On September 27, Business Manager Mike Gallagher received a member’s email expressing disapproval over the topic of proof of COVID-19 vaccination and Local 793’s responses and policies concerning this issue.
Below is a copy of Business Manager Gallagher’s response.
Your numerous letters to the area offices are a waste of yours and our time. We have established a mandatory vaccinations policy to protect our staff and members from an international pandemic that has claimed over 4 million lives worldwide. We are following provincial government mandates, Health Canada, World Health Organization, Centre For Disease Control and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. We have continued to support members with masks distributed to every member, educational videos, worksite inspection protocols, and increased sanitization of offices and training centres, relief grants and a new SUB Plan that has paid out over 2 million dollars to members impacted by job loss.
Our staff are now fully vaccinated who attend our offices, as are our business representatives, organizers, instructors and all support staff. We have protected all our staff and members to the best of our ability from a virus that is potentially deadly to their health and has led to the death of one of our members, and negatively impacted the health of several of our staff and we suspect also a large number of members and their families despite our best efforts.
In order for us to get back to something resembling normal with our union meetings, dinner dance honouring long service members including all activities we once enjoyed with our membership prior to March 2020 we need our membership to support our vaccination efforts and not have unvaccinated members increase our risk by attending union offices or future union meetings. If there is a medical reason supported by legitimate certified documentation from a member’s doctor we will seek to accommodate that member. We will review employers’ health and safety covid policy to ensure it to be in accordance with the laws of Ontario and Canada. Our legal advice to date is those mandatory vaccination policies are legal in the circumstances of the pandemic so long as accommodations are made on medical grounds. We expect policies like our own to be upheld in the courts and at the labour boards across the country.
Our best advice to you is to get vaccinated but that is up to you. If you do not get vaccinated there clearly is a downside risk to your employability, your ability to travel, attend restaurants, shopping malls, and many other indoor venues including future union meetings. You need to understand that rights are not only for individuals but for the health and safety of everyone else as well. Instead of writing letters to us if you continue to disagree in accordance with our constitution you can appeal to IUOE Local 793 Executive Board. If you are not satisfied with our decision of your appeal you can appeal to the General Executive Board in Washington. Following that process if you’re still not satisfied you can appeal to the court system. You will also have the opportunity to apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Unless a member is successful in appeal any one of those challenges our covid protection policy will remain unchanged.