HSAS Bargaining Update - May 6, 2015

Bargaining Updates

HSAS Bargaining Update - May 6, 2015


On behalf of health employers across the province, SAHO has applied to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board to conduct a vote among HSAS members to provide employees the opportunity to review a final offer that SAHO believes to be fair and equitable.

Q:  Why has SAHO requested that a vote be conducted by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board?

A:   After extensive and inconclusive bargaining, SAHO believes employees should be allowed to review the final offer.

Under section 6-35(1) of The Saskatchewan Employment Act, a union, an employer or a significant group of employees can request that a vote be conducted on an offer.

SAHO believes in the equity of this offer:

- 6.5% compensation over 4 years and enhanced premiums
- Comparable to other recent healthcare settlements
- Consistent with Western Canadian averages

Negotiations between SAHO and HSAS had reached a stalemate, so the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board process allows employees to independently vote on SAHO’s final offer. Votes will be mailed to employees during the week of May 4, 2015.

Q: What does the SAHO final offer propose for retroactivity?

A:  SAHO’s proposal offers 20 months of retroactivity to be paid to HSAS employees. The HSAS collective agreement expired 25 months ago and bargaining has been ongoing for 20 months. SAHO provided HSAS with a notice over 13 months ago, on March 12, 2014, that retroactivity would cease to accumulate on September 12, 2014. The date was extended by two months to November 12, 2014.

Q: Why is there a proposed cap on professional fees?

A:   Professional fees are determined by regulatory associations that are outside the control of the employer. Past fee increases have gone up by as much as 20% in a single year for some classifications. The cap on fees seeks a reasonable amount for fees, and can be renegotiated each agreement. This provides employers with some stability, while making professional bodies accountable to their members when determining fees.

Q:  Why has bargaining taken 20 months?

A:  The HSAS collective agreement expired on March 31, 2013:

- Initial proposals were exchanged on August 26-27, 2013
- 18 bargaining sessions followed over the course of 20 months, with the last being held on April 27-28, 2015
- A final offer was tabled on September 26, 2014, with the provision that small adjustments would be considered
- HSAS countered the final offer on October 8, 2014
- SAHO addressed the counter-offer at the table, indicating that the HSAS counter- offer was too far apart from SAHO’s final offer to constitute a small adjustment
- HSAS said they would respond after consideration, which led to a 3 month delay
- SAHO re-tabled the final offer on January 29, 2015
- In an effort to move toward an agreement, SAHO’s final offer, reflecting minor adjustments, was presented on April 10, 2015
- April 27, 2015, SAHO again confirmed at the table that it was a final offer
- In total, 38 days of bargaining were conducted, with HSAS rejecting
- SAHO’s final offer concluding bargaining on April 27, 2015

The following information clarifies recent bargaining updates by HSAS that include imprecise information.

Q: What happens if the final offer is rejected?

A:  HSAS states that if the final offer is rejected then ‘a better agreement must be negotiated.’ Should the final offer be rejected by HSAS members, the parties would continue to be at an impasse. Negotiations may begin again; however, with no obligation for SAHO to return to the bargaining table with an increased proposal.

Q:  If SAHO’s offer is accepted, what would that mean for any future negotiations with SAHO?

A:  HSAS has falsely claimed that “representatives of SAHO have said that it is the plan for future rounds of negotiations to claw back provisions/entitlements that are currently in the collective agreement.”

There is no plan to begin methodically clawing back gains from the collective agreements. This was not something that was communicated at the bargaining table.  

Q:  Is SAHO trying to push employees to a strike?

A:  SAHO never wants to see employees on strike, although there is concern given the history of HSAS negotiations:

- Rotating strikes in 2011
- Job action in 2007
- The longest healthcare strike in Saskatchewan’s history in 2002

An appointed provincial mediator was unsuccessful in reaching an agreement during the current round of bargaining, leading to HSAS requesting that a bargaining impasse be declared on July 8, 2014.

SAHO’s desire is to put the final offer to an informed employee vote, before employers, employees, patients and families may be potentially affected by a labour disruption.

Q:  How does the offer affect market adjustments/supplements?

A:  All market adjustments or supplements that are currently in place will remain.

The wage increase of 6.5% over 4 years would be applied to the base wage, and the existing market adjustment or supplement would be added to the new base rate.

Withdrawn Proposals

HSAS bargaining updates claim that three proposals were refused by SAHO related to professional leave, parking and proposal 15.04 (a) all OT at 2x the hourly rate.

The proposals in question were withdrawn by the HSAS bargaining committee, with parking no longer reflected in the HSAS counter-proposal dated October 8, 2014 and professional leave and 2x the hourly rate for OT no longer included in the HSAS counter-proposal dated February 27, 2015.  


HSAS has reported that SAHO was responsible for a delay from October 8, 2014 to January 28, 2015, claiming there had been no response from SAHO on the HSAS counter-proposal of October 8, 2014.

SAHO addressed the HSAS counter-proposal at the table on October 8, 2014, stating that the counter-proposal was at significant variance from SAHO’s final offer and did not constitute a minor adjustment. HSAS indicated they would respond at a later date. SAHO contacted HSAS on November 28, 2014 when no further communication had been received from HSAS. At that time, HSAS indicated they would contact SAHO in mid-January. This accounts for the 3 month delay that HSAS erroneously attributes to SAHO.  SAHO re-tabled the final offer on January 29, 2015.

An Unacceptable Offer?

HSAS has repeatedly positioned SAHO’s final offer as being one that would be rejected by employees as an unacceptable offer. By applying for a vote through the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board, each employee is given the opportunity to review the offer
to inform their decision when voting. Although the vote is portrayed as being
‘forced,’ that does not equate to an employee being ‘forced’ to vote in a
particular manner.

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