RESPECT! Ottawa J4J Newsletter – September 2021

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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – September 30th

Recently, the Government of Canada passed legislation for a new Federal holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation which will be observed for the first time on September 30th.

This holiday is conceived as a day for Canadians to reflect on the tragic and violent legacy of residential schools in Canada that indigenous children were forced to leave their families to attend. The death and damage to communities that resulted from these policies continues to be uncovered. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s 2015 report contained 94 calls to action, one of which was the establishment of this holiday.

While this is an important opportunity to honour survivors and their families, this Federal holiday will not result in a paid holiday for the majority of our members who are provincially regulated. This holiday is not being recognized by the province of Ontario as a statutory holiday and it is not mentioned in our collective agreements. For many of our members, their buildings will remain open and the day will continue to be a regular work day. For those who work in federal government offices and buildings, in many cases these buildings will be closed.

If your building is closed causing a change in your work schedule, your employer is required to give written notice 14 days in advance. If it is unclear whether you are to work that day or whether you will be paid if you cannot work, please ask your supervisor. In most cases, workers are free to use vacation or personal days to replace your income if forced to have the day off unpaid.

Mandatory Vaccination Policies

With the widespread availability of both doses of vaccinations through the summer, many employers and their clients have begun announcing and enforcing mandatory vaccination policies.

The union is carefully monitoring these policies to ensure that they address this health and safety issue in the workplace. We expect workers to be given clear and reasonable timelines for compliance with any policy without unnecessarily harsh consequences.
While there is some possibility of accommodations being granted from vaccination policies on medical or religious exemptions, these exemptions will likely require documentation that will be highly scrutinized. Accommodations resulting from a granted exemption will still require regular negative testing. Based on all the information currently available, there may not be many exemptions granted on these grounds.

We encourage all workers to get two doses of vaccine as soon as possible for their own safety and for the safety of their co-workers. This is also the best way to avoid compliance issues with these mandatory policies.

If you have questions about compliance to vaccination requirements in your workplace, please call the Union office 613-567-3528.

Upcoming General Membership Meetings

Unfortunately, the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to pose a significant public health concern despite increased vaccination levels. Due to this concern, we must continue to conduct General Membership Meetings online with the Zoom application, rather than in person.

Since the General Membership Meetings are an important forum where we can discuss relevant concerns and issues, the Union is announcing the General Membership Meeting schedule for the remainder of 2021, please see below:

  • Saturday September 25th from 10 AM to 12:00 PM – via Zoom
  • Saturday October 30th from 10 AM to 12:00 PM – via Zoom
  • Saturday November 27th from 10 AM to 12:00 PM – via Zoom

We will be sending emails and text messages with meeting details in advance of each meeting, so please be on the lookout for those. If you have any questions about these meetings or any other issues that you would like to discuss urgently, please call the office (613-567-3528) and leave a message with your name and contact number so we can follow up.

Organizer Message

SEIU Local 2 union workers get stronger every day!
Do you have a second job without a union? Are family and friends working for minimum wage and no benefits?

Help bring them a union! Don’t let managers intimidate them or confuse them about their rights.

Cleaners and janitors are entitled to the health and dental benefits, paid sick days, pay raises, and job security that J4J members in Ottawa have already won!
If you have any questions about a workplace that could be organized, call the union office, meet an organizer, and talk to your friends, family and co-workers about the benefits of being unionized.

We are stronger together and we can win a better future.

In solidarity,
SEIU Local 2 – Ottawa Staff
Joanne Dumoulin – Executive Assistant
Belkis Casado-Daly – Organizer
Ranyodh Singh – Union Representative
Chris Lee – Union Representative