Update from the President and Executive of CUPE Local 955:
The last few months have been like nothing any of us have experienced in our lifetimes. We had a rather typical winter and the in the middle of March our world changed. Suddenly and without warning, we were placed in a State of Emergency and the Provincial government ordered that all schools be closed. None of us really knew what that meant. Our entire workforce was put on paid Administrative Leave. I would Like to commend all of the Staff who continued to work, making sure that all of our buildings were safe, secure and healthy while potentially putting themselves at risk. Others were asked to perform duties that were quite different from their normal jobs. CUPE Locals in the education sector across the Province were all able to secure and maintain this paid Admin Leave for all employees. Employees in other sectors were not as lucky as we were.
Throughout this period CUPE and the SRCE were in regular contact and worked to deal with any concerns in a cordial and respectful manner.
The TA Assignment Forum was originally held on June 2&3. However, the Forum did not proceed as outlined in our Collective Agreement and several issues were raised. This meant that the entire Forum would have to be redone. After following the procedure in our Collective Agreement, the Forum was done a second time on June 25&26. One hundred and four positions were available. One person declined to participate and three more were unable to secure positions within a reasonable travel distance. Nine vacancies remain and will be posted over the summer.
We currently have one grievance which will be going to arbitration. Arbitration dates are scheduled for October.
At the moment, neither CUPE nor the SRCE are unable to say what September will look like. Until further direction is given by the Province, nobody knows what will happen.
Because of the restrictions on Public gatherings, we were unable to conduct our Spring General Meeting and Elections. CUPE National has allowed us to delay our elections until the fall. Elections will be taking place in September. If we are not able to meet face-to-face there will be some other form of an Election. It will be either electronically, by mail in ballot or some combination of the two.
I would like to wish all CUPE955 members a happy, healthy and enjoyable summer.
I wish that I could provide better information and guidance. Please continue to watch this page for updates
President-CUPE Local 955
If you have any questions regarding the Treasurer’s Reports, please contact Secretary-Treasurer, Kelly Connors
MEMBER UPDATE FROM GRANT DART-CUPE NS EDUCATION SECTOR COORDINATOR
June 29, 2020
We want to start with a huge thank you to all members of the sector for all the work you do and continue to do through these unprecedented times. Unfortunately, far too often we hear in the media some other union being thanked and us as CUPE not getting the recognition you all deserve so much. So, we want to say thank you to the education workers of the province for not only the front line work you have continued to perform but also to our members who have adapted their work to meet the new needs of education and those who have stepped up and even volunteered outside our sector to work with those affected the hardest in this pandemic. To you all, we say a huge thank you!!! Please know that your work is respected and appreciated, if not always recognized publicly as it should be.
On behalf of CUPE, we also want to thank your executive and staff reps as they have continued to fight for your rights behind the scenes to make sure your health and safety, working conditions, pay and benefits have all gone forward without interruption. This has been a great achievement for us as a sector, and you and your locals should be proud of all the work you have done.
In regard to health and safety, we need to say a special thank you to Sister Jenna Brookfield who, despite being busy beyond words, has continued to provide information and answer any and all questions as they came forward. I encourage everyone to look at the question and answer document that was prepared for our sector as we move forward, to have a full understanding of our rights and what is the best practice for keeping us safe. All of your locals have this document, and if it is not posted in your workplaces, please contact your local executives to get a copy.
As we move forward, we appreciate that we are still facing great uncertainty about the next school year. There are many questions and few answers to this point but know that CUPE is still working towards those answers, and you will have them as soon as we do. Here are a few of the concerns we are hearing:
My employer is not putting a return to work date on my seasonal layoff ROE. Is this something CUPE can control and what is the outcome?
No, we are not in charge of that process and nothing in our Collective Agreement speaks to ROEs. This is an employer and Department of Education decision and was shared with the Union as a courtesy not as a bargaining or discussion item. That said, CUPE has and will continue to take the position that extending or changing the lay off period in any way has Collective Agreement ramifications. As such, we will impose those changes. CUPE has also been asked to sit on a committee as a stakeholder in education to look at what the next school year may look like. As we do so, we will continue to raise these issues to make sure our members’ best interests in all aspects of work are looked after and can only hope that those messages are heard and respected by the employers and the powers that be.
Does wording in my Collective Agreement protect me against and extended seasonal lay off?
As stated above, the Union will continue to argue that provisions of our Collective Agreement would be affected by the change in the lay off period and will oppose any changes to that period. It is important to remember at this time while there is no report back to work date on our ROEs, at no time to this point, has anyone said that there is a potential change to that either. As we move forward towards the upcoming school year, CUPE will keep all members updated on where we may find ourselves and of the actions taken by your Union if needed.
Are all school board employees facing this same uncertainty?
CUPE has no influence or knowledge of how the summer period is covered under the NSTU or other unions’ Collective Agreements. As such, all we can do is protect our members as best we can, going forward.
What about my benefit and pension coverage?
If your benefits are covered by the NSSBA (now the NSECSB), that structure has provisions that are built in for the shutdown provisions of the school year and this period will be the same. In the past, we have also built in provisions should there be an unexpected period of interruption in the school year and how those benefits will be covered. Should you not be in the NSECEB plan you should contact your employer. Your plan should be fine as well, as all the School Board plans are based off those breaks in active employment and have their own built in mechanisms of dealing with the breaks. Should you have any concerns then please contact your local executive or staff rep assigned, and we will look into those issues as needed to make sure you are protected.
Applying for EI?
We are being told this is not the first time a Board or Education Center has not put a potential return to work date on the ROEs given to employees, and at that time, there were no negative effects. As CUPE we would point out that this should be considered a normal lay off practice as has happened every year of your employment to this date. CUPE is suggesting you treat it as such and be very aware of the rules and obligations should you apply for or receive any benefits that would fall outside your normal.
CUPE will commit to working on behalf of all our members as we look towards the next school year and what that may bring. For many of you, this means the start to a well- deserved break in your work schedules. Please take the time to enjoy that, knowing we as a union are still here. For those who continue to work through the summer, do so, confident that CUPE continues to be here to face any and all challenges the summer will bring.
Please have a safe and healthy summer, enjoy the weather and the time that is yours. As a union and with your support, we will continue to be successful as a sector now and moving forwards.
CUPE NS Education Coordinator
Message to Regional Education Centres and School Board Employees
We hope you, your families, loved ones and friends are all keeping safe and healthy through these new and ever-changing times.
Your Local Executive has been incredibly active over the last few weeks, not only on a Local level but as a provincial voice, dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the Education Sector and you, our members. The focus of our work has been on maintaining not only your Collective Agreement rights, but also ensuring that the health and safety concerns you have been bringing forward are being addressed, and measures to resolve them have been implemented. After much negotiation, your Local Executive has negotiated terms and conditions to address the questions and concerns that have come from Education Sector members in regard to health and safety and your work during this pandemic.
As our province, loved ones, and neighbours deal with the harsh realities of this current situation, it is important to look at where we in the Education Sector find ourselves. Unlike many of our family, friends and neighbours, who have been laid off or even let go, at this time we are still receiving full pay while working from home. We need to count ourselves among the very lucky few who know where the next pay cheque is coming from. We find ourselves in this position thanks to the great work your Local Executives and CUPE have done behind the scenes on your behalf. While we count ourselves as frontline workers, today other frontline workers who are essential to providing Health Care, Home Care and Community Services roles, are still at work doing the jobs they have always done, with the same love and conviction. But now they must work with much more diligence and don personal protective equipment to make sure that at the end of the day, they have the ability to return to their loved ones at home.
Workers in many classifications have brought to our attention that Employers are asking more and more of us to return to working either in the regular workplace, in the normal capacity, or in some position that may involve a new remote capacity. Your Local and CUPE have been made aware of these circumstances and have raised concerns where we saw them. We strongly urge everyone to bring forward any issues or concerns you may have to your Local as promptly as possible, so together we can figure out what this all looks like. As a Union we are committed to finding answers to the questions or concerns you raise.
We have heard from many CUPE members in the School Board Sector that they wish there was something they could do to help out their fellow Nova Scotians, while making sure that they are safe and not doing anything that negatively affects their regular Employer or Union. It is because of that desire to help each other, that your Local has entered into an agreement, ONLY during this time of Emergency, that lets those who wish to volunteer, be able to work in other sectors and workplaces to help out where help is needed. If you are one of those volunteers, your Collective Agreement, Pension, and Benefits all follow you in whatever workplace you find yourself. In addition, you are guaranteed your regular wage, but if the new workplace/employer pays its workers more in the classification you are assigned to, you will receive the higher wage. You will also receive payment for any mileage you may be out of pocket for travel (additional distance you have to travel).
For those of you who follow the Provincial Update, or CUPE Nova Scotia on the website (https://novascotia.cupe.ca/) or social media, you will know there is an urgent need for help with Northwood, a long-term care home in Halifax. The request for assistance can be found here: https://novascotia.cupe.ca/2020/04/19/urgent-recruitment-to-northwood-halifax-covid-19-outbreak-lpn-and-cca/.
We strongly encourage any member who wishes to volunteer to reach out to your Local Executive in order to fully understand all your rights and obligations, as well as make sure we, as CUPE, can continue to ensure all the needed protections are in place in order for you to perform any new positions safely. In the future you may find your Employer reaching out to you directly asking if you would like to volunteer to take other roles. We ask that if that should happen, you reach out to your Local Executive to let them know this is taking place. CUPE has been told that the Locals will be made aware of all such requests. However, we will need you to keep us aware of all such offers so that we can provide you with all the information we may have on these situations so you can make informed decisions.
We want to thank you for your support of your Union through these ever-changing times. Together, as always, we will get though these times of uncertainty. And we commit to you as a Union, that we will be there with you, as you keep us informed of what is happening in your workplaces, to make sure we all move forward as safely and as united as we can.
Clarification for TAs regarding the provision of Respite Care April 1, 2020
Please see the note below from HR Director, Janice Gough:
Good Morning Teachers Assistants and Child and Youth Practitioners;
I am writing to provide some clarity with respect to a recent announcement regarding respite care employment opportunities for some education entity employees.
A comment was contained in a news release on Monday March 30, 2020 https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20200330004 stating the province was considering modifying existing policies and agreements that would allow Teacher Assistants and Child and Youth Care Practitioners in our system to voluntarily provide paid respite care within the community.
While we are taking steps to explore this as a possible opportunity for education sector staff, I can confirm that there is no change in any of the employment/pay commitments communicated previously within our system. Put another way, any decision by a Teacher Assistant or CYCP to assist families in this area will not impact employee status or income from the RCE/CSAP. Staff from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development are working with representatives of the Department of Community Services and Public Health on this item and it will not move forward without prior approval of Public Health.
We recognize the uncertainty that this current situation is placing on all of us. As additional information becomes available, we will communicate broadly.
Once again, thank you for your ongoing patience, concern, and continued commitment to our students. This is truly unchartered territory where we are learning ourselves as we go forward together. Please continue to follow recommendations from Public Health Services and to be safe in your daily practices.
Please direct any follow-up questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Human Resources
Strait Regional Centre for Education
COVID-19 Update March 30, 2020
As you are aware the Province has extended the school closure until May 1, 2020. CUPE has received assurance from the government that all employees who are currently on paid Administrative Leave will continue to be paid for the extended closure period. As was stressed earlier, this is not Vacation time and employees may be called to work as needed, provided such work falls within the safe work procedures that are in place.
COVID-19 and the Right to Refuse unsafe work
ATTENTION ALL MEMBERS:
The following comes from from CUPE Nova Scotia’s Health and Safety Representative:
We now know that some members who work as custodians will be at work this week and assigned to provide access control to the schools. It is our understanding that only limited staff and specific grade 12 students will be granted access and that it will be done by appointment to avoid crowds. To protect your health and safety and practice the measures recommended by public health officials each school will need to develop a protocol on how access control will be managed to avoid contact and limit proximity to those staff and students entering the building.
We encourage all members to discuss the protocols for their school with their supervisor/principal before this work begins to ensure appropriate precautions are in place and we remind our members that subject to section 17(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, workers who believe any aspect of the workplace is or may be dangerous to the employee’s health or safety or that of any other person at the workplace, are required to immediately report the hazard to a supervisor. Furthermore; in the event a worker believes the work they have been assigned is likely to endanger the employee’s health or safety or the health or safety of any other person; the worker has the right under section 43(1) to refuse that work by immediately reporting the refusal, and reasons for the refusal, to their supervisor.
CUPE believes this work can be completed safely with adequate planning by school administration and good communication and direction to those involved in the work. In the event the planning or communication is inadequate we would strongly encourage our members to contact their CUPE local for assistance or if time does not permit, to report to their supervisor as detailed above or in the event of a dangerous situation, be aware of their right to refuse unsafe work.
Update on COVID-19 Issues
Here is the information that we have from our Employer as of March 16, 2020:
Good Evening SRCE Staff:
I am writing to provide some additional information to staff regarding closures related to COVID-19.
As previously shared, public schools will remain closed in Nova Scotia for the two (2) weeks following March Break. This decision has been made in consultation with Public Health to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Permanent, probationary and term employees and long-term substitutes/casual/spares who have been consistently working in the same position/replacing the same person and were scheduled to work during the closure period will continue to receive pay during the closure period. The only exceptions to this would be employees who are currently or previously on extended leave (unrelated to COVID-19). Day to day subs with time booked during the 2-week shutdown period will not be paid during the school closure period.
During the school closure periods post March Break, we are asking all staff not to travel; this paid leave period is not vacation, and we are currently working on strategies to ensure learning and other services can continue. While we recognize that some positions are more easily able to work from home than others, it is our expectation that all staff remain available to work from home and in some cases, there may be times when working from another location or an employee’s regular work location may be required.
We are currently working through the details of scheduling alternate working arrangements for our employees, including working from home options and alternative schedules where services must continue in our buildings and offices. Your supervisor will be in contact to provide information as soon as possible.
Should an employee become sick or start to display symptoms during this period of time, they should report this to their immediate supervisor as soon as reasonably possible. Additionally, in an effort to alleviate any further burden on our Health System, employees will not be asked for medical notes at this time. While we have not made any determinations surrounding proof of out of country travel at this time, it is prudent for employees to maintain this information.
We understand staff have several questions during this period of time. Additional information will be shared with staff as it becomes available.
New RICHMOND VP
Congratulations to new Richmond Unit VP, Mr. Clair Rankin from St. Peters and to Nancy Marchand who was elected as Unit Secretary-Treasurer. A special thank goes out to Kelsey Bowman-White for allowing her name to stand for election. Thank you to all who came out on a cold Saturday morning on a long weekend.
Import Update for Richmond Unit Members
Due to unforeseen circumstances the Special Meeting to hold Unit Elections, the date and time have been changed. The new date is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2020 at 10:00 AM. The location is still REC/A in Louisdale. Be sure to come out.
SPECIAL MEETING – RICHMOND UNIT
There will be a Special Meeting for members of the Richmond Unit of CUPE Locall 955 to hold Unit Elections. Offices up for election are : Unit Vice-.President and Unit Secretary-Treasurer.
The meeting will take place on Saturday, February 8 at 11:00 AM. The location will be at Richmond Education Centre/Academy.
The Fall General Meeting for CUPE Local 955 will be held on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 10:00 am in the Cafeteria at S.A.E.R.C. in Port Hawkesbury
New Contract Signed
The Negotiating Committee for CUPE Local 955 and representatives for the Strait Regional Centre for Education met on August 28, 2019 and officially signed our new Collective Agreement. We would like to thank CUPE’s Education Coordinator and Lead Negotiator, Grant Dart, for all of his work leading to this Agreement.
The Executive of CUPE Local 955 are pleased to announce the Membership has voted to accept the proposed agreement with the Strait Regional Centre for Education. We would like to thank all of those who came out under short notice to exercise their right to be heard and to vote.
CUPE Local 955 and the Strait Regional Centre For Education have reached a tentative contract agreement.
A meeting will be held this SUNDAY JUNE 23 to review the proposed contract changes and to conduct a ratification vote.
This meeting will be held at 1:00 pm in the SAERC Auditorium in Port Hawkesbury.
Please make every effort to attend this very important meeting
Local 955 Member Update June 11th, 2019
Dear Local 955 Members:
Please be advised that the Provincial Bargaining Table has reached a tentative agreement. One of the issues agreed upon was to reopen Local Table negotiations on certain specific issues. The Center for Education has agreed to go back to the table on June 20th (tentative). Grant Dart, CUPE School Board Coordinator will lead the Bargaining Committee at the table until a collective agreement is reached.
Subject to further discussion are the following issues:
- Disclosure of member contact information
- New classifications to the Bargaining Unit including:
- Computer Technicians
- Lunch/Bus/Grounds Supervisors
- ECE AND Lead ECE’s
- Child Youth Workers
- Pre- Primary Assistants
- Lead Autobody and Motor Vehicle Repair
- Schools Plus Outreach
Please stay tuned for further updates or notice of ratification meetings following the conclusion of negotiations.
If the collective agreement ratification precedes any Local or area meetings, new members can be sworn in at the ratification meeting. Notice of meeting times and locations will be posted to all locations and on the Local 955 website.
Local 955 President
Notice of Meeting
The Spring General Meeting of CUPE Local 955 will be held on Sunday May 5, 2019
The meeting will be held at S.A.E.R.C. in Port Hawkesbury
Elections will be held for : Recording Secretary and
3 Year Trustee
Please note the change in date. Many of Members had requested a change in the date because our usual June dates conflict with the commencement of many end of School Year activities.
CUPE SURVEY ON SHORT-TERM LEAVE, VACATION AND OTHER LEAVE APPROVALS FOR EDUCATION WORKERS
CUPE is looking for your help. As you are all well aware, there is a constant issue with a lack of spares and absences going unfilled. We are conducting a survey and looking for your input.
The survey can be found here: CUPE SURVEY
If you wish to take part in the survey, you can download a copy , fill it out, and return it by way of the Board Courier to : Donald Stewart c/o Operations.
It cannot be filled out on line. Please have all responses back by April 4, 2019
Fall General Meeting
The Fall General Meeting of CUPE Local 955 will be held on December 8 at 10:00am at S.A.E.R.C. in Port Hawkesbury. A review of proposed changes to the Local Bylaws will be on the Agenda
On October 23, Strait Regional Centre for Education Staff and the CUPE Local 955 Negotiation team met with Mr. Peter Lloyd, a Conciliator from the N.S. Dept. of Labour. Some progress has been made, but we still do not have an agreement at this time.
We thank you and ask for your continued patience. We will advise you when we have more information to present.