The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU/NUPGE) celebrated National Aboriginal Day by marking its service to the province’s Aboriginal community with the addition of two major entities in its membership fold.
Regina (22 June 2015) — Workers who provide health and social development services for the Cowessess First Nation have voted to join Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE), marking the first time a Saskatchewan band has been served by a union.
“That we are the first union to work this closely representing workers in a band is a huge step forward for our whole province and one we’re proud of, especially as we celebrate Aboriginal day,” says SGEU President Bob Bymoen.
Union will provide stability to workplace and service
Donna Shannon grew up on the Cowessess First Nation reserve and later left because of uncertainty in the workplace. She looks forward to the strength and stability a union presence will provide not only for band workers but for their families and the entire community.
“The Aboriginal workforce needs to be recognized as a group of professionals that deserves fair treatment and security just as any other professionals do,” says Shannon who worked as an addictions counselor in the band’s mental health and addictions department.
Recognizing the value of workplace professionals
“We have professionals like myself with the same degrees and certifications our counterparts have in private industry, and yet we have not had any job security or equivalent wages. In any organization, employees are the most valuable asset, and what union representation does is recognize the importance of that asset. It also goes a long way toward standardizing the services we can offer to the whole community, and all our band communities need to count on those services now more than ever," she says.
SGEU/NUPGE has also garnered representation for Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP), an Aboriginal training centre based in La Ronge. NORTEP provides educational and professional training and job placement while promoting Aboriginal culture and languages at the same time.
Warmly welcomed into the union
“We welcome both organizations to our union and look forward to helping them negotiate for improved workplace rights and protections,” says Bymoen.
SGEU/NUPGE stands by its long commitment to the province’s Aboriginal community with initiatives all year long designed to foster a celebration of the culture at the heart of Saskatchewan’s heritage, eliminate archaic stereotypes and racism, and do its part to build strength in First Nations communities across the province.
“We believe a common denominator of all strong and healthy communities is strong labour,” says Bymoen. “It’s time to shine the spotlight on all our Aboriginal professionals in this province and make sure they are treated with dignity and fairness. These two new certifications are a major step in the right direction.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE