COVID-19 Member Update for April 26, 2020

Good Morning Members,
Please accept our apologizes on the delay in updates this week as we were simply inundated with inquiries from members across the District after many had been told they were not permitted to wear any personal protective equipment, whether it be manufactured or homemade, while at the workplace. This of course has taken 100% of our attention to address and try to find some resolution with our Employer prior to members coming back to the work site for the first time, or members now being asked to work in the same space as other staff and/or students.
First, let’s be clear on your Union’s position….
Your Union Executive believes that this current pandemic is based on the fact that we are dealing with an invisible infectious disease that is highly contagious and for some can have serious and even life-threatening consequences. The contagion is transmitted via respiratory droplets from human contact (adults and children) or from touch surfaces, as the virus can live for hours and/or days depending on the type of surface. There are those among us that will be asymptomatic (i.e. a carrier of a virus with no symptoms) while others may simply display mild symptoms similar to that of other types illnesses; in both instances the shedding of the virus is still occurring. In terms of prevention there are a number of ways we can address transmission in community and/or public settings:
1. Maintain physical distancing 6 feet/2 metres at all times.
2. Practice good hygiene: hand washing with warm water and soap for 20 seconds and then drying hands with a paper towel.
3. Wearing the appropriate coverings if they;
a) Help prevent one from touching their eyes, nose, mouth and/or face, and/or
b) Help prevent one from spreading droplets via an involuntary sneeze or cough in which they are unable to adequately cover their nose or mouth.
4. If you are at all symptomatic, “Stay Home”.
Your Union believes that not only are these the responsible steps that everyone should be taking when leaving their homes, but it is the respectful way to approach any infectious disease to prevent further spread in various community and/or public settings.
Our Health Officers, both Federally and Provincially have continued to promote the above and your Union finds it unacceptable should any, or all, of these measures not be adhered to in the workplace.
The other messaging we continue to hear from our Leaders is “To be kind….”, this means everyone and not just workers, but those in supervisory roles as well; understanding, care and compassion are required in all communications thereby allowing everyone a chance to settle into this “New Normal” that has been thrust upon us.
Further to your Union’s discussions with our Employer on Friday, we hoped that they would hear the concerns that we brought forward on Wednesday and Thursday, and it would appear that they did as they have agreed to soften their position regarding the wearing of manufactured or homemade items that offer some protection to everyone while in the workplace. Members that are still being told they cannot wear such items are asked to contact the Union immediately.
Lastly, the Employer has made it very clear that students who are going to be returning to the sites MUST have the ability to self-regulate any students that have a history of hitting, kicking, scratching, biting, spitting, or running away will not be permitted to attend at this time; nor will students that require any type of personal care.  Students exhibiting any symptoms; coughing, sneezing, runny nose will not be permitted on site and should students become symptomatic while at school they must be isolated immediately while they await pick-up.  The Union was also advised that the PVP have been told to roll this next phase out in small numbers, we suspect the rationale being that should issues arise they can be addressed promptly without negatively impacting large groups of staff and students.
In Solidarity,
CUPE 411 Executive