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President’s Update September 11

Posted in Unifor 5555

COVID on Campus

Many of you may have heard through the media that there was recently a confirmed case of COVID-19 on campus.  The University response protocols activated as they were intended to, and Public Health took care of any required contact tracing.  Individual members will only be notified by Public Health if there is a risk of exposure.  The University will not be notifying staff in a targeted way; however, they have launched some new information on their website.  The COVID cases page will contain information on the number of confirmed cases on campus.  They have a page outlining processes and responsibilities for those who are on campus.

There has been some discussion relating to what back to in class learning looks like for our members and their families.  At this point, for our members already working from home, if you are facing a need to self-isolate due to public health guidelines/recommendation, it will have lesser impact.  However, for those who are not working from home, the self-isolation period is not considered to be part of your sick time coverage.  If you have a child sent home from school to self isolate, or due to any school closures, time off work will not be paid unless you are able to utilize vacation or personal days.  If you do not have an option to utilize vacation or personal days speak with your supervisor to identify a solution for you to be paid and perhaps either pay the time back or draw on your 2021 vacation.  The University has indicated they will be flexible with considering options to cover any required isolation periods, however, as each situation is unique, we strongly recommend if you are facing a situation like this and having difficulty with your situation that you reach out to your Unit Chair.

Pandemic Pay

Close to the beginning of the pandemic the government identified a number of essential positions that were entitled to pandemic pay for each hour they worked.  When the list of positions entitled to this pandemic pay was publicized the Local had several conversations with the University regarding the many members in Unifor 5555 that worked in those roles or locations.  The University reviewed the list and the documentation provided by the government and it was clear that publicly funded institutions like Universities were not included in the pandemic pay.  There were many conference calls with Unifor National where the inequity in this decision was raised and the National Union brought it forward in two of their consultations with the government.  The Local also reached out to local MPs and MPPs to advise that McMaster Employees, specifically Unifor 5555 Members, are not being paid the pandemic pay even though their roles fit the same criteria as some on the list.  The local got limited responses if at all.  The outcome of both speaking with the University and Unifor National speaking with the government was that there would be no change to the list.  University workers would not be receiving pandemic pay even though they are doing the same jobs as others receiving it.  We recognize the unfairness in this response, but unfortunately, we are unable to change the outcome.


McMaster Continuing Education Opportunities

Our members in CCE have been working hard over the last few months to continue bringing educational opportunities to the online world.  For many of our members, this may be an opportunity to access training they hadn’t been able to fit in before.  More information is in the announcement below.

McMaster University Continuing Education is pleased to announce that, for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021, the popular professional development “Essentials” workshops will be offered in a virtual classroom format. Through the Essentials courses, participants will gain valuable tools and insights that can immediately be applied to any workplace. Courses can be taken individually or as part of one of our six Essentials Programs to earn a McMaster University Certificate of Completion. Course topics include Leading Millennials, Unconscious Bias, Remote Work Strategies, and more! This Winter, McMaster Continuing Education will also be virtually offering The Art of Seeing™, a visual literacy program developed in partnership between the McMaster University Department of Family Medicine and the McMaster Museum of Art to enhance and support professional growth and self-care.

To see what is offered, visit the link below.


Unifor National Education Webinar Series

Unifor National is also ramping up their on-line webinar series with a number of courses being open into early October.  A wide range of topics are being presented.  They have updated the CEWS/CERB course to reflect the recent changes to the financial supports available.  There are also webinars that focus on Health and Safety, Mental Health, Young Workers, Women’s Activist and a series on Turtle Island focusing on anti-Indigenous racism in various parts of our society.  These webinars are all free and open to Unifor members, in order to take part you do have to RSVP and you can do so on the Unifor On-Line Education Page.


Accessibility Network for McMaster employees with disabilities and/or medical accommodations

The McMaster Employee Accessibility Network is letting the community know they are going to be hosting this year’s meetings all on-line through Microsoft Teams.  This peer network is an excellent place to discuss disability related issues.  See the below message for more information.

We invite you to join regular meetings of the Employee Accessibility Network for staff and faculty who personally identify with disability-related issues! This year’s meetings will take place entirely online through Microsoft Teams – please let Kate Brown ( know should you require any accessibility support/accommodations to participate (Teams will have live captioning enabled and is navigable for most assistive technologies).

What do we talk about? As some examples, conversations have ranged from workplace accommodations, employment equity, career advancement, accessibility in the workplace, negotiating disability/disclosure at work, related policies, etc. Most meetings have a mix of peer support, consultation, and advocacy.

The McMaster Employee Accessibility Network functions as a peer networking group for employees with disabilities, as well as a consultative group to the McMaster Accessibility Council (MAC).  Meetings are hosted by the Equity and Inclusion Office in response to provincial accessibility legislation.  

To join our mailing list, attend an upcoming meeting, or ask related questions, send a confidential email to: Kate Brown, AccessMac Program Manager, Equity and Inclusion Office:

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