CUPE 3913 Statement on Return to Campus Concerns

To CUPE 3913 Members,

We met with the University this week to discuss the concerns our members have brought to us recently regarding back to campus protocols.

Before we start, we want to emphasize that an ongoing communication flow between members, the Union, and the University is essential. Any incident or situation that raises health and safety concerns for members needs to be reported to us as soon as possible.

We want to assure you that any communications with us will be kept in confidence. The only information we would need to pass on to the University in the case of a potential violation is: (a) the nature and location of the incident; (b) the date/time; (c) Your Unit Number (1 or 2), and (d) the course code, if applicable.

Please report any incident or situation to Jeff Cornelissen (labourrelations@cupe3913.on.ca), Iftekhar Chowdhury (hs@cupe3913.on.ca), or Scott Duchesne (president@cupe3913.on.ca). The more information we have, the better we can serve and represent you to the University about incident patterns or potentially extreme situations. 

Issues Concerning Accommodations

As you may know, your status as a CUPE 3913 member and as a student are two different roles, and as such seeking accommodations for either role has two separate processes. We have expressed our member’s confusion around these processes, and the University has told us they will clarify  these processes in a communication with members. In the meantime, if you have any accommodation issues, please contact Jeff Cornelissen (labourrelations@cupe3913.on.ca).

Issues Around Remote / In-Person Accommodations

The University has expressed their requirement for every course to have a balance of in-person and remote elements, and have stated that there is space for flexibility within that balance. However, they have made it clear that they don’t see themselves as a “virtual University” (though we did not ask them to become one), and that in-person elements need to be a part of every course. 

In this case (as with many others), the University is asserting their “managerial rights” for which we have no immediate recourse. However, the more information we have, the more grievances we can potentially file, and the more material we have in drafting proposals for bargaining next year.

We made it clear to the University that it is our expectation that all workplaces on campus to be clean and safe, and that we will report and grieve any incident or situation in which members feel otherwise. This includes, but is not limited to, issues of cleanliness, class size, and remote options to accommodate both members and students.

PPE Availability

The University assured the Union that there is no shortage of PPE equipment on their end, and that if individuals are concerned about the availability of PPE in their department or college, they should contact their Chair and/or Dean to alert them of any shortages. If this process does not resolve the issue, please contact Jeff, Iftekhar, or Scott, and we will inform the University.

HVAC / Filtration Issues

If you have any questions or concerns about HVAC and/or filtration systems on campus, please contact Scott (president@cupe3913.on.ca), and he will pass on your questions/concerns to the president of CUPE 1334, whose members work on these systems. Scott will relate their answers to the inquiring members, and, if needed, to the membership.

In-Classroom COVID-19 Issues

While the University has generally addressed issues of in-class incidents in which a student exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 and refuses to leave, the Union requested clarification concerning “in the moment” guidance from the University for members who may find themselves in such a situation. When they provide clarification, we will offer additional information. 

Last, I wish to reiterate that our work as a Union depends a great deal on the willingness of members to submit reports in confidence on incidents and situations that they believe affects their health and safety. The more we know, the more powerful our presentation to the University will be.

In solidarity,

Iftekhar Chowdhury, Health and Safety Officer

Jeff Cornelissen, Labour Relations Coordinator

Scott Duchesne, President 

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