COVID-19 Update for April 2, 2020

Good Afternoon Members,

The messaging from our leaders is to stay home as the next two weeks are critical in controlling this COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have now seen thousands of K-12 workers across the province be required to return to their worksites this week. While some Districts are taking a very slow, collaborative and well thought out approach (respectful and considerate of their employees) others are rushing forward full steam ahead; now hardly seems like the time to be throwing caution to the wind. The Hero’s in all this will be those Districts that have clear and consistent plans, with robust OH&S procedures in place that minimizes the risk of an outbreak of the coronavirus at their work sites.

The messaging we are getting from our CUPE Reps who who are working with Government directly is that member’s not accepting work are not to be laid off, as all K-12 workers are protected until the end of April. This Local believes all of our members want to work, and that no one is looking to take advantage of this situation, but they need to know they will be safe in performing their duties at the worksite. However, if you or someone you live with has a medical condition that could seriously jeopardize their health should they contact the COVID-19 virus, then you should strongly consider staying away from work. Your Union believes working from home should be the first option for those members with compromised health. Any inquiries into a member’s private medical information or that of their families, is strictly prohibited. If you have any concerns regarding this we ask that you reach out to your Union representative.

Although your Local continues to meet with the Employer on a regular basis, which your executive does appreciate, these are more information sessions. The Employer is informing your Union what they are going to do. Be assured we bring all your questions and concerns to those meetings, where they are shared and if possible, addressed promptly. Please know that your Union is not involved in any of the planning or approving what is happening here in this District. As long as the B.C. Provincial Emergency Program Act is in effect, your Union is handcuffed and has no control on how this District chooses to redeploy our members.

Many members have come to us with questions regarding Employment Insurance, your Union is not in a position to give advice on this worker benefit. Please pursue answers directly with Employment Insurance staff.

For our casual members, you have had many questions for us. Sadly we have very few answers for you at this time. Please know we have not forgotten about you. We continue to advocate for all our members, and we continue to ask what will happen with all of you that were not in Temporary Assignment and simply being called out day to day. Please continue to email us your questions/concerns, as answers come our way we will share them with you directly and/or post them on the website for all to see.

We know these are scary times for many. We hope that by continuing with these communications we are providing you with good information. Information that provides some answers and clarity, along with the solace in knowing that the health and well-being of you and your families is at the forefront of all of our conversations with our Employer.

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive