Dear Members of CUPE 1287,
“These are unprecedented times.” We will continue to hear this in the media, at work, from our various levels of government and yes from our Union. With that out of the way, let’s get down to the heart of your president’s message.
I want to acknowledge the concerns that our members have been bringing to the union office as well as their unions representatives in the various workplaces that CUPE 1287 represents. I want to assure the members that we take these concerns seriously, are forwarding them to the appropriate parties, be it the Emergency Operations Centre at the Niagara Region, Human Resources for our various Units in CUPE 1287, managers of departments, and so on. Continue to abide by the 6 feet/2 metres physical distancing. When this is not happening bring it your supervisors/managers attentions. If the issue is not resolved, please contact myself as per contact information below.
A ” Letter of Understanding Re: Conducting Local Union Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic” has been sent to all our Units employers, which gives a clear message as to what the union is expecting from each of our employers during this pandemic.
Our units in CUPE 1287 offer various community services that our families, our neighbours, our communities themselves are relying on. In a number of our units we are the safety net that many individuals rely on. We are also support staff to our co-workers, the technology support needed to keep communications open. Services such as keeping our homes and communities clean with garbage pickup, offering food banks and housing to the homeless, being a mental health resource to our communities, job supports to the unemployed, social assistance monies and supports, and the list goes on. We are the faces of the Canadian Union of Public Employees to our various communities in Niagara Region. Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication. These are not easy times. We are facing stresses in our homes lives and yes in our work lives.
There are many questions coming to the Union office and our union representatives in our work places as per ‘essential services’, why are we still working, why can’t I work from home, is it safe to come to work, will my employer be topping up the EI services being offered. These are all viable questions and no one easy answer. The services that our CUPE 1287 units are offering are vital to our communities. In some cases we are public servants/municipal workers, in others we are offering services to people in need. When our grocery stores are open so we can buy food, when pharmacies are staying open for our medications, when liquor stores are staying open, when municipalities are still doing their work, this is the new ‘essential services’. If may not feel like it, but our employers are continuously assessing what can be done, what options can be put in place that keep people working
What may have been off the table yesterday is on the table today. We may be re-deployed ( checked with National Rep and can occur). All employers have the mandate to provide safe workplaces and not putting their staff in harm’s way. They are following the advice and guidelines of our Public Health Department under the watchful eye of our Medical Office of Health, Dr. Hirji. A recent email to all Locals from our National President, Mark Hancock, has also re-iterated this “CUPE locals, councils, and divisions should follow directives from the public health authorities in their region”.
On a personal note, please remember to take care of yourselves. To continue to take care of our families, our work, we need to make time for ‘us’. It may only be a moment, but sliver out that personal time. Be it your faith, your own mindfulness following, a workout regime, quiet time with a book, listening to music, make sure to take that moment for yourselves. It always proves surprising to me, what energy and strength I get from my personal ‘faith’ moment.
Please continue to follow the guidelines of social distancing, handwashing in our work lives and in our home lives. Below are some links which I have found helpful.
From our National CUPE website: https://cupe.ca/cupe-backgrounder-federal-income-support-announcements and Q & A on these Income supports https://cupe.ca/income-supports-workers-during-coronavirus-pandemic
Niagara Region Public Health website with informational links and how to contact the nurses at the Covid-19 Info Line, including Self-Assessment: https://www.niagararegion.ca/health/covid-19/default.aspx?topic=1
Ontario Government Tele Health and link to their online Self-Assessment : https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-medical-advice-telehealth-ontario
Sharon Mills, President
EQUALITY. DIGNITY. SOLIDARITY