTel is possible and advantageous and finally that a (neutral) third party’s valuation will go far to determine next steps.  Premier Wall’s tactical evasions combined with suspicion and cynicism on the public’s part have many concluding it is already a done deal.  

Even some of our co-workers are dusting off their resumes and looking at their options.  Others find comfort in the view that if SaskTel is sold, the purchaser is obliged to take the unionized workforce.  While this is true that is definitely not job security.  A new owner can make any number of business decisions about work priorities, workforce size and location, contracting-out and perhaps even losing the head office if they already have one in Calgary or Toronto.

This bleak scenario is ONLY inevitable if there is no resistance to the idea. 

Now begins the biggest fight of and for our careers.  If we want to maintain SaskTel as a strong, healthy and publicly owned asset now is the time for action and for solidarity.

We must tap into two essential sources of support if we expect to win. Foremost is the SaskTel workforce and our families and friends.  The other ally is the people of the province that see the Crowns for what they are, long term investments and the province’s best mechanism to control its own utilities and resources.  The list of crowns at risk includes the much coveted SaskWater, SGI, Power, Energy and SaskTel.   The CRTC has compiled stats that show that Saskatchewan people enjoy the lowest wireless rate plans in Canada.  While other regions that are dominated by Bell and Telus pay nearly double the monthly charges. 

We must be determined to hold the government to account.  We must expect that our provincial government will act in a manner that is consistent with the long term goals of the citizens, the well being of our province and keeping election promises.

There has been a quiet sell off of assets (Navigata, DirectWest and Sask Liquor Board stores etc).  Interestingly the sales have always been far from Saskatchewan’s largest cities. That certainly goes far to keep the protest too loud.  The principal of out of sight out of mind is at work here.  Navigata was a prospering Vancouver asset.   After the initial sale Navigata was quickly resold for a significant profit.  

Who believes that our Sask Liquor board stores are losing money or costing the province more than they pay into the province’s coffers?  If that was truly the case who would buy these unprofitable businesses?   Even in tough economic times liquor sells and buyers are lined up to buy liquor stores.

It is not unprofitably that is driving the sales of these businesses so much as the double prongs of ideology and a growing government debt.

It would serve the Sask Party well to sell public assets into private hands and at the same time wipe out their debt.  Their bad decisions have lost our province the profits of a very rich and expansive decade.  Now in the face of tougher economic times and the enormous deficit created by the Sask Party’s lack of planning, and poor economic decision making (thank you to the $400 million Lean Program complete with Japanese consultants and sensei)  our Premier is looking for every opportunity.  He just might be the turkey who will cook the golden goose.

Crowns protect Saskatchewan people against the unfettered greed of big business and too much foreign ownership.  Crown ownership permits the people of the province to maintain control of important and profitable assets, it is an assurance of local employment, local head offices, local decision making and the ability to call businesses to account (such as the SaskPower meter fiasco).   A majority of Saskatchewan people still think ownership our Crown corporations and own roads and water is imperative. 

If you feel that Crown ownership is worthwhile and essential then let us stand together and let our government know that we feel strongly about this issue and that our union is on board and providing a plan and leadership.  We are Unifor strong.  

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Busy Signal Wins Award for Excellence

By: Pat Crossman - Chief Steward

CALM is the Canadian Association of Labour Media.  Unifor Local 1-S is a long time member of this organization.  The Communications Committee, The Busy Signal Editor(s) and TBS desktop publisher take advantage of CALM conferences, educational sessions, illustrations and cartoons.

CALM has an annual Conference and Awards Banquet that is used to honour member submissions for excellence and/or creativity in all media such as print, audio, posters, cartoons, short films and video.  The Busy Signal always submits articles and occasionally we even win and this was just one of those occasions. 

Writers fall into one of two categories either professional writing staff or volunteer writers.  We fall into the voluntary writers in a union with more than 1500 members.  That means that we compete against similar organizations.

The Busy Signal submitted individual articles and photos into 8 award categories as well as 2 complete editions.  This spring in Quebec City, The Busy Signal won in the Ed Finn category for excellence in writing that tells a story about a piece of union history. 

This is the statement by the CALM adjudicator that accompanied the award

Pat Crossman, a former operator, before the services became a SecureTek service last year, writes of helping people stranded during extreme weather events, of children making prank calls, but also of feeling disrespected.  Operators couldn’t take personal calls during work, and when the services ended, there was little fanfare for the workers.  In all, it‘s a personal and loving letter.

Nora Loreto, CALM Editor.

The article The Operator Legacy can be found in the Winter 2015 The Busy Signal Volume 33 Issue 4.  Look on our web site at www.uniforlocal1s.ca to find recent issues.

The Busy Signal always welcomes articles written by our members on issues that are strictly SaskTel related or from the wider world of labour concerns and issues related to social justice.  Every TBS issue covers topics ranging from bargaining our recent collective agreement, the annual union picnic, STEPP, privatization of the “Crowns”,  CPP and OH&S issues.

In the past TBS had a regular column called “Ask Rosie”.  It was an opportunity for members to ask union related questions. This column could be resurrected if someone is interested.  TBS is always looking for a source of cartoons.  Cartoons seem to be particularly difficult art form for a magazine of our size to find.  

Congratulations to all The Busy Signal contributors, Pat Crossman, and the acting Editor Gail Sawatzky.  Well done all.

 


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International Day of Mourning


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Retirements




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