It certainly feels like a lot has happened in a short period of time this week. We skipped right into summer and while for many of us that helps us deal with some of the restrictions we are facing, it also means we are looking ahead at the coming months to try to figure out what comes next.
Hopefully by now you have all seen the announcement from McMaster regarding going to a virtual fall semester. We appreciate the decision regarding September had to be made sooner rather than later, however, we also are aware that the announcements lack of detail as to what this means for our members may be causing some anxiety as to what will happen to our work. Your local continues to engage with the University to ensure our members are protected. As we get information, we will share it with our membership. It is likely that your supervisor is having conversations with the University to determine what direction each department will be heading in. If you have questions regarding what this announcement means reach out to your supervisor and ask the question.
We also suggest checking in with your supervisor before any trips to campus, even if it is just to pick up required equipment etc. Many of the on-campus buildings are locked and you may not have access to the building. It is also worth noting that buildings that are not supposed to be in use are not being cooled right now and with the recent warm temperatures, those buildings are quite warm.
For members supporting research, we suggest you visit the Return to Research website. Information relating to how and when return to on campus research work be implemented. It will be a bit different for everyone, depending on their role and work requirements, and it won’t be all at once.
For those of you in administrative roles that have been successfully working from home, this is a good time to consider your arrangements and whether or not they are viable for a longer period of time. Many of us have been working in ad-hoc work-spaces, but for many of us working from home will continue well into the fall semester, so we need to consider if what we have set up works for a longer term tenure at home. Reasonable equipment required to work at home should be provided or reimbursed by your department. If you are unsure about what would be considered ‘reasonable’ contact Sarahfirstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you still on campus, or those returning over the coming months, we encourage you to reach out to your Unit Chair if you have questions or concerns. Our Contact Us page has all our Local and Unit contacts. If your concern is related to anything Health and Safety, Jim McAndrew, Health and Safety Coordinator, is your best contact. The local has been keeping abreast of the Public Health and University guidelines for those who have to be on campus. At this point, the first and best safety measure is physical distancing. We have been getting questions about PPE, notably face masks, and at this point they are not required or mandated. However, if you want to wear one while on campus, you are certainly able to do so.
As we mentioned in the Health and Safety Touch-point earlier this week, we welcome the announcement from the Federal Government about working to bring in 10 paid sick days for all workers, and will be following that closely. Your local has also been reaching out to Provincial MPPs and Federal MPs as we see that so many of the measures and supports implemented are leaving gaps that workers fall through.
We have been in communication with the University regarding LTD premiums as we have seen our usage and premium rates rise each year for the past few years. There is no indication that these trends are statistical blips or that we will see reversals of this trajectory. As such we have been exploring what options we have to address the rising LTD costs. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing information on what those options look like, arranging for virtual meetings and ultimately, asking the membership to vote on which option we will go with moving forwards. Keep an eye out for emails on this topic over the coming weeks.
I am sure that it will not come as a surprise that due to the COVID-19 situation we are not moving forward with our Annual Family Picnic at Wild Waterworks. We have also determined we can not go ahead with our Blue Jays Bus trip. While we are disappointed that we are unable to host these events, they are simply not possible under the circumstances. The Recreation Committee is looking to the fall for possible events, and we hope to be able to resume some of our regular events at that point. In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions as to possible COVID proof offerings, please email us at email@example.com.
Lastly, we do want to reiterate that the local is actively engaged in dealing with the various impacts of the COVID-19 measures on our members, but we don’t know the details of every work area unless you bring them to our attention. Your inquiries are confidential, so if you are unsure about something you have had implemented or been told, we will answer your questions as best we can, but further follow up with the University does not happen unless that is the route you want to take. If you have questions, or concerns, please reach out to your unit chair or firstname.lastname@example.org. COVID-19 may have impacted where you work, how you work or if you are working, but it has not changed our commitment to our membership.