Day of Mourning

Today, April 28th, is the National Day of Mourning where we honour those that have lost their lives in the workplace.

Sadly, there were 11 CUPE members from across the country that were lost due to workplace fatalities in the last year, and most recently there were several CUPE members from various Locals that succumbed to COVID-19.  This is why your Local Union fights so hard to ensure members know their rights in the workplace and that access to vital PPE is critical when it comes to protecting members health and safety.

Although the Chilliwack School District did not have a moment of silence for those fallen workers, your Union would like to acknowledge the lives lost from coast to coast and we hope that everyone took a moment out of their day to pay their respects to those fallen workers and say a prayer for the families and loved ones that have been left behind.

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive

 

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

COVID-19 – Update for April 20, 2020

Good Evening Members,

Just a brief update tonight to let you know where the discussions with our Employer are at…..

As of today the District will be looking at adding children from the list of Tier 2 Workers in the Province and they will be joining those students already attending the childminding/learning environment at G.W. Graham sometime this week.

The Employer advised your Union that the next priority for the District will be to look at ways to support vulnerable and special needs students, those discussions should be underway this week, with a potential strategy to be implemented next week.  We look forward to reviewing the District’s plans to ensure all appropriate health and safety measures are in place at each and every site, ensuring our members protection, and that any questions/concerns that the Union and our members have are addressed prior to parents and/or students entering the facilities.

The redeployment of members from our Transportation Department will start in the next day or two, many members have already been contacted and we expect to see those able to work during this pandemic to move into temporary positions in both the Custodial and Maintenance divisions.  There will be orientations taking place for those members as well as access to appropriate equipment.

We want to assure members that although these changes are temporary and without prejudice or precedent, that the language in our Collective Agreement will still be adhered to and any deviation from bargained language must be agreed upon by both parties.

The Employer assured the Union early on that they would not be asking our members for doctors notes if members were in fact unable to come to work due to illness/injury, or as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19; so please do let us know if you are being asked for any such documentation.  Members are reminded that if they are off work for more than five working days they must report their absence on the sixth day via the CUPE Six on-line reporting system.

Lastly, we want to put out a friendly reminder that despite many of you only working partial days, or being paid to be at home and on call, or put on paid Administrative Leave because you are unable to work due to COVID-19 as a result of a pre-existing medical condition, or you live with someone who is immune compromised, many of our members have had to continue to work full-time despite everything that is going on right now.  We would ask that you please be sensitive to this fact; we know that we are all in this together, and now more than ever we need to support one another and not allow some of the small, and temporary, inequalities divide us.

Please remember to “Get the Facts”, “Protect Each Other”, and “Be Kind”……

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive

COVID-19 – Update for April 19, 2020

Good Morning Members,

On Friday, April 17th B.C.’s Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and Minister of Health, Mr. Adrian Dix, presented the modelling that has been developed for our province as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.   Dr. Henry also provided another update yesterday, April 18th, and she confirmed that the cases they are seeing are due to close contacts, and that coming together in gatherings is still not recommended.  At about the 30-minute mark of the conference Dr. Henry does speak to the expectations for the Education system. There was a lot of good questions during this press conference with some very clarifying answers that some may find of interest.

There have not been many public announcements coming from the Ministry of Education but this most recent interview with Minister Fleming touches on some of the expectations regarding educations for BC students for the remainder of this school year.  Keep Learning BC is a resource for parents, and the Ministry website also has information for families and students to “…keep kids learning during in-class school suspension”.

Here are a few other links to resources that may be of interest to our members:

Members that have any questions or concerns with regards to what is happening within our District in so far as it relates to their jobs are asked to connect with their Shop Stewards or email unionoffice@cupe411.ca so that we can promptly address an issues that you may be experiencing amidst this health care crisis.

On a positive note we have had some feedback from members working at the GWG site supporting the children of our Tier 1 Healthcare providers and it sounds like things are going extremely well.  The Team from Learning Services that has overseen the creation of this unique learning environment and has done an excellent job in ensuring appropriate safety measures are in place for everyone on site, and the delivery of instruction has been creative with a number of fun activities for the students.  A HUGE “Thank you” to everyone involved as the Union could not be more proud to support our front-line workers!

We hope that you were able to safely enjoy the beautiful weather yesterday, and please remember, we are all in this together……just a little further apart.

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive

COVID-19 – Member Update for April 14, 2020

Good Evening Members,

We trust you all enjoyed the wonderful weather this long weekend and we thought we would give everyone a little break from all the COVID-19 updates, but with the start of another new week, it’s time to get back sharing news stories and links to various resources that may be of interest to our members.

As Dr. Tam said in a recent press conference….“If we want a best case scenario, we must give it our best efforts”; this after she stated that “We know social distancing works”.  Therefore, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in our efforts and if you are looking for some of the projections and statistics that are being shared out on the Federal level you can visit the following:

Canadian Modeling Projections

In another recent address by Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry they provided British Columbians with a COVID-19 update and the optimistic take away was, “this is not forever, but it is for now and what you are doing is making a difference”.  Dr. Henry also touches on her philosophy around school closures at around the 27-minute mark of the press conference while Minister Dix reminds us to “bend the curve, not the rules”.

Some other media links that might be of interest are:

  • W5 – Dr. Bruce Aylward is a world-renowned Canadian Epidemiologist who shares his perspective on the COVID-19 virus.
  • The National – Is doing an excellent job on keeping Canadians informed on what is happening across this country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • CTV News – Discusses guidelines about where and when to wear a cloth mask; with allergy season upon us, this might be of interest to many of our members?

The following are links to various informational websites for CUPE members:

All CUPE 411 members are encouraged to monitor their school district email accounts for information coming from the Employer or their representatives, also check the COVID-19 tab on the SharePoint page via the district’s website.  Members who have been unable to attend their work sites as a result of this pandemic because they have pre-existing medical conditions or that live with someone who is immune compromised can expect to be receiving a call from a member of the districts Human Resources department.  While we would expect these calls to be made during regular business hours, your Union understands that there may be a need for contact to be done in the early evening or on weekends.  If you are not able to take the call outside of working hours, please be sure to follow up promptly with any messages that you receive.  This also applies to inquiries being made for those members that are facing childcare issues.  In discussions with our Employer we were advised that members where not being asked to sign off on any documentation, should you receive paperwork asking for your feedback or signature, please contact the Union office immediately, 604-392-1411 or unionoffice@cupe411.ca.

Members can expect to see an email go out to the members in the next day or two as well as another short survey.  With another busy week ahead, we just wanted to say “Thank you” in advance for your continued support as we are doing our best to advocate in the best interest of all our members and we do appreciate the feedback you are providing us.

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive

A Good Friday Message for April 10, 2020

Dear Members,

First, we would just like to start by saying we hope each and everyone of our members is able to enjoy this four-day weekend and we anticipate everyone will continue practicing social distancing, as virtual Easter celebrations should be the order of the day.  These past few weeks have no doubt weighed heavy on everyone and we hope that you can find some peace and solace amidst this time of crisis and if you are very lucky maybe even a little laughter.

Your Union has been working tirelessly these past four weeks and we hope that we are providing you with much needed information in an accurate and timely fashion.  Our goal, as always is to act and respond in the best interest of the membership and if for any reason you feel that we are falling short on your behalf we encourage you to reach out and share your concerns.

Many Leaders know that a crisis such as what we are in with this COVID-19 pandemic can allow them room or opportunity to impose transformative change.  As Union leaders and activists, we need to be ever mindful of this and continue to question the actions and decisions of our Employers.

In this time of high crisis your Union is more than willing to not only collaborate but cooperate with our Employer, however, what we are not prepared to do is abdicate all the language in our C.A. for it, or put members at risk.

What your Union expects is that all steps being taken now that affect our members are deemed necessary, are acted upon fairly, justly and without bias, and that all decisions are transparent.

In the face of this pandemic your Union realizes that extreme measures may be necessary and with that may come the need for extraordinary powers, as a result this will require extraordinary scrutiny.  You can trust that we are doing our best to ensure the later is upheld and that your worker rights in all areas are not lost, forgotten or shoved aside for any personal or political agenda.

Stay strong, stay resilient, and always stay safe….

In Solidarity

CUPE 411 Executive

COVID-19 Update for April 9, 2020

Dear Members,

It has come to our attention that several members have been contacted by the School Districts Human Resources Department and asked to disclose information pertaining to their pre-existing medical conditions, or medical conditions of those that they live with.

The Employer is not entitled to ask a worker for a diagnosis. Not in the past, and not at this time either.  The acceptable response to an inquiry from H.R. regarding your pre-existing condition would be as follows:

“Yes, I have a pre-existing medical condition that affects me with COVID-19” (FULL STOP)

OR

“Yes, I live with someone who is immune compromised that affects them with COVID-19” (FULL STOP)

Indicate to H.R. that you are more than willing to work from home, if you have the capabilities to do so and if your particular position with the District would allow for that and be creative in your ideas on how you can do that (i.e. E.A.’s can support teacher’s via Team’s with their students).

If the Employer or their representatives continue to pressure you for medical information advise them you would like to speak with your Union representative and will follow up with them via email.  Please know that you cannot be disciplined for withholding private medical information for yourself or a family member that you live with.

The Employer is permitted to ask if you have symptoms that pertain to COVID-19 (i.e. fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing), and if you are presenting these symptoms you should remain at home, or if they persist or worsen seek medical attention.

It is the Union’s understanding that if the Employer is not agreeable to you working from home and you cannot come into the worksite due to medical concerns then you will be put on Administrative Leave and paid as though you were working.  You are not required to use your sick bank and for now this arrangement should be honoured until April 30, 2020.  We cannot speak to what will happen after that date as the Government is going to review what is happening in the various Districts over the next couple of weeks and will provide further direction accordingly.

If you are unclear on any of this please contact your respective Shop Steward or email unionoffice@cupe411.ca and someone will contact you with further direction.

In Solidarity

CUPE 411 Executive

COVID-19 – Member Update for April 7, 2020

Good Evening Members,

Today your Union received a document titled “School Based Supervision” this appears to be the guidelines that the District said they would follow and share, this document also includes the Public Health Guidelines with an Employer-based plan. We feel confident our Employer will follow these guidelines and if you have questions about anything contained in this document you need to ask your Administrator or Manager. This document can be found on the School Districts SharePoint site in the section identified as “COVID-19”. Everyone working on the childcare initiative should have had this shared with them today, we are not sure how it will be shared with our other member’s but everyone needs to read it.

At minimum the Employer is required to follow the guidelines and direction that come from the Ministry of Health regarding COVID-19, although it is well within their power to enhance those health and safety protocols should they so desire.  The majority of this information can be found on the BC CDC website.

The Ministry of Education have directed each school district in the province to follow these four (4) guiding principles as they make plans for students amidst this COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Ensure a health and safe environment for all students, families and employees.
  2. Provide the services needed to support children of our essential workers.
  3. Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.
  4. Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.

Since the Government declared the province of BC to be in a “State of Emergency”, this now means that all of B.C.’s public employees will be required, wherever possible, to support the efforts in managing this pandemic; not only in the K-12 system but possibly other sectors.

For those that are struggling in various ways outside of the workplace, we are doing our best to share resources that may be of interest and able to support you through this difficult time.  The FSEAP is an extended benefit provider that all of our permanent members can access with complete confidentiality and we urge everyone to take advantage of the many services that they have to offer.

If we are going to get through this crisis it is critically important that we do our best to support one another, some things we can do in the workplace is strictly adhere to the social distancing and if you find that your co-workers just can’t seem to get this piece then we would ask that you reach out to your PVP, or if there is still a JOHS rep at your location they too should be able to provide you with some support and guidance.

We ask that everyone be patient, be considerate, and be kind as we are all in this together…

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive

 

COVID-19 – Update for April 6, 2020

Good Evening Members,

There are some alarming statements being made publicly regarding children not being able to transmit the COVID-19 virus, hence the Union felt it imperative to draw attention some articles that have been published as of late that will make you think twice before accepting those previous statements as the gospel.  As Public Employees we are at the mercy of our Government and the directives that come from the various ministries, however, that does not mean we shouldn’t take the time to educate ourselves, especially in the wake of a pandemic that could very well take your life or the life of someone you love.

We have provided a few links below that you may find of interest…..

The goal of sharing some articles regarding children and this virus is not to strike fear, or create dissention, but to ensure that we do not let our guard down with a false sense of security that children don’t play a role in the transmission of COVID-19.  We also see this as a very teachable moment for our young people; driving home the importance of good hygiene and finding creative ways to make the art of social distancing fun instead of awkward.  The CDC is another resource that may be of interest.

Members who have returned to their respective work sites are reminded to be respectful and mindful when it comes to the 2m (6ft) rule, if someone asks you to step back as they feel you are too close then we would ask that you politely acknowledge their request.  This is a stressful time for so many of our members, so we just ask that you pleased be kind during this difficult time.

Members are also reminded not to use School District email to correspond with your Union Executive.  If you are not signed up to receive our e-mails, please visit our website and “Update Your Contact Information” under the “Contact Us” tab.  Please be sure to fill in all the fields, even if you are wanting to update your email address details, this will ensure that the information we have for you on file is current.

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive

COVID-19 Update for April 5, 2020

Good Morning Members,

We have heard from a number of members that they are not receiving the email correspondence that is being sent out from your Union, if that is the case we would ask that you please go to the “Contact Us” tab on the home page of the 411 Website and then scroll down to “Update Your Contact Information”.  We may have outdated information, or it may have been entered incorrectly so this will give us an opportunity to update our records accordingly and ensure you are getting the latest information pertaining to the current COVID-19 situation.

Your Union continues to receive excellent health and safety resource materials from our governing body CUPE National, please take a moment to review the following:

Our affiliate CUPE BC is also sharing information on their website with regards to COVID-19 that may be of interest to our members?

WorkSafe BC is also another excellent on-line resource as it speaks to the expectations of Employers, as well as to the rights of Workers, not just in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, but always.

There has been much talk about Personal Protective Equipment, and it is important to know that this is truly a last resort when it comes to protecting workers against exposures in the workplace that could lead to injury or ultimately death.  Wearing such equipment can sometimes give a worker a false sense of security, which is why it is critically important that Employers do all that they can to remove the risk, or put into place Engineering or Administrative controls that will either isolate the hazard or change the way in which people perform their expected duties and responsibilities if the hazard cannot be removed.  We can appreciate that it would be impossible to say for 100% certainty that a worksite is safe, but that does not mean the Employer only has to do the least possible to protect their workers, they must do everything that would be considered reasonable given the circumstances.

With that being said every worker in this province has the right to wear gloves, face/eye protection, as well as clothing if they feel as though it is necessary to protect themselves or others in the face of an infectious disease.  So long as by wearing such equipment does not pose a risk to the workers safety.  We have members that have Eczema and excessive hand washing can make this condition worse, therefore wearing gloves would be an acceptable option.  We also have members who suffer with seasonal allergies, and therefore wearing a respirator or face shield would help to mitigate the spray of droplets that would be expelled during a sneeze or cough.  Although the Employer does bear the responsibility in showing members how to put on/take off this equipment safely this can easily be done through virtual or in-person instruction; not being able to demonstrate “how to” should never be used as an excuse for workers not to be permitted to wear such equipment.

WorkSafe BC has some excellent information for workers when it comes to Controlling Exposures in the workplace and Personal Protective Equipment.

Members are asked to please watch for an important email that will be going out tonight, as we again are trying not to overwhelm you with emails as we want to make sure that when we do send them you read them as they are important.

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive