Member Update: February 24, 2021

creynolds COVID-19 Announcements, Member Update

Dear CUPE members:

Shortly after 5 pm today, CUPE received an email from Eastern School District (NLESD) CEO Tony Stack, who let us know that Eastern Health was sending out a news release related to schools and COVID-19 cases. The release contains a list of 22 schools and the number of students and staff that have tested positive since the outbreak announced two weeks ago.

There are approximately 185 students and/or staff associated with 22 schools, including 145 at Mount Pearl Senior High, who tested positive for COVID-19. The remaining 40 cases are distributed among schools listed below.

We have not yet seen the release from Eastern Health, but noted that media had obtained the information and were already sharing it via social media. A statement was also issued this evening by the English School District. You can read it at https://bit.ly/3utDSBr.

Like many of you, we are disappointed that we had to learn about the number of positive cases and the names of the schools in this manner. We do not understand why this information was not released during any of the COVID updates given by the Premier and Public Health or sent to CUPE directly from Public Health.

Earlier this evening, we were also informed by the English School District that a memo from the Assistant Director of Schools, Avalon area, was sent out to principals and that the memo will be shared with staff and families.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your work supervisor.

We understand that the lack of information or the delays in receiving information from some of your employers has been the source of stress for many workers. Please rest assured that CUPE staff are working with employers to improve communications protocols and to ensure you have the information you need to do your jobs and to stay safe at work.

Stay safe and stay strong.

In solidarity,

Sherry Hillier
CUPE NL President

John Hall
CUPE Education Sector Coordinator

 

SCHOOLS:

  • École des Grands-Vents
  • Beachy Cove Elementary
  • Elizabeth Park Elementary
  • Frank Roberts Junior High
  • Holy Family Elementary
  • Holy Heart of Mary High School
  • Holy Spirit High School
  • Juniper Ridge Intermediate
  • Mary Queen of the World
  • Mount Pearl Intermediate
  • Mount Pearl Senior High School
  • Newtown Elementary School
  • Octagon Pond Elementary
  • O’Donel High
  • Paradise Elementary
  • George’s Elementary
  • Matthew’s School
  • Topsail Elementary
  • Upper Gullies Elementary
  • Vanier Elementary
  • Villanova Junior High
  • Waterford Valley High
Text: face masks are mot respirators. Image: N95 respirator

Gravity of the situation calls for N95 or higher respirators for all health care workers in Newfoundland and Labrador

creynolds COVID-19 Announcements, News Release, Occupational Health & Safety

Text: face masks are mot respirators. Image: N95 respirator“The gravity of the situation calls for better protection against COVID-19 for [any] health care workers who work in an environment where they will be in close proximity to patients who have or may have the virus to wear N95 respirators or higher models with better protection that what is currently used,” says Sherry Hillier, president of CUPE Newfoundland Labrador.

“The health care job classifications include all hospital, long term care, and community-based care work,” adds Hillier. “Many staff come in contact with patients in the course of a day – housekeeping, dietary, custodians, therapists, technicians and others. Paramedics, ambulance attendants, firefighters, home support workers and community health care workers should also be included.”

There are a number of respiratory protection products on the market. They do not all offer the same level of protection. Studies show that health care workers are contracting COVID-19 more frequently than other workers. Health care workers require greater protection than they have now.

CUPE’s Health and Safety Representative Jenna Brookfield says, “Since the pandemic began there has been mounting evidence of the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19. With the additional risk of more contagious variants, better, properly fitted respirators for [any] workers who may have to care for COVID-19 patients are not just required, they should be ‘mandatory’.”

We encourage workers to visit our website for more information about respirators and how to stay safe at work. Download CUPE’s Respiratory Protection Fact Sheet or visit the COVID-19 section on cupe.ca.

About CUPE NL

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Newfoundland and Labrador Division, represents more than 6,300 working women and men 60 locals. The union represents workers in health care, long term care, school support and education, public housing, provincial libraries, municipalities, university, childcare, recycling, social services and transition houses, group homes, PAL Airlines and more.

Respiratory Protection Fact Sheet

creynolds COVID-19 Fact Sheets, Fact Sheet, Occupational Health & Safety

Note: the information contained in this fact sheet is for general education and information purposes only. Proper selection of respiratory protection must be completed by a qualified individual who has performed a full hazard analysis of the worksite and tasks. Images are for demonstration purposes. CUPE does not make general endorsements or recommendations for any brand of personal protective equipment.


Protecting workers from respiratory hazards

Many CUPE members work in occupations that put them at risk of exposure to respiratory hazards. These hazards include oxygen-deficient atmospheres, airborne contaminants (including mists, fumes, dusts, or other gasses that may be toxic), or biological contaminants that may harbour any number of infectious diseases. Workplaces that include confined spaces may expose workers to a number of these respiratory hazards at once.

When it comes to controlling respiratory hazards, a hierarchy of controls must always be considered with hazards first being removed or controlled by a permanent engineered solution before considering policies, procedures and personal protective equipment such as respirators. Respiratory hazards can often be removed using engineering methods such as mechanical ventilation or isolation. Personal protective measures should only be used as a last resort, where the hazard cannot be removed.

Employers that have respiratory hazards at the worksite need to have a written respiratory protection plan developed by a competent individual. Employers must also provide adequate employee training, including respiratory hazards identification, proper respirator selection and use, and emergency procedures.

Types of respiratory protection

There are a number of respiratory protection products on the market. They do not all offer the same level of protection.

FACE MASKS

Face masks are not respirators.

A face mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the person wearing the mask and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. There are several common types, most notably dust masks and surgical masks.

When worn properly, a face mask is only meant to help block large-particle dust or droplets (splashes, sprays or splatter) from reaching your mouth and nose. Face masks are also beneficial because they help reduce other people’s exposure to saliva and respiratory secretions from the person wearing the mask.

However, it must be clearly understood that by design, a face mask will not filter or block small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes or certain medical procedures. Face masks do not provide complete protection from viruses or bacteria and other airborne contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the face mask and your face.

Finally, face masks are meant to be disposable, and not intended to be used more than once. If a mask is damaged or soiled, or if breathing through the mask becomes difficult, it should be removed and discarded safely according to required procedures, and replaced with a new one.

RESPIRATORS

The two main types of respirators are supplied-air respirators (SARs) and air-purifying respirators (APRs). The selection of the type of respiratory protection required will depend on the hazards present in the work environment.

Supplied-air respirators

Some workplace atmospheres contain concentrations of hazardous substances that put workers in immediate danger.

Known as an “Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health” (IDLH) atmosphere, it poses an immediate threat to life and can cause irreversible adverse health effects, or can impair a person’s ability to escape[i]. In workplaces that contain this type of hazard, air must be continuously supplied to the worker. There are two types of systems that supply air: self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and continuous flow systems.

SCBA systems are designed for short-term work (such as rescue or short entrance into a IDLH atmosphere) and have high-pressure tanks to supply clean air to the worker, a regulator to control the pressure and a respiratory inlet that is composed of either a tight fitting half mask or face shield, or a looser fitting hood or helmet (see image[ii]).SUPPLIED-AIR RESPIRATORS

Continuous flow systems are designed for longer work in controlled or limited work environments, such as research laboratories or paint shops. In these systems, the worker is connected to a continuous air supply through a hose that is connected to a large tank or external supply. Similar to the SCBA system, the worker wears either a tight-fitting mask or a loose hood or helmet system. Continuous flow systems can also be fitted to full-capsulation body suits.

Air-purifying respirators (APRs)

Probably the most familiar type of respirators are particulate filters.  These filters work by passively filtering out harmful particles as air passes through a filtering material. They come in several styles:

  • Quarter-mask (covering the nose and mouth)
  • Half-face mask (covering from the nose to below the chin), and
  • Full-face piece (covering from above the eyes to below the chin).

Note: APRs are not adequate for use in an IDLH atmosphere. 

Common particulate respirators seen by CUPE members are partial-face “N95” masks. Air Purifying, particulate filtering respirators are all rated with a letter and a number:

  • N-Series filters are designed to be used for protection against solid and water-based particles, but should not be used where oil aerosols are present
  • R-Series filters are designed to be used for protection against all particles, and are designed for exposure to oil aerosols, but can only be used for up to 8 hours
  • P-Series filters are designed to be used for protection against all particles, and are designed for exposure to oil aerosols, but can be used longer than the R-series

Here’s a tip: To help you remember the filter series, think of: N for “Not resistant to oil” R for “Resistant to oil” P for “oil Proof”

Due to the way small particles behave, extremely small particles and large particles are more easily captured by respiratory filter material. For this reason, testing and rating of respiratory masks are completed by determining the percentage of 0.3 μm size particles as they are the most likely to pass through the filter material.

For example:

  • A mask rated 95 (i.e. N95) is 95% filter efficient when tested with ~0.3 μm test substance
  • A mask rated 99 (i.e. R99) is at least 99% filter efficient when tested with ~0.3 μm test substance
  • A mask rated 100 (i.e. P100) is at least 99.97% filter efficient when tested with ~0.3 μm test substance

Man wearing a Chemical cartridge respirator

Chemical cartridge respirators

These respirators have a chemical cartridge and may also be used in combination with a particulate filter. The chemical cartridge contains a substance that has the ability to collect molecules of another substance by a process known as sorption. A combination of filters can provide protection against different kinds of contaminants in the air[iv]. It is critical that the correct filter is selected.

For simplicity of identification, the industry has developed a colour code that identifies the type of filtration. Some examples are:

  • White = Acid gas
  • Black = Organic vapors
  • Yellow = Acid gas and organic vapors
  • Green = Ammonia or methylamine

Powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs)

These respirators use the same filtration system as other respirators described above but also include a fan to draw air through the filter to the user. They are easier to breathe through but rely on a battery to work properly.

Limits of Use

All respirators have a limited time for use. Particulate filters capture particles, and actually become more efficient until they become too clogged and breathing becomes difficult. Chemical cartridges also become saturated, and will stop working, allowing contaminated air to pass.

Note: It is critical to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how often a respirator or filter needs to be changed.

Fit-testing

A respirator will not protect a worker if it does not fit properly. All respirators that are designed to fit snuggly to the face (known as “tight fitting”) must be properly fit-tested to that worker to ensure that they are getting the correct size. A “fit test” is a procedure that physically tests the seal between the respirator’s face piece and a worker’s face. It must be performed using the same size and model of respirator the worker will actually be using on the job. Fit testing should be performed every year to ensure that people’s facial structure has not changed as a result of a significant weight change.

There are two basic methods of fit testing: qualitative and quantitative.

Probably the most common of the two methods, and frequently used for half-mask respirators, qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail test method that uses a worker’s sense of taste or smell, or a reaction to an irritant, to detect leakage around the respirator. Whether the respirator passes or fails the test is based simply on the worker detecting leakage of the test substance into their respirator.

Quantitative fit-testing uses a machine that creates a negative pressure to measure the actual amount of leakage into the respirator, and is not dependent on worker reaction. During the testing, the respirators are fitted with a probe attached to the respirator that will be connected to the machine by a hose. This testing can be used for any style of tight-fitting respirator.

Note: To ensure a tight fit, workers must be clean shaven, as even a couple days of facial hair growth can compromise the seal.

Finally, fit-testing determines that workers are medically able to wear a tight-fitting respirator. Alternative respiratory protection is available for workers who need accommodations for a non-tight fit model (hood or helmet).


Web banner. Text: CUPE member update

CUPE Member Update: February 14, 2021

creynolds COVID-19 Announcements

Web banner. Text: CUPE member updateDear members:

Along with the rest of CUPE NL’s division executive, I share your concern and anxiety for your well-being, and your family, co-workers and community, in light of the COVID cases announced this week.

We are vigilantly watching the situation around the clock. Meetings have been taking place almost non-stop and your CUPE servicing reps are busy communicating with government, employers and locals to make sure you all remain safe at work.

Your health and safety are our main concern during this difficult time. It’s crucial that your employer takes the new restrictions announced by Dr. Fitzgerald seriously and makes certain that the workplace health and safety precautions needed to limit exposure are in place.

For information about staying safe at work, please visit our website at nl.cupe.ca/covid-19.

Many of you are essential frontline workers. We recognize that you have already been stressed to the maximum and I want to express my gratitude and respect for everything that you do. There are no adequate words to say how valuable you are.

Please contact your local’s servicing rep or local executive to address concerns related to your work or workplace.

For more information, please visit our website nl.cupe.ca and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

Stay safe and stay strong my friends.

In solidarity,

Sherry


Sector Meetings

Weekly sector meetings will resume this week. These meetings are intended for CUPE local leadership only.

Please watch your email for a Zoom invitation with the link needed to join the meeting.

Schedule

SECTOR TIME NOTES
Health Care Tuesdays at 8 PM (NT)
Education Wednesdays at 12:30 PM (NT)
Municipal Mondays at 5 PM (NT) This week’s meeting will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 5 PM (NT)
Social Services Tuesdays at 6:30 PM (NT)

Follow CUPE NL Online

Website: nl.cupe.ca

Facebook: facebook.com/CUPENLFD

Twitter: twitter.com/CupeNL

To subscribe for our email updates sent to the general membership, use the form on our website at nl.cupe.ca.

Web banner. Text: on the frontline. 3 photos: long term care workers

No time to waste to stop spread of COVID-19, says CUPE NL

creynolds COVID-19 Announcements, News Release

Web banner. Text: on the frontline. 3 photos: long term care workersCUPE Newfoundland and Labrador says the provincial government has acted too slowly to stop the spread of COVID-19 since the latest major outbreak, and must pick up the pace before more damage is done.

“This isn’t the time for dragging our feet,” said CUPE NL President Sherry Hillier. “The government needs to act now to contain the spread of this outbreak, and to ensure vulnerable populations are protected. There is no excuse for half measures.”

CUPE is calling on the government to do more to lock down long-term care centres and other facilities that serve susceptible populations, and says the government must prepare to go further if the outbreak extends into schools.

“Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have done an incredible job keeping our communities safe over the past year. We can’t let all that hard work and sacrifice go to waste now.”

 

CUPE flag

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador ratifies collective agreement with Province

creynolds Uncategorized

CUPE flagCUPE Newfoundland Labrador members have ratified an agreement with the provincial government for a two-year extension of current collective agreements. The extended agreements cover the period from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022.

The agreement includes wage increases consistent with the deals reached with other public sector unions in the province, as well as a modest improvement for post-employment benefits for employees hired after March 31, 2020.

“This is a concession-free agreement and we’re pleased with the outcome,” says CUPE NL President Sherry Hillier. “CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador will always resist concessions, two-tier contract provisions, and precarious work.”

CUPE represents approximately 3,700 provincial public service employees who work in health care, long term care, NL Housing, school boards, libraries, Treasury Board and Government House, as well as transition houses and group homes.

Sherry Hillier speaking at an event

CUPE calling on Newfoundland and Labrador School Board Association to complete Good Neighbour Agreement

creynolds COVID-19 Announcements, News Release

Good Neighbour Agreement would enable school support staff to be re-deployed to assist with COVID crisis and prevent job layoffs

St. John’s – The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing school support staff, is calling on the Newfoundland and Labrador School Board Association (NLSBA) to work together to finalize a Good Neighbour Agreement that would provide job protections and enable the Province to re-deploy staff to work where they are most needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sherry Hillier speaking at an eventCUPE NL President Sherry Hillier says, “Discussions about the agreement began in the summer of 2020; however, we have a number of questions that require answers and there are outstanding issues to be resolved before we can sign on.”

“We hope that can happen as soon as possible, to ensure a planned and timely response to the COVID-19 pandemic in our schools. We are also reaching out to the other unions now to try to resume this important piece of work,” adds Hillier.

“CUPE staff representatives have also been trying to get decisions and information from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District since Tuesday, when the new outbreak was announced, from one of our employers, with no answers. It has been very frustrating and we’re disappointed that they have not followed the recommendations given by the Chief Medical Officer and the Province,” says Hillier. “All staff that can work from home should be allowed to do so – immediately.”

“Our school board members are understandably stressed and worried about the situation and we have received many calls and messages from them, asking for direction and expressing how upsetting this is, for themselves and for their families. They have the right to refuse unsafe work,” says Hillier.

CUPE staff representatives will continue to work with locals to address their members’ concerns and to try to get answers from the NLESD.

About CUPE
In all, CUPE represents almost 700 members employed as school support staff at approximately 180 schools across the province. They work as custodians, maintenance, tradespeople, school board office clerical, school secretaries, information technologists, and program assistants. In the Avalon region, CUPE represents approximately 500 members who work at 124 schools.

Sherry Hillier, CUPE NL president

A message from Sherry Hillier on the announcement of COVID-19 outbreak

creynolds COVID-19 Announcements

Dear members:

Along with the rest of CUPE NL’s division executive, I share your concern and anxiety for your well-being, and your family, co-workers and community, in light of the COVID cases announced yesterday and today.

We are vigilantly watching the situation around the clock. Meetings have been taking place almost non-stop since yesterday’s announcement and your CUPE servicing reps are busy communicating with employers and locals to make sure you all remain safe at work.

It’s crucial that your employer takes the new restrictions announced by Dr. Fitzgerald seriously and makes certain that the workplace health and safety precautions needed to limit exposure are in place.

Many of you are essential frontline workers. We recognize that you have already been stressed to the maximum and I want to express my gratitude and respect for everything that you do. There are no adequate words to say how valuable you are.

We’ll have more to say about this new crisis in the near future and we’ll be sharing more information with you soon.

Stay safe and stay strong my friends.

In solidarity,
Sherry
Web banner: CUPE celebrates Black History Month

Honouring the contributions of Black Newfoundlanders and Labradorians

creynolds Human Rights

In 1995, Parliament officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada and we have celebrated the contributions of Black Canadians all across the country ever since.

It is important that we make space to learn about the contributions, successes, and achievements of our Black citizens because Canada has a history marked with achievements from Black Canadians, but our history is also one marred by racism.

As Canadians, we pride ourselves on our historical involvement in the Underground Railroad. We believe our country was seen as a shining beacon to the north where everyone could live free. We often fail to recognize that slavery existed here for hundreds of years, or that many of the Black people who came on the underground railroad found conditions not much better for Black people. In fact, many who came to Canada returned to the United States after the American Civil War.

Throughout the year, CUPE members should commit to learning more about the Black citizens of both Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador.

For instance, did you know that the Honourable Jean Augustine was the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament?
It was her motion in 1995 that resulted in the Black History Month that we celebrate today.

Did you know that island of Newfoundland has historic ties to the slave trade?
Visit The Rooms website to learn more about the 19 slave ships that were built on the island and how our traditional food is tied to the movement of people and goods in the Atlantic.

What else can CUPE members do to honour Black members?
Visit our national website for information on ways to learn, act and bargain.


Web banner: CUPE celebrates Black History Month

 

Web banner for Black History Month: Jennifer Hodge de Silva

Sherry Hillier speaking at an event

CUPE joins call to release PERT report before voters go to election polls

creynolds News Release

Sherry Hillier speaking at an event“Voters should know what is in the Premier’s economic recovery plan before they decide how to cast their vote in the upcoming provincial election,” says CUPE NL President Sherry Hillier. “It would seem that the Premier is avoiding questions from workers, since has declined the invitation to participate in the election forum to be held this evening.”

“We hope that all workers, unionized and non-unionized, will watch or take part in the virtual election forum tonight at 7:30 p.m., hosted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour,” says Hillier. “Workers must have the opportunity to make their voices heard and truly represented in the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team report.”

The forum will be moderated by NTV News Legislative Reporter Michael Connors. Political party leaders and candidates participating in the forum include NDP Leader Alison Coffin, PC Leader Ches Crosbie, as well as Siobhan Coady who will represent the Liberals. Watch the live stream on Facebook at facebook.com/NLFED or at https://live.webcastcanada.ca/go/forum.

“The Premier had it in his power to fix the problems that Federation of Labour President Mary Shortall listed when she, rightfully, decided to resign from the PERT committee. It’s a shame that the Premier chose not to address her concerns and make changes to the mandate that he gave to the PERT committee, which will ensure transparency, true collaboration, and that all perspectives will help shape our economy, for many generations to come” says Hillier.