President's Message

President’s Message

Hello everyone and happy holidays! Now that we find ourselves at the end of another term of mostly working remotely, I am sure many of you may agree that we are all hoping 2022 brings us closer to something a bit normal – even if that is a new normal. With the new vaccine mandates for campus, extension of the provincial masking policy to the end of January, and compliance requirements here on campus, it is looking as this will be another long and weary winter. And, as we have throughout all of this, we are doing this together – so you are not alone! 

The critical work we do here in ASPA – helping members, meeting with administration, bargaining, arbitrations, consultations, research, and committee work – has not stopped throughout the pandemic. Now in our 21st month of working remotely, at least for many of us, and with what seems like endless virtual meetings, crushing deadlines and no end to workloads, I wanted to take this opportunity to share how proud I am to be serving all of you.

This time of year can difficult (at the best of times!) so please be sure to take good care of yourselves and if you are having difficulties please reach out to a family member, friend, co-worker, or access one of our benefit providers (EFAP, Lumino, etc).  https://wellness.usask.ca/resources.php We are all in this together.

ASPA Updates

General Office

The physical ASPA Office has re-opened with reduced days. Our Administrative Assistant, Angeline Hainstock, will be on campus Monday – Wednesday, in Kirk Hall, room 304 and will work remotely on Thursday and Fridays (8:30am – 4:30pm on all days). You can contact us any time on 306.966.2471 or by email at aspa@aspasask.ca.

Our Member Services Office, Darcy Hryn-Bird, will be working remotely, however is available for meetings both virtually and in-person (if required). If you would like to meet with Darcy, please contact her directly at darcy@aspasask.ca .

Some of the items we are working on are preparation for the AGM and the ASPA service awards. If you were a recipient of an award and have not had a chance to pick yours up yet, please contact Angeline directly at angeline@aspasask.ca

Membership

Since my last report, the ASPA membership has not changed too much but we are 1400+ members strong. These numbers give us some good power as we go into the next round of bargaining. Of course, membership numbers do fluctuate over the course of the year with the hiring of seasonal and casual employees during the busier academic months but overall, our numbers have stayed strong.

Overall Membership Numbers:

  • September 2020: 1313 Members
  • As of November 2021: 1401 Members

In the last few months there have been only a few layoffs, but nowhere near the numbers we were experiencing this time last year. It may be due to increased levels of activity being planned in the new year. As a reminder, the University reserves the right to direct their workforce as they see fit, and while ASPA does not have the authority to intervene on who, or how many, members get laid off, our Member Services Officer, or one of the presidents, are at all layoffs to ensure that our member’s rights are not violated with respect to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Upcoming Bargaining

As you know, our current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires in April 2022, and we will notify the University in early February that we wish to negotiate a new agreement (as per the CBA). We reached out to the membership in September to seek out those who may have an interest in being on the Bargaining Team or to learn more about the bargaining process. We had a great response to this call and have met with this group a few times and had a 2-day Bargaining workshop facilitated by Scott Walsworth from ESB at the beginning of December. At this workshop we had a more in-depth discussion on negotiations and a simulation of what it is like to be at the bargaining table. The Presidents will be finalizing the bargaining team in February.

The Bargaining Survey will be going out to the membership in January. This a crucial tool for the Bargaining Team to better understand what is important to the members and what priorities you would like the team to focus on. I strongly encourage all of you to complete the survey and please contact us if you have any questions about it.

Plan to attend one of these sessions if you have questions about what is in our collective agreement, what benefits are available to you, and what your rights are, especially as we head into a bargaining year.    

ASPA has scheduled a couple of lunch and learns on Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement. The first was held on November 29th and the next on January 11th. These sessions are open to the entire membership. Details of the session below:

In addition, these sessions will provide our members an opportunity, in a safe environment, to ask us questions. If you have a question at any time, you can send them to:  darcy@aspasask.ca   

This session will cover topics such as:  

  • What the Collective Agreement is 
  • Hours of Work and Scheduling  
  • Leave Entitlements  
  • Professional Fees  
  • Wages and Benefits  

View the Collective Agreement here: https://aspasask.ca/collective-agreement/ 

Both Lunch and Learn sessions will be facilitated by ASPA’s Member Service Officer, Darcy Hryn-Bird via Zoom.

The second session will be held: January 11, 2022, from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm.    

Standing Committee Updates

Research Committee

The Research Committee is taking steps to inform the bargaining process through membership surveys, and to guide future remote/hybrid work arrangements.

Communications and Public Relations

We conducted our regular review of monthly ASPA Activities Calendar for planning purposes going forward e.g., November/ December/January. ASPA Presidents and other committee members will meet with representatives from CUPE 1975 to have an initial discussion on how our two unions can create joint campaign and message to promote Mental Health for all our members.

Education Committee

The Education Committee is currently planning and organizing future Lunch and Learn Sessions for our members.  The next Lunch and Learn Session, “Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement,” will be held on January 11, 2022.  We will also be sending out information to our members regarding future SFL events. 

Finance Committee – ASPA Standing Committee

The committee continues to meet monthly and is preparing the budget for 2022-23. They are also focusing their attention on our financial investment strategy with respect to the upcoming bargaining.

Social Committee

The ASPA Social Committee is happy to announce our Holiday Magic Show! The show will be an all-ages event held virtually via Zoom.  Matt Gore, also known as the Ginger Ninja, is a local full-time Magician who has been creating magic for 15 years. He is also the current ‘FISM Africa Magician Champion’. The show will be held December 18, 2021 @ 6:30pm.

Social Justice Committee

The SJC are working with the research committee to create a pre-bargaining survey specific to racism, discrimination and harassment that will be send out in February. There will be a general pre-bargaining survey that will be sent to members in January, and this is a second topic specific survey in February with plans for more topic specific pre-bargaining surveys to dive deep into member issues of the winter and spring.

Employee and Family Assistance Program – ASPA has a representative on this joint committee.

We are supposed to meet quarterly where the University presents statistics about who is using the service (union breakdowns) and what service.   In March we were told that the university was going to look at replacing the current provider with a new one.  The RFP went to tender this summer and a new provider (LifeWorks) won the process.

Member Services

ASPA only filed three grievances in 2021.  We continue to have several outstanding grievances from 2020 that we are awaiting arbitration decisions on.  ASPA was successful, however, at another wrongful layoff grievance whereby the employer laid a member off and then proceeded to post a position that encompassed most of those members work at a lower phase.  The arbitrator has ordered that our member be reinstated.

University News

The Presidents and the Member Services Officer continue to meet with the employer regularly to discuss a wide range of ongoing issues. We meet with AVP Cheryl Carver and Colin Weimer, Manager, Labour Relations each month for an update from the Pandemic Response Team. At our last meeting, the discussion was around what the Winter Term will look like with respect to vaccine mandates and accommodations for medical and under Human Rights grounds.

There appears to be three or four projects being conducted simultaneously and we are told that they are not informing the other, however ASPA will be monitoring all these projects closely. The projects are: Uniforum Benchmarking Project, Administrative Services Analysis Project, Integrated Services Project, and Future of Work. The UniForum survey results were set to be released in November however we have not seen anything to report.

Remote or Hybrid Work in Winter Term

The university released its Remote Work Request and Proposal agreement process; however, we are hearing from members that increased units are being mandated back to campus without much in the way of discussion. For members who feel some or all their jobs can be done remotely on a regular and ongoing bases once we return to campus, please connect with your supervisors as soon as they can on what this might look like for you and your unit. We have been told that ALL requests will be heard, so if you or a colleague have any questions or feel a request has been unreasonably denied please contact the ASPA office to see if we can assist in some way.

As always, my ‘door’ is always open so please let me know if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about something you see that is happening on campus. (lavina@aspasask.ca )

In solidarity,

LaVina Watts, ASAP President (2021 – 2022)