President's Message

President’s Message

Hello everyone!  

I’m very excited to share that ASPA and CUPE 1975 have joined together and approached The Canadian Mental Health Association to develop a partnership to support and create awareness for our members who have been struggling with mental health challenges the last number of months.

Our goal is to create awareness and acceptance at a higher level for those people who are battling mental health issues and promote the services available to our members and their families at the University of Saskatchewan as well as The Canadian Mental Health Association.

As part of this multiyear initiative, we will be selling bold green t-shirts with our logos on the shirt, for $10 a shirt, with all the money going to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Saskatoon Branch. The University offers many forms of help thru EFAP and Lumino (SunLife), but the challenge for our Unions, along with People Resources, is to convince someone that they should access these services.

Our joint committee is very enthused and committed to making change. We all see the need for this. We have many thoughts and ideas to move this along.  More details will be coming out soon so please watch your email and for us around campus very soon.

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

Our Member Services Office, Darcy Hryn-Bird, has left her position as of April 1st. Darcy had been with us since 2013 as ASPA’s first Member Services Officer.  She played an integral role in advocating for our members’ rights. During her time with us Darcy provided immensely valuable support and guidance through our bargaining process. She provided much needed information to the membership on all aspects of the collect agreement and their rights by creating a series of Did You Know articles and provided information sessions, in addition to hundreds of one-on-one meetings. Her vast knowledge and passion for labour relations was evidenced by her ability to help advance ASPA’s objectives with the employer.   

Please join me in wishing Darcy, (her husband and dog Gromit!), all the best. 

We are currently conducting interviews for a new Member Services Office, however, in the meantime, please contact our general office and your request will go to one of the presidents. We will get back to you right away.

General Office

The physical ASPA Office has re-opened and our Administrative Assistant, Angeline Hainstock, is on campus Monday – Friday, in Kirk Hall, room 304 (8:30am – 4:30pm). You can contact us any time on 306.966.2471 or by email at aspa@aspasask.ca. Or if you are in the area please feel to pop by to see where the office is and say hi!

ASPA Awards

Some of the items we are working on are preparation for the AGM and the ASAP 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.

Overview of Membership Numbers

  • September 2020: 1313 Members
  • As of November 2021: 1401 Members
  • As of March 1, 2022: 1445 Members

So far in 2022, we have only seen one layoff.  This and the fact our numbers are so high may be directly related to the increasing number of us coming back in-person (on-campus) and getting back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is).

Upcoming Bargaining

Our current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires on April 30, 2022, and following the rules governing the timing of bargaining, ASPA notified the University in early February that we wish to negotiate a new agreement.  Though we anticipate that it is very unlikely that the employer will meet with us before September, the Bargaining Team is already hard at work preparing for the bargaining sessions. This work includes compiling the results from the recent member surveys, which are a crucial tool for the team to understand what is important to the members and what items are priorities on which the team should focus. 

The Bargaining Team has been established and I’m happy to share that the team will consist of the following individuals, in no particular order: 

LaVina Watts (ASPA President), Alexis Dahl (Co-Team Lead), Hugh Wagner, (Co-Team Lead), Candice Pete, Ken Glover, Bethany Godhe-Knight, Kerry O’Shea, and the ASPA Member Services Officer.   

ASPA held a couple of lunch and learns on Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement. The January 11th recording of the session has been posted on the website if you missed it. This session covered topics such as:

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

Standing Committee Updates

Research Committee

The role and function of the ASPA Research Committee is to develop and implement a member survey plan in support of the dynamic and changing needs of the ASPA Executive, Bargaining Team, and other committees as requested. Between April 2021 and April 2022, the Research Committee discussed several survey topics, and initiated the following surveys. Thank you to all ASPA members who took the time to respond to the surveys.

  • ASPA Lunch and Learn Sessions
  • ASPA Pension Survey
  • Return to Work Survey
  • Work Arrangements Survey
  • Collective Agreement Pre-Bargaining Survey
  • Collective Agreement Member Perspectives Survey

Future anticipated surveys will focus on questions that emerge from the present Collective Agreement and bargaining process; on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI); on present and future work arrangements; and others.

Communications and Public Relations

We conducted our regular review of the 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 committee reviews and provides information to the ASPA membership regarding upcoming union related educational opportunities, such as conferences and workshops. The majority of these educational opportunities are provided through the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL). The committee has also been busy planning and coordinating the ASPA Lunch and Learn Sessions and are currently planning and organizing a Session on the Bargaining Process. The session topics are guided by what members have indicated they would like to learn more about through surveys.

Finance Committee – ASPA Standing Committee

The committee continues to meet monthly and is working with the Auditor to finalizing the reports for the AGM. They are also focusing their attention on our financial investment strategy with respect to the upcoming bargaining.

Social Committee

The purpose of the ASPA Social Committee is to plan and execute social events to help ASPA members build a community and promote a culture of belonging, engagement, and fun among all members.

Between April 2021 and April 2022, the Social Committee hosted the following virtual events:

  • Book Club and Book Read – Soft Skills and Professional Tips for the Office: One of ASPA’s own talented members, Karen Mosier, introduced her writing experience and shared her expertise on how to build good working relationships with co-workers and colleagues. 35 people participated the event, and 4 won the prize draw.
  • Summer Photo Contest: 40 ASPA members entered the contest. 10 were voted as winners.
  • Book Club – Monkey Beach: 5 people attended the events and there were 4 prize draw winners.
  • Virtual Magic Show: Nearly 50 ASPA members and their families and friends attended the event. There were 4 prize draw winners.
  • Social Events Follow-up Survey: The Social Committee conducted 2 follow-up surveys between April 2021 and April 2022 to collect feedback and ideas for future social activities. 61 participants filled out the Virtual Tai Chi class follow-up survey, and 30 participants filled out the Virtual Magic Show follow-up survey.

Upcoming events:

  • Virtual Paint Night (April 9, 2022)
  • Remai Modern Gallery Tour and Riverside Walk (May 2022)
  • Summer Outdoor Movie at Kinsmen Park (June 25, 2022)
  • Forest Farm Park BBQ (August 9, 2022)
  • The Annual Photo Contest (Summer 2022)
  • Cooking Video: Sharing Culture Through Food (Spring and Summer 2022)
  • Prairie Lily Boat Ride (Fall Term 2022)
  • Pizza Social (Fall Term 2022)

I want to take this opportunity to send out a huge thanks to our social committee volunteers and the ASPA staff support. The committee members take time out of their busy schedules to plan and organize all of the events. We could not do these events without them.

Social Justice Committee

This past year the SJC worked with the research committee to create a pre-bargaining survey specific to racism, discrimination and harassment that was sent out in February. There was a general pre-bargaining survey that was sent to members in January, and this second survey  was intended to  dive deeper into member issues..

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

Typically this group meets  quarterly. At our meetings the University presents statistics about who is using the service (union breakdowns) and which services.   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

We continue to have several outstanding grievances from 2020 & 2021 that we are awaiting arbitration decisions on.  ASPA was recently successful at another wrongful layoff grievance.  The arbitrator has ordered that our member be reinstated.

In solidarity,

LaVina Watts, ASAP President (2021 – 2022)