Have you completed the survey yet??

During the 2019 Provincial Bargaining session for K-12 the parties agreed to strike a committee “Support Staff Education Committee” (SSEC) and the mandate for this group is spelled out in item No.6 of the “Provincial Framework Agreement“.

The committee is now in the process of soliciting input from the K-12 support staff in order to define priorities and interest in order to establish appropriate training opportunities.

We are encouraging all members to complete the “K-12 Support Staff Training Survey“, as the committee is also looking for feedback on the state of existing training in Districts.  Many of our members know all too well how less than adequate the training has been when it comes to addressing Health & Safety issues in our workplaces; in particular the violent attacks and verbal abuse that members are subjected to on an ongoing basis.  Perhaps this is our opportunity to really raise the alarm bells with CUPE BC & BCPSEA on how bad things really have become in School District No.33 (Chilliwack) in the last few years?

While the survey is voluntary, your individual responses are completely anonymous and we would encourage everyone to take some time out of your day to complete it, the deadline to do this is March 8, 2021.




IMPORTANT – COVID-19 Update RE: Self-Isolation

Good Evening Members,

There have been numerous inquiries regarding the process members need to follow if they have been advised to self-isolate by a BC Health Authority.  Therefore the Union sent an email tonight to all members advising you of your rights to financial compensation should you be required to self-isolate as a result of an exposure to COVID-19, or if you are awaiting testing results.

Members are NOT required to use time from their sick bank in order to be paid while absent from work so long as they meet the requirements that were detailed in the email.  Members may be required to work remotely wherever possible so please ensure you speak with your immediate supervisor about this possibility until such time as Fraser Health advises you are able to return to the workplace.

If the Employer insists on proof (i.e. Letter from Fraser Health) please advise your Union Rep immediately as this is not the expectation that has been communicated to the Union from the provincial level.

We advised the Employer last week that members may be requiring to self-isolate at the direction of Fraser Health and how that needs to be coded in Power School; to date we have yet to receive information on this process, but one thing is for certain, members are not to be using their “Sick” time if they are not sick.

All questions or concerns regarding this can either be directed to a Shop Steward, or to the Union office via email, unionoffice@cupe411.ca or phone 604-392-1411 (office) / 604-316-9923 (cell).

In Solidarity,

CUPE Local 411 Executive

Does every child in BC have the right to an education?

Absolutely, CUPE Local 411 believes all children are entitled to a quality public education, however, it is reasonable to assume that not every child’s educational experience is going to look the same.

A one-size fits all approach to education is not only unreasonable, it will undoubtedly create barriers to learning thus not allowing ALL children to reach their full potential.

Not only does the BC School Act speak to the educational opportunities afforded to students, it also speaks to the Duties of Students:

6   (1)A student must comply

(a)with the school rules authorized by the principal of the school or Provincial school attended by the student, and

(b)with the code of conduct and other rules and policies of the board or the Provincial school.

The above also rings true for students with Special Needs (see pg 11 of the Special Education Policy Manual)

Members that are in need of clarity regarding your sites Code of Conduct, or the Chilliwack School District’s Policies should be able to find more information under the “About” tab and “Schools” tab on the District’s websites home page.  If you should come across any language that contradicts your experiences, we would welcome your feedback; unionoffice@cupe411.ca or 604-392-1411.

In Solidarity




CUPE Local 411 would like to congratulate Carin Bondar on her successful bid for the position of School Trustee on Chilliwack’s Board of Education in the February 13th By-Election.

We would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the other Nominees:

  • Richard Procee
  • Brian VanGarderen
  • Adam Suleman

For their desire to want to represent the staff and students of our school community.

The Union looks forward to having a new representative on the Board that will enhance the positive working relationship that we are striving for with the Trustees.

What is the role of an Education Assistant?

While the duties and responsibilities of this role can be found in the appropriate Job Descriptions, there is also another document titled “The Roles and Responsibilities of Teachers and Teacher Assistants/Education Assistants”.  This “Joint Paper” is a result of an ongoing commitment between CUPE and BCTF to establish a co-operative, and respectful working relationship for those staff who work hands on with special needs students and it is also a document that our Employer will reference when questions arise regarding expectations of these two parties in the workplace.

But nowhere in the Job Description, the Joint Paper, School District No.33 (Chilliwack) Policies, or the BC School Act, the BC Employment Standards Act, and any other piece of legislation could we find where it states that if you hold the title of an Education Assistant that you are expected to tolerate verbal abuse and violent attacks by students in the workplace.

If you or someone you work with has been told that “This is the job you signed up for” or “It’s part of your job, so deal with it” when you are reporting on workplace violence or expressing concerns over the inappropriate behaviour or conduct by a student, please contact an elected Union Representative immediately for assistance.  Your Union has never, and will never, condone this kind of mindset and if you find yourselves in a situation where prompt action is not being taken to protect yourself and/or your co-workers then we want to hear from you so that we can pursue a course of action on our members behalf.

It is also worth taking note of the role that the Ministry of Education plays within School Districts and some of the conditions that both the Ministry and the Districts are responsible for:

  • Provision of adequate resources to maintain an appropriate learning environment.
  • Availability of a suitable workspace to accommodate the learning activities of those working with students with special needs.
  • Access to appropriate information regarding the student, the Individual Education Plan (IEP), as well as techniques and strategies necessary to carry out the respective responsibilities of each in relation to students’ programs.
  • Provision of appropriate in-service on instructional and behavioural techniques and strategies.
  • Adequate release time for members of the school-based team, and adequate time within the school day for members of the student-specific support team, including the teacher and the teacher assistants, to participate as required in the process of developing, implementing, and monitoring the IEP.

By not following the above can significantly contribute to a negative health and safety culture in the workplace and as such should be addressed at your sites monthly Joint Health & Safety Committee (JOHSC) meetings.  Please contact your CUPE JOHSC Rep and request that your concerns be placed on the Agenda at an upcoming meeting for both discussion and resolve.

In Solidarity

COVID-19 – Update for February 11, 2021

Good Evening Members,

The government has just released an updated document of their COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 settings.  While the Union does not support some of the statements made in this document based on our own personal experiences and exchanges with members regarding COVID-19.  There are certain criteria that we are required to adhere to while in the workplace, however, there are some things that you are NOT required to do; such as….

  • Download the COVID-19 tracker app to your personal cell phone.  Member DO NOT have to do this, by asking you to do this it is not only a violation of your personal privacy, members should never be asked or directed by their supervisor to use their personal cell phones.
  • Provide details either in writing or electronically relating to the Daily Self Assessments, any collecting of a members medical information is a violation of their privacy and should never be condoned.
  • Be forced to use your sick time or take an unpaid leave if you are required to self-isolate at the direction of a Health Authority. (more information to follow on this)

We have also received some inquiries from members regarding vaccines, and if once a member is vaccinated are they still required to adhere to all of the social distancing, and wearing of PPE.  At this point in time the answer is “Yes”.  The vaccination is simply an attempt to strengthen a persons immune system so that should they become infected with the virus their symptoms will be minimal at best, thus not requiring any emergent hospital care.

Members seeking further clarity to this document, or any other Health & Safety item, are encouraged to email their sites CUPE JOHSC Rep so that the issue(s) can be addressed at your sites next meeting.

In Solidarity

To Report or Not Report, that is the Question??

The Union feels it is in every member’s best interest to always report when they have experienced an accident or incident in the workplace and we strongly encourage all members to do so.  There are many reasons for this, but the two most important ones are:

  • By reporting incidents members have now established a start date should they become symptomatic or begin to experience symptoms as a result of the accident/incident in which case they would be eligible for a WorkSafe BC claim.
  • By reporting incidents our Employer is required to investigate the accident/incident and immediately take corrective action to remove the hazard, or at the very least mitigate the hazard to avoid any further harm to you as a worker.

For Example:  A member is assigned to support a student that proceeds to scream in the members right ear, on average for 1 hour, 5 days per week, 180 days per year, for 5 years.  The member expresses concern over this behaviour to their immediate supervisor but never files a report; the supervisor is under no obligation to address the situation and there is no formal documentation to support the members claims.  Over the course of the 5 years the members mental and emotional health has been negatively affected and by year 6 the member’s physical health has been irreversibly damaged. This member has not been eligible for any support through WorkSafe in the short term, nor will they be in the long-term; any and all costs associated with their physical, mental and emotional health as a result of prolonged exposure of a workplace hazard are now the members burden to bear.

Reporting is the only real mechanism that we as Unionized workers have to ensure our health and safety concerns are addressed and by doing so should also result in changes that will benefit others around us in the workplace.

For Example: A member is entering the building, they trip and fall coming through the door as the threshold (door sill) has lifted.  The member immediately completes a WSBC Form 6A, keeps a copy for themselves, gives one copy to their immediate supervisor, and notifies their CUPE JOHSC rep on site.  The supervisor promptly conducts an investigation with a Union rep from the JOHS committee, they identify the hazard and have it promptly corrected.  As a result, no other worker, student, or visitor to the site will potentially trip and fall while entering the school.  The reporting is then discussed at the monthly JOHSC meeting and details are recorded in the minutes; thus clearly indicating the situation was handled swiftly and appropriately from start to finish.

No one can every deny a member’s right to file a report should they experience violence in the workplace, or suffer an incident/accident that they believe could have, or did cause them physical, emotional, or mental harm; to do so is a violation of the law and is actionable.

Members who are unsure what the reporting process looks like are encouraged to join in the Union’s “Saturday Morning Safety Talk” session on February 13th from 8:30-10:00am via Zoom.  Please email unionoffice@cupe411.ca or text 604-316-9923 with your full name and we will be sure to send you the link to join this session.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about reporting we would encourage members to reach out to the CUPE JOHSC Rep at their site, or you can always contact an elected Union Rep for assistance.

In Solidarity

Do support staff employed by the Chilliwack School District have any worker rights??

All workers in BC have rights and protections afforded to them under a variety of legislative language and negotiated settlements.

The WorkBC website is a great place to start if looking for your basic rights and entitlements here in this province; some of the topics you will find, and the links to direct you to specific information, can be found below:

For CUPE 411 members you are also afforded additional rights and entitlements that have been reached as a result of negotiated settlements with both the provincial government and our employer.  While we have been anxiously awaiting our July 1, 2019 Collective Agreement to be published, members can still view the old C.A. on-line and if you have questions regarding any new language please email unionoffice@cupe411.ca.

All workers in British Columbia have four basic Health and Safety rights:

  1. The Right to Know
  2. The Right to Participate
  3. The Right to Refuse
  4. The Right to NO Reprisal

Not only do employers have a legal obligation to tell workers of any hazards they may encounter in the workplace, workers have the right to participate in the decision making that impacts their health and safety in their workplaces.  Just about all workers have the right to say “No” to dangerous work, and it is illegal for employers to punish workers who are following the OH&S laws in good faith; this includes reporting hazards, participating on a committee, and exercising the right to refuse dangerous work.  No worker should ever fear punishment for exercising their right in protecting their health and safety.

Members that have questions or concerns regarding their workplaces are welcome to contact an Elected Union Representative for additional guidance and support.

In Solidarity

What about unsafe conditions, do I have to continue to work in an environment where I feel unsafe?

Every worker in this province has the “Right to Refuse Unsafe Work” and is protected under the relevant WorkSafe BC Regulations should they choose to exercise that right.  The Workers Compensation Act, is clear that Employers must ensure the health and safety of all their workers, they must remedy conditions that are hazardous to the health or safety their workers and they also must make their workers aware of all known or reasonably foreseeable health or safety hazards to which they are likely to be exposed to by the work that they do.

Right to refuse unsafe work should not be taken lightly, nor should it be used carelessly.  Members need to educate themselves on the process and must be able to clearly articulate the hazardous condition in so far as it relates to the work they are required to perform in their respective workplace.  However, it is important to know that if you find yourself in a hazardous situation, or can possibly foresee one, then you need to promptly report this to your Supervisor so the situation can be remedied immediately.

WorkSafe BC language surrounding the “Correction of Unsafe Conditions” (Regs; 3.9, 3.10 and 3.11) is important as it allows workers to ensure harmful conditions are remedied without delay.

For Example: If a member witnesses what appears to be an unsafe or harmful condition or act, they are required to report it to their immediate supervisor and the person receiving the report must then investigate and ensure that corrective action is taken immediately.

Failure of an Employer to follow any of the above is all grieveable and/or reportable to WorkSafe BC.

CUPE National has some excellent on-line resources that members can access free of charge on a variety of Health & Safety topics; Refusing Unsafe Work: A step by step guide, Violence Prevention, and Occupational Mental Health.

Members are encouraged to email their sites CUPE JOHSC reps with any reporting they provide to their immediate supervisors, this will then allow the CUPE Reps to follow up with you as well as the Supervisor confirming the hazard has been remedied.  If members are finding their concerns are not being heard or taken seriously please reach out to an Elected Union official for additional guidance and support.

In Solidarity