President's Message

President’s Message

President Curtis Larson

We are over halfway through term 1 of the 2020-21 academic year and more than 8 months along dealing with the pandemic with most of us still working from home. As I am writing this the province is experiencing rising COVID-19 positive cases across the province with Saskatoon being particularly hard hit. The province also has announced mandatory mask wearing in all public indoor spaces for the city until at least November 28, something those of you that have been coming on campus have been doing since the beginning of September. I hope all of you are keeping well and taking the time to stay healthy both physically and mentally, as the stress and anxiety of the pandemic, working from home, social isolation, etc. can be overwhelming at times. Remember to make the effort to reach out to talk to people and access the many resources we have available to us through programs like the employee and family assistance program or just talking to a trusted co-worker or friend to get a different perspective on an issue that you may be dealing with.

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ASPA Updates

Grievance Update

ASPA continues to have several open grievances, eighteen (18) to be exact.  To date, of those eighteen (18); ten (10) were filed in 2020.  This compares to the eight (8) and nineteen (19) filed in 2019 and 2018, respectively.  We have however over the recent months been able to resolve a few the grievances related to the Employer’s failure to deduct Association dues.  Many of these grievances have been resolved by having positions moved within the scope of ASPA that were not previously in any bargaining unit.  The theme of the other bulk of our grievances relate to the assertion that the employer has wrongfully laid off a member.

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Member Highlights

ASPA Member Highlight – Nicole Benning, Research Support Specialist, Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives, University of Saskatchewan

Written by Karen E. Mosier

Nicole has been on campus since 1991 when she started a job in the Department of Plant Sciences as a Research Assistant. In 1999, she received her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Agricultural Biology Major with Minor in Microbiology) and a Bachelor of Science in Biology both from the University of Saskatchewan. In November 2004, she accepted a position as a Grants Officer in Research Services. This position has changed in job title and office name, to her current position as Research Support Specialist housed within Connection Point but reporting to RASI (Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives).   

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Member Interest Articles

Cyber Terrorists

Cyberattack on SaskPolytech
On Saturday, Saskatchewan Polytechnic reported a “service disruption” affecting their website, intranet portal, VPN and other operating platforms and online services. The warning, however, added that “it is important that you do not use your computer to access the network or services using a VPN connection,” and that email should only be accessed using a cellphone. Clearly this was more than equipment failure.

On Sunday, SaskPoly clarified that it had been the target of a “cybersecurity incident” and was working with outside experts and law enforcement to assess its extent. All online and in-person applied classes were cancelled for Nov 2-4, and “Our first priority is to restore the online learning environment for students” (Brightspace).

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Labour in the News

University of Manitoba Faculty Association’s bargaining unit to hold strike vote

By Shane Gibson  Global NewsPosted October 29, 2020 5:49 pm Updated October 29, 2020 5:52 pm

The union representing faculty at the University of Manitoba is moving one step closer to a strike at the province’s largest post-secondary institution.

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2020 University of Saskatchewan Staff Excellence Award

ASPA member Nicole Benning, Research Support Specialist, Research Services and Ethics Office, is the 2020 recipient of the University Staff Excellence Award winner. This award recognizes staff members who have achieved excellence while demonstrating dedication and commitment to the university’s Mission, Vision and Values and support of the University Plan 2025. Along with a certificate, she will receive a $1,000 prize. Congratulations to Nicole for her outstanding contributions to the university community.

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Door Prize Winners

Congratulations to Our Winners!

A big thank you to everyone that took the time to attend our ASPA Brown Bag lunches. The winners of our door prizes are as follows:

Ergonomic Brown Bag – September 28, 2020

  • Jacqueline Chometa Keele
  • Della Toews
  • Colleen Cochran

Sun Life Brown Bag – October 29, 2020

  • Kira Penny
  • Dawn Giesbrecht
  • Erin Akins

Angeline Hainstock will mail out the prizes to the winners. Stay tuned for future ASPA Brown Bag luncheons and more opportunities to win door prizes.

The ASPA Communications Committee

Bargaining Updates

ASPA Collective Agreement Vote Results

The results of the vote for the new collective agreement are in and the membership voted 92.5% in favour of accepting the agreement so it has now been ratified by the membership. 978 members out of a possible 1317 participated in the vote which is a great participation rate and speaks to how engaged all of you were through this process and as I have said before, this sends a strong message to administration that you care about what happens at the university and will put ASPA in a strong position in the next round of bargaining. I want to thank all of you for your feedback during the information sessions and for those who emailed us throughout, we listened to all of you and while not everyone will be happy with the results your feedback will be taken into consideration by the executive when we enter the next round of bargaining in just over 18 months.

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