A Union Victory

On Tuesday, October 13th, 2015, at 8:30 in the morning, one of our members was fired, purportedly for cause.  The signers of the dismissal letter were Peta Bonham-Smith, then Interim Dean and now Dean of Arts and Science, and Michelle Prytula, Dean of Education.  In their letter to our member, they declared:  “Due to the severity of your conduct in making a discriminatory remark, your employment cannot continue at the university as the employment relationship is irreparable.

This case went to arbitration.  The arbitrator was Shiela Denysiuk, QC.  On September 6, 2017, she wrote:  “For all of the foregoing reasons, I have concluded that the evidence fails to establish just and reasonable cause for any discipline. The grievance is hereby allowed. The dismissal is set aside as being excessive in the circumstances. The University shall immediately reinstate [Denise] McConney and make her whole in all respects, including rights of first refusal.”  Arbitrator Denysiuk added:  “In the event I am wrong in my analysis of the comment, and some discipline is appropriate, I am satisfied that a coaching letter would have been sufficient in the circumstances.”

Witnesses Michelle Prytula and Chris Scribe, Director of ITEP, both made an issue of the conduct of the union representative who took part on the member’s behalf in the investigation meeting  in 2015.  Arbitrator Denysiuk commented on it:  “I am of the view that Zamulinski’s commentary was entirely appropriate in the circumstances. He was there to advocate for McConney. In my view, the offence taken by Scribe at the meeting, and Prytula later, might have prevented them from considering Zamulinski’s comments objectively.”

Arbitrator Denysiuk noted:  “Not every comment that offends is offensive. The test [of offensiveness] requires both an objective and subjective assessment.”

Despite the forthright judgment by the arbitrator, the union is still battling to ensure that our member is made whole.

In the meanwhile, this victory means that we are all somewhat safer from administrators who do not understand labour law.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Brian Zamulinski

President’s Report

Offices, Estoppel, and Fair Representation

Brian Zamulinski



I have heard of more than one case in which sessionals on campus lack office space.  The position taken by the employer constitutes a precedent.  This essentially means that we can request office space on your behalf.  So, if you have not been provided with a place where you can do your work, contact us at cupe3287@gmail.com.


Background to the Arts Grievance

In mid-August 2016, the employer suddenly announced that sessionals who had been housed in Arts 257 and 258 were to be rehoused.

The employer’s first plan was to set up a glorified locker room in 258.

The employer’s second plan was to use 22 carrels in the library with “no more than three” sessionals assigned to each carrel.

Both of these were rejected by the union with strong support from affected members.

There was a grievance hearing attended by a number of grievors on January 16th, 2017.

I presented the grievance.  I took into account everything that had been raised by members – there had been lots of e-mail discussion.  In an e-mail dated January 12th, 2017, I invited interested sessionals to make last minute suggestions.  None were received.

At the grievance hearing itself, after I had made my presentation, attending grievors were asked whether they wished to add anything.  One did.

On February 8th, 2017, the decision was handed down.  What was on offer was the carrels in the library and shared offices in Thorvaldson and McLean Hall.  The offer amounted to a minimum of 48 and a maximum of 57 desks for about 70 sessionals.

This appeared to be good enough that we had a legal obligation to try it out.

The members involved were notified the next day of what had been offered.  They were also informed that they would have to try it out and that we could grieve any deficiencies discovered.

The members involved were later invited to forward any complaints to the union concerning matters that they were unable to settle by discussing them with the responsible administrators.  At this time, no complaints have been received.


Good enough? 

The basis for the grievance was 33.02 of the Collective Agreement, which reads as follows:  “The Employer agrees to provide the necessary resources to sessional lecturers so they may fulfill their teaching duties effectively and with support equivalent to that provided to faculty.”

Some affected members looked at the phrase “with support equivalent to that provided to faculty” and concluded that the deal was not good enough.

But it is necessary to consider the context.  The phrase first appeared in the Collective Agreement in 2010.  There were no grievances filed by either the union or sessionals whose cubicles were in Arts 257 and 258 with respect to office accommodation between 2010 and 2016.  It follows that, by their actions, both the union and the sessionals in 257 and 258 effectively accepted the cubicle arrangement as “support equivalent” with respect to offices.

This means that we are estopped from demanding more in a grievance.  You cannot go along with an arrangement for six years and retain the legal right to challenge it.

Furthermore, while an individual is free to waste time and money on a pointless lawsuit, a union is not.  The interests of all members must be taken into account.

We can try to negotiate something better in the next round of bargaining but we have no way of legally contesting an arrangement that appears to be at least as good as the one it replaced.  In the meantime, we certainly can use the grievance as a precedent to ask for offices for those who have none at all.


Bits of Good News

After arbitration in January and February, an employee who was dismissed in 2015 on the basis of a student complaint has been re-instated and will be compensated for lost pay.

Two potential grievances have been settled informally, preserving the integrity of the Collective Agreement.  Other less serious matters have reached the same conclusion.

We have a new parking officer.  Summer parking usage is up.  Hopefully, this will continue.  We have had too many shortfalls in the past.

We are participating again with the other campus unions in the Pancake Breakfast on September 7th in the Bowl, to which you are all invited.

The employer has agreed to amalgamate the Professional Development and Tuition Waiver Funds.  This permits us to deal with applications flexibly.  The employer deserves a great deal of credit here because we have a collective agreement in place and they did not have to agree to a different arrangement.

Leslie Walter resigned as Vice-President because she has been appointed to a lecturer position.  Joanie Crandall has been elected to succeed her.  Joanie has a steep learning curve ahead of her and needs all our support.



More than 630 representatives from CUPE locals across Canada gathered in Halifax on April 3 – 6, 2017 for a national conference on Building Strong Locals.  Clayton Beish and Joanie Crandall represented CUPE 3287.

Building on the results of a recent national leadership survey that identified the particular strengths, challenges and needs of CUPE locals across the country, the heart of the conference consisted of five half-day workshops focused on building strong, inclusive, accessible and representative Union Locals.

One workshop focused on basic structural concerns – how to organize an effective executive team with diversified responsibilities, how to state policies and communicate them clearly in one’s bylaws, and how to manage record-keeping and organize financial reports.

Another workshop focused on more effectively engaging the members of one’s local through increased personal contacts, regular communication, and building common bonds. Importance was placed on reaching out to new members, providing orientation to union benefits, and encouraging new members to become involved in the union’s activities.

The workshop on building strong leaders within the local expanded upon these themes. People become engaged in union activities for a variety of personal reasons. It is important to understand what motivates them and what will sustain that motivation. Building relationships, encouraging volunteerism, fostering a team spirit, and supporting one another’s contributions are all important to building a strong local.

Yet another workshop focused on building relationships with community allies. Often the best way to tackle a big issue facing a local is to form a coalition and work in solidarity with others in pursuit of a common goal. Conversely, a local should always be looking beyond itself to contribute to the broader community through coalition and solidarity work whenever possible.

The fifth workshop focused on building strength at the bargaining table.  Austerity and privatization are leading to an increase in precarious employment. It reinforced the importance of membership building and creating alliances outside of the local, using resources such as social advocacy software and e-petitions. CUPE National is currently developing additional executive training modules to help build strong local responses to employers in this context.

Conference materials are now available at https://cupe.ca/building-strong-locals-conference-materials.

Respectfully submitted,

Clayton Beish and Joanie Crandall

New Jobs Website and Sessional Postings

To find job postings, go to www.usask.ca.  Click on Jobs.  Click on Current Opportunities.  Click on All Positions in the drop-down menu.  If it asks you whether you are presently employed, say No unless you are under contract.  Scroll down to the Advanced Search option.  Click Employment Category.  Check Sessional Lecturer positions in the drop down menu.  Click the Search icon (the little magnifying glass) on the right.

Deadline for Drug and Dental Plan Claims

If you were teaching in Winter Term 2017 your health benefit coverage ends on April 30 unless you continue to be under contract in Term 1 or Quarter 1 of Spring Session. All drug and dental plan claims must be submitted to Sun Life within 90 days of the end of your teaching appointment.

If you have not already been reimbursed for covered expenses incurred between January 1 and April 30, 2017, a claim for reimbursement must be received by Sun Life on or before July 28, 2017. Log into mySunLife.ca or visit Connection Point’s Knowledge Base for more information.

Postings for Fall and Winter Teaching

Job postings for T1 (Fall) and T2 (Winter) will begin on Wednesday, May 3rd, and will continue weekly thereafter.

The postings are online from about 8:30 am Wednesday until 4:30 pm the following Tuesday.

To find postings, go to www.usask.ca.  Click on Jobs.  Click on current opportunities.  Click on All Positions in the drop-down menu.  If it asks you whether you are presently employed, say No unless you are under contract.  Scroll down to the Advanced Search option.  Click Employment Category.  Check Sessional Lecturer positions in the drop down menu.  Click the Search icon (the little magnifying glass.)

Although courses should be posted well before the start of term, last-minute postings do occur, so make a habit of checking for new posts each week.

You can also submit an early application for courses offered by your department. It’s the same form, just tick the early application box at the top. List the courses you would like to teach, in order of preference, even if you are not certain the course is to be taught on a sessional basis. If the department decides to hire a sessional at the last minute, you’ve already applied! If you want to be considered for any and all courses offered by your department, include that statement on the application.

2016 AGM and Elections

The 2016 Annual General Meeting was held on December 8, 2016 at the University Club. An end-of-term supper was held afterwards.

The new Executive elected for 2017 is:

Brian Zamulinski – President

Leslie Walter – Vice President

Rhonda Anderson – Recording Secretary

Clayton Beish – Secretary-Treasurer

Newsletter Editor – Margaret Gail Osachoff

Members-at-large – Heather Wagg

Bill Rafoss, Lisa Broda, Mary Nordick, and Joanie Crandall.

Thanks to everyone who came out!

Sessionals Note: New Health Benefits!!

Summary of the New Health, Dental and

Life Insurance Employer Proposal Eligibility

University of Saskatchewan employees in-scope of CUPE 3287 who are not eligible under the university’s other benefits programs.

Commencement of Coverage

 Effective September 1, 2016 coverage begins on the initial appointment date as stated in the letter of offer.


  1. Basic Life Insurance
  • Basic Life Insurance $30,000 during the course of the appointment(s)
  1. Dental Benefits
  • Dental Coverage – 100% of Basic Dental Coverage, member only, up to $2000 per calendar year Basic Dental Services include:
  • Preventative Dental Procedures
    • Complete exam once every three benefit years
    • Recall exam once every five months, to a maximum of two exams per benefit year
    • Emergency or specific exams limited to two per benefit year per type of exam
    • Complete series of X-rays or one panorex once every three benefit years
    • Bitewing x-ray once every five months, to a maximum of two sets per benefit year
    • Radiograph to diagnose or examine progress
    • Required consultations with another dentist
    • Polishing/cleaning and topical fluoride treatment every five months, to a maximum of two per benefit year
    • Emergency or palliative services
    • Diagnostics tests and lab exams
    • Removal of impacted teeth and anesthesia
    • Space maintainers for primary teeth
    • Pit and fissure sealants
    • Oral hygiene instruction once per benefit year
  • Basic Procedures
    • Fillings:
      • Amalgam (silver)
      • Composite (white) on all teeth o   Acrylic (replaced by composite)
    • Removal of teeth (except impacted teeth)
    • Prefab metal restorations/crowns and repairs (not custom made) A prefabricated crown that is intended for long-term use (and not in conjunction with the placement of a permanent crown) would be eligible under the plan
    • Endodontics (root canal therapy/fillings, treat disease of pulp tissue)
    • Periodontics (treatment of bone and gum disease)
    • Surgery and related anesthesia (except removal of impacted teeth)
    • Repair of bridges or dentures
    • Rebase or reline denture
  • Pre-treatment Plan

If your dentist recommends any dental procedure that is expected to cost over $500 you should have your dentist complete a pre-treatment plan. Submit this plan to the insurer and you will be advised of the benefits payable for the course of treatment. Submitting a pre-treatment plan ensures that there are no misunderstandings about what reimbursement you will received for expensive courses of treatment.

  1. Health/Drug Coverage
  • Drug Coverage for you and your dependents -100% coverage for up to a maximum of $2000 per person per calendar year subject to the drug formulary.
  • Direct pay drug card, with mandatory generic substitutions.
  1. Note: Termination of Coverage

 Coverage will cease upon the end date of the appointment as stated in the letter of offer.

For more information, contact Connections Point.