Joint Statement: Keeping Health Care Workers Safe during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

gmcneil Occupational Health & Safety

The following is a joint statement issued today by the Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador (RNU), the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the Association of Allied Health Professionals (AAHP).

Our province’s health care workers are committed to providing the best and safest care possible to patients. Health care workers are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and we must keep them safe.

Labour organizations representing health care workers are calling for the Provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Regional Health Authorities to protect health care workers and their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this pandemic, protection of our most valuable resource – the human resource – is of paramount importance. With conflicting scientific evidence of how COVID-19 is transmitted, the precautionary principle – to err on the side of caution – must be followed.Read More

COVID-19 UPDATE: March 18, 2020

gmcneil Occupational Health & Safety

Right to Refuse

CUPE has been receiving many questions from members who want to know how the current COVID-19 pandemic may affect their right to refuse. As a worker in Newfoundland and Labrador, you have the legal right to refuse unsafe work, according to Section 45 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the work, tool, or equipment is dangerous to you or another person’s health and safety.

Here’s how you can refuse unsafe work:Read More

Let’s look out for each other

gmcneil Health and Safety

During these uncertain times we are thankful for the work of CUPE members that keep our public services available to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, even while more and more private sector workplaces close or delay operations.

Our Health Care members are on the front lines of the struggle to contain COVID-19 and protect the health of the public; we see your efforts and you have the gratitude of all of CUPE. Please know, we will continue to advocate for your protection while you are working to protect the rest of us.

To our members who staff our libraries, community services, public buildings and schools; you are the glue that binds this province together and keeping you safe and informed is our top priority. To our members in the municipal sector; the services you provide literally keep our communities running and your dedication to your work is worthy of celebration.Read More

Important information on COVID-19

gmcneil Health and Safety

The following letter from CUPE National President Mark Hancock and National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury contains important information on the novel coronavirus and a link to our national website where updates will be posted.

We are also including a link to the NL Government web page on COVID-19 which includes protocols for public safety and up-to-date information on the spread of the virus.

Our members’ safety and well being is our priority during these uncertain times, and we will do our best to keep you informed as this situation evolves.

TO ALL CUPE CHARTERED ORGANIZATIONS

Last week the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, a global pandemic.

We recognize this is causing great concern for our members, many of whom are on the front lines providing care and support to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Public services are the backbone of a safe and healthy community, and are never more important than in the face of a crisis. We have always been proud of the work our members do despite the many challenges they face, including chronic underfunding and austerity measures by governments. We want to acknowledge that work today as you help your communities navigate this new crisis, while dealing with your own challenges and family responsibilities.

It is important that our members know that their union will be there for them throughout this crisis. In the coming weeks, our members may face closures, cancellations and quarantines that impact their work and their workplaces. As always, CUPE staff are available to help ensure our members’ rights and benefits are fully protected. The work of our union continues, and COVID-19 does nothing to change that.

We know that spring is a busy season for union meetings. CUPE locals should check advisories from local and provincial public health agencies before making decisions to cancel or postpone meetings and events. Democratic principles of accountability and transparency remain important, and staff are available to assist in the application and interpretation of the National Constitution and your bylaws.

CUPE will continue to monitor the situation, and will make decisions about whether to proceed with upcoming national meetings, courses, and events as required.

CUPE will be posting updates for our members as they become available on our website at https://cupe.ca/search/COVID. We recommend checking back regularly.

Stay safe, and stay strong.

In solidarity,

MARK HANCOCK
National President

CHARLES FLEURY
National Secretary-Treasurer

Information from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on COVID-19

For Information on COVID-19 including how to recognize symptoms, how to protect yourself, protocols for self-isolation, travel information and updated information on the spread of the virus go to: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/

Cancelled: 2020 Atlantic Weeklong School June 21-26

gmcneil Workshop

— CANCELLED —

CUPE Atlantic’s Weeklong School will be held this year at the highly acclaimed White Point Beach Resort on the South Shore, in Queens county:  https://www.whitepoint.com/.

The following programs are being offered:

Program 1/ Pensions: The nitty gritty, the political context, the paradox.

Program 2/ Health & Safety: Introduction and the basics along with political action, including concerns about the health of our environment.

Program 3/ Social Media: All you need to know to hone your new media skills; spark your public speaking fire; and learn how to mobilize at election time.

Program 4/ Navigating Interpersonal and Group Conflict: Conflict is a part of our lives at work, in the union, and at home. In this workshop we’ll build our conflict skills by looking at belief systems, sources, and developing skills to best respond to challenging dynamics.

Tentative Itinerary:

  • Members should try to arrive by Sunday, June 21st at 3:00 pm.
  • Registration will begin at 4:30 pm on Sunday, June 21st, and a meet and greet will follow later-on in the evening.
  • Workshops will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

Details will be up on the CUPE National website soon so please ask your locals to stay-tuned.

New College seats for LPNs and PCAs in Newfoundland and Labrador promise an end to mandated overtime

gmcneil Long term care

Troy Turner/CBC

Licensed Practical Nurses and Personal Care Attendants in Newfoundland and Labrador got some good news last week when Government announced it will be expanding training programs at College of the North Atlantic campuses this September.

CUPE has been calling for an improved recruitment strategy to alleviate the extreme workloads that LPNs and PCAs have been carrying at the Bay St. George Long Term Care Centre in Stephenville Crossing for the past few years due to insufficient staffing.

Things got really bad last year according to CUPE 4935 President Theresa Gillam. “Some days there were up to six people per shift being mandated to work overtime,” she says. “Working an additional four to eight hours on the end of a 12-hour shift is exhausting. We are tired and injuries are happening more often.”Read More

Local 3768 reaches agreement with Town of Holyrood

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

HOLYROOD – Employees at the Town of Holyrood have ratified a new collective agreement and returned to work today after being locked out by the employer for 10 days. The members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3768, are happy to be back delivering the services that town residents count on and are very grateful for all of the support residents showed them during the lockout.

The new three-year agreement includes a 6.5 per cent wage increase. CUPE National Rep Ed White say the members are satisfied that the wage increase is a step in the right direction towards closing the gap between wages in Holyrood and those in municipalities of comparable size in the province.

The 15 employees provide snow clearing, water and sewage treatment, and clerical and accounting services to the town.

Holyrood Mayor’s comments misleading and insulting, says CUPE

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

Locked out municipal employees at the Town of Holyrood are upset that Mayor Gary Goobie would portray them as being unreasonable, says Canadian Union of Public Employees National Representative Ed White. “In fact, the last offer that CUPE Local 3768 put on the table was more than reasonable,” White says. “Our counter offer of about 9 per cent would bring wages to approximately the same level as wages in Placentia, a town of comparable size with a comparable budget.

“That is what I call comparing apples to apples,” White adds, referring to recent comments by the Mayor saying that the union was comparing apples to oranges. “In fact, it was the Mayor who was comparing apples to oranges, by comparing the union’s opening position with the employer’s last position in his comments to the media.”

White says the union members are offended the Mayor would imply that they would withdraw services without giving notice. “At no point in bargaining or conciliation did the Town request that we provide a notice period prior to taking strike action,” says White. “This is a standard request that I am sure the union would have considered, and which would have given the Town ample time to put an alternate plan in place.

“It is interesting how quickly the Mayor moved to lock out the employees and contract out the work,” White adds, “especially in light of the fact that the snow clearing operations seem to have been contracted out to a company owned by the Deputy Mayor and his brother.”

White says the employees would like to apologize for any hardship the lockout will have on residents of Holyrood. “They are very dedicated to their jobs,” says White, “as was obvious during last month’s State of Emergency, which crippled other towns while Holyrood stayed open. The Mayor himself is on record praising the workers who went above and beyond to keep the roads clear and stores open during near impossible conditions. I guess this lockout is his way of saying thanks.”

Holyrood municipal employees locked out by employer

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

Municipal workers at the Town of Holyrood have been locked out by their employer after several failed attempts at conciliation. The 15 employees, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3768, voted in favour of strike action just hours before arriving at work this morning to locked facilities.

CUPE National Representative Ed White says the union has been trying to bring wages for heavy equipment officers closer to the rates being offered by surrounding municipalities.

“The wages that are being offered by the employer in the first year are not even close to closing the gap,” says White. “We aren’t looking for parity with St. John’s, where equipment operators make about $6 per hour more. But we would like to get close to the wages earned in comparable municipalities like Placentia and Conception Bay South.

“The Town’s offer of $1.32 more per hour over three years is insulting to these employees who go above and beyond every day to make sure the residents of Holyrood have safe roads, clean water and quality services.”

White says the employees are quite upset at not being able to provide services to the town, “especially this time of year with the number of storms we have been having. But their hands are tied by the employer’s decision to lock them out instead of returning to the bargaining table with a fair offer.”

The employees provide snow clearing, water and sewage treatment, and clerical and accounting services to the town.

CUPE NL will not apologize for representing its members

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

The lead negotiator for CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador, Ed White, says he is extremely disappointed that Finance Minister Tom Osborne would imply that CUPE is attempting to influence another union’s ratification process.

“Our communications about our intent to bargain did not just come out of the blue,” White says. “Government presented us with a copy of NAPE’s tentative agreement on December 23, and after consulting our members, we formally notified Government on January 7 that we would not be extending our collective agreements. Our members have clearly instructed us that they wish to sit down and bargain with their individual employers.”

White says that the timing of CUPE’s notice to bargain has nothing to do with NAPE’s ratification vote, but rather to do with government offices and the CUPE office being closed by the storm and the State of Emergency.

“It was important that we serve notice to bargain as early as possible, and that happened to be early this week,” White says. “It is disturbing that the Minister would imply that our communications with government and our members has been anything less than ethical.”

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Sherry Hillier adds: “A union is responsible for representing its members to the best of its ability. We will do that and we will not apologize for that.”