July President’s Message

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Dawn Giesbrecht

“Never a dull moment.” This is how I can best sum up the last two months since I started as ASPA President. By now you should have heard that the U and ASPA have reached an impasse in bargaining. In an effort to keep our members well in- formed, here is a little of what I know.First, I would like to take this time to thank ASPA’s bargaining team. The team is led by Ken Glover and Jim Coller. They are joined by Chloe Corcoran, Paola Chiste, and assisted by Darcy Hryn and Annetta Gellner. They have all worked hard and put in countless hours to put together a package deal that balances the needs of our membership with the requests of the university. As you can imagine, this is no easy feat.I officially joined the bargaining team in late May. While I had been told that it was proving to be a difficult process, I honestly had no idea how challenging. I joined our ASPA team for two days of dis- cussion following the university’s offer to settle that they presented on May 11th. We, as a team, spent a great deal of time deliberating over the points of their offer to massage it into something accept- able to our members. As a result, we drafted our own package deal and presented it to the university on June 9th.
Our next meeting was set for June 12th. In that meeting the uni- versity told ASPA that we stay in our jobs too long. You can imag- ine our shock. I didn’t realize that it was a goal of the university to have us leave our jobs. It has been my understanding that employee retention was a goal of any employer. Even going back to my first job as a teenager, I understood that it is far less expensive to keep an employee than it is to have to hire a new one. That has not changed. There are many articles written on this very topic. If for no other reason than money, it is better to retain an employee than to have to hire a new one.They also came back with a “Best and Final Offer to Settle”. Very little had changed from their previous proposal and next to nothing had been incorporated from ours. It didn’t take us long to see that this was not in the best interest of our members and as a result turned it down. They did ask us to ruminate on it but we could only let it churn around so long before saying no.The cost of living in Saskatoon has gone up 2.5% in the last year alone and our property taxes are set to go up once again. With an offer of 0%, 0% and 2.25%, we are losing ground even with a small signing bonus. The two parties are too far apart in expec- tations and are at an impasse. We are now mandated under The Saskatchewan Employment Act to go to mediation. Both par- ties have requested mediation and we await a response from the Minister of Education, Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.We appreciate the outpouring of support from our members. Keep your comments and questions coming. Any and all feed- back is appreciated.

December President’s Message

Paola Christie

Paola Chiste

One of my favourite childrens’ stories is called “Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear” about a woman who is run off her feet with all the chores she must do before the advent of winter when, in an act of final desperation, she throws a teapot over her husband’s head as he has been the one assigning all the tasks. I’m starting to sympathize with  Mary more and more these days (not the husband part fortunately). The list of things I need to get done seems to be growing, despite my best efforts to minimize it.

The recent Service Delivery Survey that apparently many of you have not filled out, has started me thinking about the work I actually do as opposed to the work I am supposed to do, as per my job description. Is what I get done during the day the important tasks or is it the low-lying fruit that I can easily get done between meetings and satisfy my need for a sense of accomplishment?  How many assignments are given to us to fulfill the administrative needs of the University, as opposed to my position accountabilities? When will I find time to plan my projects? Schedule my time? Do research? Manage in a meaningful way? Mentor junior staff?

Is anyone else feeling the same way? If you are, I’d love to hear from you and start a dialogue on what “work” looks like for ASPA members and how well we are managing with all the things that need to get done. What pressures are you feeling? Are you doing what you should be doing? Are you pulled in different directions? Do you have direction? Perhaps there are some solutions that we can come to and make the workplace a better place for ASPA members.

On that note, the holiday season will soon be upon us and the ASPA Executive and Staff would like to wish you a safe, happy, and most importantly, restful holiday.