ANOTHER PROBLEM SOLVED: We have a temporary resolution to the grievance over denial of sick leave benefits to members age 65 and older

In March GSU filed an executive grievance with Richardson Pioneer over the denial of sick leave benefits to employees age 65 or older.

“The grievance has been making its way through the process and seemed to be headed for arbitration after a meeting with Company management earlier this month,” said GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner. “A last minute discussion with management resulted in a temporary and without prejudice resolution where union members aged 65 or older who require sick leave will be able to draw on the sick leave they had in the bank when they turned age 65.”

“The temporary resolution is intended to give both sides an opportunity to discuss and attempt to bargain a more permanent understanding when we head to the agreement renewal bargaining table in summer or early autumn,” Wagner said. “Without prejudice means that neither side is giving up their argument or weakening their legal position in the event the matter can’t be resolved and is sent to an arbitrator for determination.”

“The temporary resolution to this issue lasts until GSU and Richardson reach an agreement on the subject or December 31, 2021,” said Wagner. “Hopefully this helps affected members out of a bind. If they continue to experience problems I urge them to contact GSU.”

Further reports will be made when the parties begin agreement renewal bargaining later this year.

Mayo Schmidt named president, CEO of Nutrien

The board of directors of Nutrien Ltd. has appointed Mayo Schmidt as president and chief executive officer effective April 18, 2021. Mr. Schmidt was serving as chair of Nutrien’s board of directors since May 2019. He had previously joined the board of Agrium in 2012.

Many GSU members will recall Mr. Schmidt’s tenure as CEO of Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and then Viterra before departing after the Glencore takeover.

“Congratulations to Mr. Schmidt on being named to his new position,” said GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner. “We look forward to a fruitful collective bargaining relationship with Nutrien Ag Solutions.“

More information is available here.

Understanding aggregate salary increases at Viterra and Nutrien

By GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner

Around this time each year, GSU receives numerous contacts from union members working for Nutrien and Viterra complaining that they received a salary increase that is lower than the X percent aggregate salary increase referred to in the collective agreements with their employer. 

While employees are justifiably upset that their salary increases are too low, it is important to remember that the collective agreements with Nutrien and Viterra refer to aggregate  salary increases of X percent.  

What this means is that the overall total salary increase must be the agreed upon percentage of payroll, but it does not mean that each individual employee will receive a salary increase equal to that percentage figure.

For example:

Imagine a work unit in which there are two employees and the employees in the unit are promised an aggregate salary increase of 2 percent. In this example employee “A” receives a salary increase of 3 percent and employee “B” receives a salary increase of 1 percent. While each employee received a salary increase different than 2 percent, the aggregate salary increase of the two-employee unit in this example is 2 percent (i.e. 3 + 1 divided by 2 = 2%).

This is one of the numerous bad features of the so-called pay for performance system that came as a plague on Viterra employees in 2008 and was adopted by Nutrien in 2013. GSU’s leadership vigorously warned about this negative feature of Viterra’s bargaining proposals and final offer at the time of the 2008 collective bargaining dispute and strike at Viterra.

In the absence of sufficient support to maintain the strike action commenced by Local 2 members of Viterra’s Regina head office, and a handful of Local 1 Viterra Operations and Maintenance members, GSU was not able to block the incursion of the so-called pay for performance pay system and its aggregate salary increase. Since then, GSU has proposed to end the unfair system whenever bargaining with Nutrien and Viterra, but so far we’ve not succeeded.

One day we will reform this broken pay system, but only if union members band together and make it a priority they are prepared to fight for, even if that means walking the picket line until the job is done.

Local 14 (Richardson), Local 15 (Nutrien) board members meet, receive Local updates, elect officers

GSU Local 14 (Richardson Pioneer) and Local 15 (Nutrien) delegates met separately via Zoom on Feb. 3 to elect the Locals’ representatives to GSU’s Joint Executive Council (board of directors). Reports on Local issues were also given.

In addition, Local 14 delegates had a preliminary discussion about preparing for agreement renewal bargaining this coming autumn and a late summer/early autumn delegates meeting geared to prepare for agreement renewal bargaining with Richardson Pioneer. Members at the Local 14 meeting also received an update on paid sick leave for employees age 65 or older. A decision on that matter is pending.

Congratulations to the following newly elected officers on GSU’s Joint Executive Council:

  • Local 14 (Richardson) Jerid Clark (White City), Justin Shauf (Langenburg).
  • Local 15 (Nutrien) Brian Cowan, Curtis Cousins, Lynn Shaw, David Jones.

Draft version of new collective agreement available online to Local 15 (Nutrien) members

The draft version of the new Local 15 (Nutrien) collective agreement is now available on GSU’s web page at  under the Collective Agreements
 tab. It incorporates the provisions from the Memorandum of Settlement that GSU Local 15 (Nutrien) members voted to accept this past fall.  

This draft has been sent to company representatives for review, approval and signature. Once the final agreed-upon version of the new agreement has been signed by both parties, GSU will print collective agreement booklets and deliver them to members. In the meantime, GSU members have access to a copy to review and work with.

“We appreciate your patience as we finalize your collective agreement and commit to getting this done as soon as practicably possible,” union bargaining spokesperson and GSU staff rep Dale Markling said in his Jan. 11 email to Local 15 members. “As always, if members have any questions about their new collective agreement, they shouldn’t hesitate to contact a GSU staff representative.” 

WE’RE WORKING ON IT: members received Article 24, contacted by EI and told to pay back EI benefits received during layoff

Some members from CPS who received Article 24 – notice of position elimination, have been contacted by EI and told that they must pay back EI benefits received during their layoff. This generally happens only when the member continues to collect EI after their six month layoff.

When employees request that their severance be paid out at the end of their six month layoff, the company sends a new record of employment to EI noting that the employee has received severance. If the employee has not ended their claim before they apply for severance, EI treats them as if they had the right to access severance from the start of the layoff and may send out a notice that all EI benefits must be repaid.

To avoid this situation, make sure to end your EI claim a day or two before you apply for severance.

Be aware that if you go past the six months on layoff, you may forfeit your right to receive severance.

The Union will be appealing the repayment for the employees involved. 

Do you need assistance addressing this issue or another problem in your workplace? Contact a GSU staff representative.

No problem is too small. Identifying problems as soon as they arise benefits everyone. Call us toll-free if you have a question or a problem you would like addressed. Call 1.866.522.6686 (Regina) or 1.855.384.7314 (Saskatoon).

Notice of Vote on Tentative Settlement of Agreement Renewal Bargaining – GSU Local 15 (CPS – Saskatchewan)

The following information is available here as a PDF format.


On Tentative Settlement
of Agreement Renewal Bargaining
GSU Local 15 (CPS – Saskatchewan)

May 13, 2016

GSU Local 15 Members (CPS Saskatchewan),

This is notice that GSU members employed by CPS in Saskatchewan will soon be able to vote on the tentative settlement of agreement renewal bargaining reached on April 22, 2016 between the union and company.

The tentative settlement is subject to approval by GSU members and CPS.

Each union member is entitled to vote on the tentative settlement. The question on the ballot is as follows:

I have reviewed the terms of the April 22, 2016 tentative collective bargaining settlement between GSU and CPS and I approve same as the basis for renewing the collective agreement between the employer and my union. __X__

I have reviewed the terms of the April 22, 2016 tentative collective bargaining settlement between GSU and CPS. I reject same. ___X__

Recognizing that this is an extremely busy time of year for all members, a mail-in ballot system will be used to enable each member to vote on the tentative bargaining settlement.

GSU’s administration is sending settlement information, including copies of this notice, to each Ag retail branch and seed plant in the union bargaining unit. An information package will also be sent to Brian Cowan for distribution to members working in Ag R&D.

The GSU voters’ list will be based on the latest union dues remittance provided by CPS. A ballot and voting instructions will be mailed to the home mailing address of each member on the voters’ list.

When you receive your ballot via Canada Post please mark your choice and place the ballot inside the small unmarked envelope which you will also receive. Then place the envelope containing your ballot inside the larger self-addressed/postage-paid envelope and mail it to GSU.

The deadline for ballots to be returned will be three weeks from the date GSU mails the ballots to members on the voters’ list. The return deadline will be identified in the voting instructions accompanying the ballots mailed to members. It will also be announced by email and advertised on GSU’s web site.

Members who do not receive a ballot and voting instructions at their home are asked to call GSU toll-free at 1.866.522.6686 to rectify the situation.

GSU’s Local 15 bargaining committee is recommending approval of the April 22, 2016 tentative settlement with CPS. If a majority of members voting approve the tentative settlement, a renewed collective agreement will be finalized. If a majority of members voting reject the tentative settlement, the Local 15 bargaining committee will invite the Company to return to the bargaining table and/or serve notice of a collective bargaining dispute under the provisions of the Saskatchewan Employment Act.

Hugh Wagner, Bargaining Committee Spokesperson

Carolyn Illerbrun, Brian Cowan, Brent Pelechaty, Lynn Woods-Nordin and Hugh Wagner


Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Contact a bargaining committee member directly by calling the GSU Regina office at 1.866.522.6686, or email bargaining committee spokesperson Hugh Wagner at


Background information:

LOCAL 15 (CPS) – Tentative settlement summary and report

If an Article or section of an Article of the collective agreement is not mentioned in this report, it means there will not be any change to that Article or section as the case may be.

There are numerous grammatical and “housekeeping” changes to the collective agreement. These types of changes clarify the wording, but do not change rights.

There may be adjustments to the precise wording of some amendments to better capture the intent of the parties. Where these are occur, members will be informed.

A summary of the tentative agreement renewal bargaining settlement between GSU and Crop Production Services Canada covering Local 15 is available below.

Please note the tentative settlement is subject to approval by GSU members. Next week, GSU will announce details of the plans for conducting the vote on the tentative settlement.