SLC Faculty Local 417 Informal Drop-In Meeting Wednesday, August 25, 2021 7:00 – 9:00 PM via Zoom

Questions for your union? Bring them to Stewards and members of the Local 417 Executive Committee.

Agenda includes an update from Local President Grant Currie and a financial update from Treasurer Karen Weisbaum.

President’s Report 

Drop-in Meeting for Local 417 Members

August 25, 2021

Thank you for all those joining us. I am going to go through the statement of respect and then start the meeting by going over a few notes I’ve made. We will post the notes on the website and on the Facebook page after.

Harassment or discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated at OPSEU functions.

Whenever OPSEU members gather, we welcome all peoples of the world. We will not accept any unwelcoming words, actions or behaviours against our union members.

We accord respect to all persons, regardless of age, creed, political affiliation and racialization including and not limited to People of African descent, Black, Caribbean, South Asian, Asian, women, men, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, members of ethno-racial groups, people with disabilities, gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender/transsexual people, and gender diverse persons, francophones and all persons whose first language is not English.

In our diversity we will build solidarity as union members.

If you believe that you are being harassed or discriminated against contact Gillian Axten for immediate assistance.

I am also acknowledging that we are meeting virtually on aboriginal land that has been inhabited by Indigenous peoples from the beginning. As settlers, we’re grateful for the opportunity to meet here and we thank all the generations of people who have taken care of this land – for thousands of years. Long before today, as we gather here, there have been aboriginal peoples who have been the stewards of this place In particular, we acknowledge the traditional territory of the Audenosaunee (Iroquois), Mohawk, Haudenosaunee (St Lawrence Iroquois), Huron-Wendat, and the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people. We recognize and deeply appreciate their historic connection to this place. We also recognize the contributions of Métis, Inuit, and other Indigenous peoples have made, both in shaping and strengthening our communties, and our province and country as a whole. As settlers, this recognition of the contributions and historic importance of Indigenous peoples must also be clearly and overtly connected to our collective commitment to make the promise and the challenge of Truth and Reconciliation real in our communities, and in particular to bring justice for murdered and missing indigenous women and girls across our country

First, I would like to provide a brief financial update. Our expenses have been limited as an LEC. With no meetings, no travel we have been able to save those expenses.

As of today’s date we have $642,888.31 in accounts available to us. Prior to the strike of 2017 we had 744,122.53. We are well prepared to support our members in the event of any labour disruption.

Our audited statements are up to date with our auditors working with Karen Weisbaum, your treasurer. Assisting Karen is Mary Lou McCartney, our Staff Representative out of OPSEU Kingston Regional Office.

Your Local Executive Committee has been meeting regularly on Zoom. The LEC is made up of all the stewards from the three campuses.

Vaccination Policy – We have many, many questions and no policy. It will, we understand be utilizing the SLC Safe App. We have subject matter experts on the LEC who are on top of all issues related to mandatory vaccination. OPSEU and our Divisional Executive have not commented on any policy yet. Your executive is responsible for representing all the members of Local 417 and protecting their rights and ensuring the Collective Agreement is adhered to by management. OCUFA has come out just today with this statement:

Ontario university faculty and academic librarians welcome the announcement from the provincial government that will require vaccination policies for high-risk settings, including postsecondary education institutions.

OCUFA had previously called on the government to implement a required vaccination policy for universities as part of a safe return to campus strategy, along with appropriate accommodations for those with valid reasons to be exempted from the policy.

While it is encouraging to see the Ontario government listen to the advice of health experts and require vaccine policies, it is important to note that, on its own, mandatory vaccination will not be sufficient for the safe return of students, faculty, and staff to campuses. To protect the health and safety of our campus communities, the government must provide appropriate supports to universities to ensure that, among other safeguards, ventilation systems in all campus buildings are working effectively and meet the criteria recommended by public and occupational health authorities.

“A safe return to campus requires a thoughtful and comprehensive provincial strategy that not only includes mandatory vaccination policies, but also proper infrastructure investments, necessary supports for international students, limits on class sizes, and implementation of health and safety measures—including mandatory masking and physical distancing—informed by the most up-to-date science on COVID-19,” said Sue Wurtele, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.

The fall term is only weeks away, giving universities little time to draft these policies, but the details of these policies and how they are developed will be critical.

“The government must ensure that university administrators work with Joint Health and Safety Committees and consult with workers’ and students’ unions as they make important decisions on what a return to campus can look like,” said Wurtele. “These policies must be equitable, transparent, accountable, and be developed in consultation with the campus community.”

Once I receive more information from the OPSEU and our division I will say more. The policy itself is supposed to be available tomorrow. I have been promised it earlier this week; we will see.

I am in pretty constant contact with Chris Garnett and Will McMillan in HR and Labour Relations. The College is trying to wait for some announcement before making a plan. I believe that now they are moving to making a plan for campus and then waiting for an announcement. The plan to my knowledge is limiting the number of students on campus.

We have the health and safety of our members on our minds and we are trying to get a briefing from Beth Sills on what standard they are using to mitigate risks associated with the aerosolization of COVID through the HVAC systems. I have asked that all 3 college Health and Safety Committees get briefed. Nothing has been scheduled yet.

Bargaining will be getting serious in September. Our Bargaining team is very strong and has put together a great package of improvements to the terms and conditions. I will leave it you to review the information on our website. They are continually updating that information as they meet. I am confident that we will see gains in our agreement. While no one wants another labour dispute, we are prepared and fully endorse the team and their proposals

I’ll now open it up for questions. This informal report will be shared with the membership. We will have our stewards monitoring the chat and trying to answer questions as we go. Please use the raise hand feature if you have questions or comments.

In Solidarity,

Grant Currie President, OPSEU Local 417