COVID-19 Update for March 29, 2020

Good Morning Members,

In Dr. Bonnie Henry’s address to the public on Friday, March 27th (at approx. the 40-minute mark) she spoke to the risks involved with transmission and how to manage work-flows.  Granted this spoke to those in hospitals, but it would seem logical that the same rationale should apply to other worksites.  She also stressed that the distancing measures are making a difference, and therefore, we as a Union will not support any scenario in which those cannot be maintained.  Another report for B.C.  came out yesterday from Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry with the latest update on what has been happening in our province and what the briefings for next week will look like.

The Union has been consulting with other K-12 executive members across this province to get an understanding on what is unfolding in their Districts and how their Employer’s are engaging the Union’s in managing this pandemic as a collective.  We have received some excellent feedback as there are some District’s that are working collaboratively with the Union’s, they have strong OH&S Professionals on staff that are doing a great job at developing plans that address their members safety and are laying that out quite clearly with the Union.  While others are working on plans but are no where near ready to roll them out, so they have decided to keep everyone at home for at least another week.  Yet there are other Districts that are forging ahead without clear plans, or at least if they do have a plan it has not been communicated with the Union, and they are even entertaining the idea of having additional staff, students, or possibly members of the public come into their buildings.  The later of course is of great concern as this is clearly not putting members safety at the forefront.  Our Superintendent has been clear with the Union that the Health and Safety of staff is paramount, and it is the Union’s goal to collaboratively work with the Employer during this time of crisis in this regard.

If our members should find themselves in a position where they feel the risk to their safety, or the safety of others is imminent then we would ask that you please review the following article from CUPE National that speaks to Refusing Unsafe Work. The Union wants to be clear that this is not a tool to be used to avoid work, this is however a right that every worker in B.C. has to ensure that their health and safety, and others around them, is the first and foremost consideration for all Employers.  The process for reporting unsafe work is clear and must be addressed immediately so that corrective action can be taken without delay.  If the process is not being followed your Union Executive want to hear from you ASAP.

Lastly, it has come to our attention that some members have been directed to go home, but if you are not experiencing the symptoms as laid out by the CDC, then we want to hear from you.  There are many members who perhaps have one or two of these symptoms due to some other health issue (i.e. chronic smokers cough, or seasonal allergies) and you should not be sent home and expected to use your sick days as a result.  The Union will not tolerate the Employer attempting to have our members burn through any of their benefit entitlements as a result of this pandemic.

The CDC has very detailed information regarding “Vulnerable Populations” and we want to ensure is that if you as a member meet any of the criteria you DO NOT come in to work, but relate to your Supervisor that you are ready, willing and able to work from home.  Again, we want to remind our members that pre-existing medical conditions are not to be disclosed and if anyone is pressuring you for such details you need to contact your Union representative.

An email from the Union will be going today, it is important that you review this as it speaks to the expectations regarding work on Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31.  We ask that you please be sure to check your personal emails for our correspondence as we often share sensitive or timely information in that format.

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive