In 1945, employees of St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon formed the Building Service Employees International Union (BSEIU) Local 287 in 1945 with seventy-five charter members. A year later Saskatoon City Hospital became BSEIU Local 293. Moose Jaw Union Hospital was organized as Local 299 in 1946; Swift Current became Local 336 in the following year. These two locals worked together for several years, even jointly hiring business agents. Saskatchewan Joint Council, BSEIU #15 was also formed in 1946 and acted as a coordinating body for Saskatchewan locals. Later the three Saskatoon hospital locals amalgamated and became BSEIU 333 and in 1964 the Local 333 University Hospital section became their own Local 333UH. In 1968 the union changed its name to Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In 1972, SEIU began bargaining hospital and nursing home contracts directly with the province. Provincial negotiations were established for nursing home workers with the two employer organizations—Saskatchewan Association of Special Care Homes and Saskatchewan Health-Care Association in 1983. In 1997, the provincial government established the Dorsey Commission which created three new bargaining units in the health sector that reflected the newly reformed health delivery system. The three units were nurses, health service providers and health support practitioners. SEIU represents some of the service providers. In 2000 SEIU Canada became the first Canadian union to receive its own charter, recognizing its independence from the international union. Today, Local 299 represents over 1,950 members in south-central Saskatchewan, Local 333 represents 7,000 workers in north-central Saskatchewan, and Local 336 represents 1,250 in the southwest part of the province. These members work in healthcare, municipalities, school boards, community-based organizations, light industrial, day cares, addictions and group homes, intermediate care homes, Canadian Blood Services and service industries.
Barbara Cape, Tanya Sosulski