Creating Community Guidelines for Union Social Media Groups

Does your Local have a Facebook page? Perhaps a small group of workers have created a closed group where they hope they can chat more freely in a private setting?

It is very important that the group or page administrators create and enforce community conduct guidelines for everyone’s protection.  Nothing on Facebook (or anywhere online) is truly private or safe from sharing, no matter how tightly you try to regulate the participants or the posts of its members.

How can something posted in a private, closed group make its way outside the group? Screenshots are the most common, but even photos with closed sharing restrictions can be downloaded or saved, and shared as easily as any other picture. Online activity may be grounds for dismissal so guidelines and their consistent enforcement are critical.

Here are some considerations when creating your guidelines:

  • Define the purpose of the page or group clearly in a post pinned to the top of the feed.
  • Make sure everyone knows who the page administrators are: provide easy contact info and be quick to respond to private messages flagging risky content. Ask members of the group or page to look out for each other online; if someone sees a questionable post, privately communicating with the poster (if possible) quickly can help minimize risk.
  • Make sure all group/page members know what to expect. If you intend to remove posts, make sure you’re clear in the guidelines about what would trigger the deletion of problem content.

What is problem content?

  • Profanity, offensive or violent language, defamatory comments about individuals or the employer.
  • Trolling; intentionally disrupting or hijacking conversations with abusive talk or off-topic comments.
  • Threats, threatening language, harassing or attacking comments directed at individuals or groups (again, including the employer or manager).
  • Discriminatory statements relating to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or political beliefs, ability etc.
  • Sexually explicit material or links to sexually explicit material, sexual comments or innuendo.
  • Discussion of illegal activity.
  • Spam etc.
  • Discussion of confidential information relating to a client, patient, co-worker, student etc.
  • Disclosure of business information you should reasonably expect to be confidential or proprietary relating to your employer or place of employment.

Consider who will take over management of the group or page if the original administrators leave, move away etc. An unmonitored page is both a wasted opportunity to communicate and a risk. No matter what guidelines are in place, some people will not play nicely. Be prepared to take action in case of inappropriate activity on the page or within the group. It’s a matter of protection for all who participate in the online community.

 

Community Guideline Examples:

YEU Shop Steward’s Network is a closed Facebook group for our elected Stewards. Here are the guidelines we have posted for that group:

COMMUNITY GUIDELINES; PLEASE READ

This group allows YEU/PSAC Shop Stewards an opportunity to access information specific to the Steward role. This is a good place to share ideas and thoughts with your fellow Stewards to strengthen and support the work.

NOTE: This is not the place to post specific details of ANY grievance or member conversation, confidential information etc. Please make sure you maintain your Oath of Confidentiality in all communications, online and in person.

2 Questions to ask yourself before you post:

  • Does it build Solidarity?
  • Is it respectful?

If the answer to either question is ‘No’, please think of another way to phrase your post that supports the above 2 questions.

Posts may be removed if they are contrary to the spirit of these guidelines.

Members may be removed from the group if they consistently post in such a way.

If you have any questions about the administration of this private group, please contact YEU’s Communications Officer or Shop Steward Coordinator at 867-667-2331.

 

 

Trans at Work; Dignity & Discrimination in Yukon

Trans-at-work-Dignity-&-Discrimination

This week we have seen discrimination at its ugliest, its most vile. We watched in horror as news broke from Orlando Florida of the hate-inspired murder of so many at a gay nightclub but this is only the most recent in a long list of attacks.  While we may try and label those as random acts committed by crazed killers, the truth is that systemic discrimination and inequality maintain an environment where such hatred can flourish. The fact that media is hesitant to call this a hate crime illustrates the pervasive discrimination this community consistently faces.

The Liberal Government has introduced legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination and hate crimes. The bill would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender expression or identity. Prime Minister Trudeau stated “Far too many people still face harassment, discrimination and violence for being who they are. This is unacceptable”.

YEU has been working alongside our trans and gender non-conforming members, urging employers to ensure difference does not preclude employment, workplace safety or dignity. A system designed without thought for those outside the strict male/female binary ensures trans workers face discrimination at every stage of their employment journey.

Within the corporate structure of YG, workers regularly encounter incidental discrimination in the form of old policies, language and practices established before anyone considered inclusion as an objective. That type of discriminatory practice and language is not difficult to remedy, if the will exists.

From the moment an employee receives their offer of employment, they are forced into a system that makes all gender identities besides male and female invisible.  To accept a job with YG, individuals must log in through an online portal and select a gender from a drop down menu – the options are Male, Female and Unknown. For a worker who is clear in their gender identity, “Unknown” is an affront. This is gender-based, systemic discrimination.  Even the forms required to access medical leave or to request accommodation offer two gender options; male & female. In cases where a trans worker is seeking accommodation, the forms required for accommodation cannot be completed.

Some expressions of intolerance are more overt.  Trans or gender non-conforming workers are afraid to be themselves in the workplace for fear of bullying or jeopardizing career advancement.   The workplace culture permits supervisors to use their own personal discomfort with others’ gender presentation as a reason to restrict access to training, to promotion, to employment itself.   In strict gender dichotomous work-sites, the need to accommodate workers is seen as too great a burden and employees are at risk of being performance managed out of work. Of course other reasons are given officially, but it’s easy to see prejudice at play. A tranPULSE study from Ontario notes that 13% of transgender people report they have been “constructively dismissed” for being transgender.

Some employers are doing a better job. The City of Whitehorse has initiated required LGBTQI Welcoming Workplace training for all staff in an effort to create an equitable work environment and to ensure clients don’t experience discrimination when accessing City services.  Yukon College has taken steps as well through Transgender Remembrance services. Private employers like Starbucks have policies & literature educating employees on the sensitive use of pronouns, and are quick to act in support of a worker who faces discrimination from colleagues or a supervisor.

Until the Human Rights Act is amended to explicitly include gender identity and expression as protected grounds, trans and gender non-conforming Yukoners are covered under the protected grounds of sex.  Employers must respect that trans workers need to be in safe and appropriate work situations. Forcing them to identify gender at every step of their process, demanding doctor’s verification of gender identity, encroaching on dignity through intrusive and unnecessary procedural systems is a violation of the Human Rights Act.

Yukon Employees’ Union invites the Government of Yukon to act as a model employer. Create gender neutral washrooms and remove the need to identify gender. Entrench policies and procedures which recognize some workers are gender non-conforming, trans, inter-sex and 2 spirited. Work collaboratively with the trans community to identify where gaps exist and how best to bridge them.

Recognize that accommodation requests from trans employees are not intrinsically medical in nature and stop demanding medical certificates for non-medical issues. Acknowledge your responsibility to protect workers, no matter their gender identity, under the Human Rights Act.

Yukon Government is re-launching a diversity training program through the Yukon Women’s Directorate entitled GIDA, Gender Inclusive Diversity Analysis. The GIDA documents state “Good public policy works toward ending discrimination in Yukon society and creating a society that includes everyone.” Sadly the document refers to intersectionality & inclusion while only ever referencing women and men, boys and girls. There is not a single reference to trans or gender non-conforming individuals nor any mention of those who exist outside the binary. Even this training program, designed to help identify & eradicate discrimination, discriminates.

An authentic culture of inclusion will benefit our Yukon community far beyond the workplace doors. We challenge you to create a new standard of equality and inclusion to help diminish hatred and violence.

Isn’t it Time for Gender Free Union Solidarity?

gender freeDear Friends & Comrades:

For years, the terms Brother and Sister have been used by unionists to call together our community. Continue reading

Teens & Tools; YWITT talks Trades for Young Women!

Sue-and-draw-winnersFor 15 years, Yukon Women in Trades & Technology has championed opportunities for young women to learn up new skills and gain confidence through the annual Trades Exploration Conference.   The event will take on an exciting new shape this year as the girls experience skill building in real work settings.YEU has proudly supported their annual Young Women Exploring Trades event for many years; we are excited to be part of building choice for Yukon’s next generation.

If you know a Grade 8 girl please make sure she knows about the YWET Trades Exploration Conference taking place October 15 & 16 in Whitehorse.  Yukon businesses will open their doors to these future tradespeople all across Whitehorse, offering a varied menu of trades to try.

They can choose to try their hand at carpentry or Environmental testing, explore career paths in the flight industry, learn what it takes to be a paramedic, an esthetician or a welder. Perhaps communications & computer programming, RV mechanics or culinary pursuits will capture the imagination and spark a rewarding,  lifelong adventure in the trades.

For more information on the YWET 2015 Trades Exploration Conference, please visit yukonwitt.org.

Program Details HERE              Registration Form HERE

2015 Y-WITT-CommunityYWITT is a non-profit organization that encourages girls and young women to consider and pursue careers in the skilled trades.  YWITT offers programming opportunities to high school girls that expose them to a multitude of trades in a safe and supportive environment under the direction of skilled tradespeople, who are primarily women.

YWITT provides financial support to Yukon women apprentices through a bi-annual bursary and opportunities to instruct young girls and women. They also partner with other sector partners and industry to provide community-based programming.

Whitehorse Food Bank Feels the Summer Heat

no-soup-july-2015Every summer the Whitehorse Food Bank faces the same challenge; how to meet increased demand at the same time  both food and cash donations dry up. Families with kids at home struggle to make sure there’s enough food to fill hungry bellies and visitors to the city turn to the Food Bank to help them make it through the summer.

New Executive Director Kyla Merkel has instituted some wonderful new initiatives including Family Day at the emergency food provider. All summer, each Wednesday will be reserved for families with children. At that time, only parents & kids will be allowed in the building. While the adults pick up their once monthly food hamper, children will be able to colour, play with toys and have a healthy snack.

With health in mind, the Food Bank has removed ramen and instant soups from their most requested list. Remember, If you make a food donation be sure to bring your grocery receipt when you drop off food; you will be sent a tax receipt at the end of the year… everyone wins!

How can you help?

Donate money!  Sign up for the Food Bank’s Green Apple Club! Visit www.whitehorsefoodbank.ca and register for easy donations monthly. Even $10/month will help ensure reliable cash flow. You can also donate online at Canada Helps or donate your recycling at Raven; just tell the clerk you’d like your refund donated to the Whitehorse Food Bank.

Donate food! Top items include pasta, canned soup, tinned fruit and vegetables, canned meat, dry cereal, rice & peanut butter. Visit the Donate Food page to learn more.

no-peanut-butter-july-2015

Straight Talk: Off Duty Online Harassment may cost your JOB!

cloud-2“OMG – did you see Sarah’s outfit today?  Looks like she got dressed in the dark again!”

“Office romance alert:  it looks like Mr. Shiny-Shoes is cheating on his wife with Ms. Short-Skirts!!”

“All women are cheaters!”

We’ve all heard of cyber-bullying and online harassment through social media.  Did you know that if you engage in harassing behaviour online, you can be disciplined at work?  The rules of your employment don’t end when you go home for the day.  With the rise of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, what we say online can really affect our working lives.

It doesn’t matter if you’re posting from your home computer long after your work day ends;  if your online behaviour can be linked to your workplace,  your employer may have a legal obligation to make sure you are not harassing your co-workers.  The law says employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe and harassment-free workplace.  That includes ensuring protection from after-hours cyber-bullying.

Ask yourself the following questions to consider whether your online activities may be inviting discipline:

1. Is what you are saying online harassing? Is it critical, mean or overtly personal?
The first thing an employer would have to consider is whether what you said was actually a problem.

~Were your comments about a specific person or could they be reasonably interpreted to be about a specific person?
~Were your comments offensive or bullying in nature (the argument that you were making a joke won’t fly here)?
~Were they discriminatory (were they about a protected ground in the Yukon Human Rights Act)?
~Were your comments objectively inappropriate?

2. Were your comments made in a public forum?
We tend to think of some arenas as private: your kitchen, your car, your Facebook wall….?!

Although there are different levels of privacy on social media, Facebook & Twitter are NOT private.  Even if you post in a private message, your comments could be shared using screen capture or other tools.

If you have made offensive comments that you intended to be seen by a private audience (through a private message on Facebook,  or to a select few followers on Twitter), you could argue that your comments were not made in a public forum.  Proving that your comments were not public would help any argument you would make if your employer disciplines you for online comments. The reality is that once you put something out on the web you lose control of it.

3. Were your comments reasonably connected to work?
If your comments were about a specific person in your workplace, whether you named them or just made it clear who you were talking about, your employer (and co-workers and friends and community members) could reasonably conclude that your comments were connected to the workplace, and therefore have an obligation to act.

If you identify yourself on social media as working in that specific workplace, then your employer may also conclude that any comments you make are related to work and reflect poorly on the employer.  Therefore, they may act to discipline you.

If the answer to any of these questions is YES, your employer may have a legal obligation to discipline you.

It is a complicated issue and there is not enough room here to go into the complexities. In the end, the best thing to remember is DON’T BE MEAN ONLINE!   Not only does it hurt other people, but it could come back to hurt you at work too!

Christie Harper, YEU Union Advisor

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! Y010 & YEU’s Whitehorse Food Bank Challenge!

food bank shelves

The Whitehorse Food Bank is in dire straits; their shelves are bare and they’re having a hard time meeting the needs of hungry Yukon families. Summer is always a lean time of year for the community organization; demand goes up while the supply of food and cash donations goes down.

Local Y010 President Tammi Sikorski has issued a challenge to all other Locals: Y010 is donating $700 to the Food Bank and they urge other YEU Locals to donate what they can.  Yukon Employees’ Union has offered to match the TOTAL combined donations from all our Locals, hopefully providing a substantial donation.

What can YOU do? Well, we issue a challenge to all our members as well!

WE CHALLENGE YOU!

SPEND $50 on groceries for the Food Bank, snap a photo and upload it to our Facebook page. Deliver the food & store receipt to the food bank, provide them with your name & address and they will make sure you get a tax receipt at the end of the year. Win-Win!!

This is a great opportunity to give back; let’s show we really do keep UNITY in Community!

This is a photo of what $61.34 can buy;   food bank donation

  • 18 cans of pasta sauce ($1.27 each)
  • 12 cans of chunk tuna  ($1 each)
  • 12 cans of chicken noodle soup ($7.48 case)
  • 12 boxes of macaroni and cheese ($5.98 case)
  • 6 cans of sardines ($1 each)
  • 6 large bags of pasta ($1.17 each)

All items are on the Whitehorse Food Bank’s list of  items most urgently needed at this time.

When all the Locals’ donations have been matched up with YEU’s contribution, we plan a MASSIVE shopping expedition! Join us and show a little YE-Unity! We’ll need helping hands to create a convoy of shopping carts – stocking up, loading up then shelving the food back at the Food Bank’s Alexander Street Location.  We’ll try to go early next Saturday, August 2nd. The more the merrier! We’ll have YEU & PSAC t-shirts for one and all. Please join us!

There are NO prizes except the good feeling that helping brings.  If you feel like making this even bigger, please invite your colleagues, friends and neighbours to do the same. Let’s get everybody shopping, snapping pictures and showing just how much we care. YOU are YEU. Together, we can make a difference!

If you want to join our shopping outing PLEASE contact us ASAP! Call Loralee at 667-2331 or Tammi at 335-1329 or email us and we’ll contact you.

Y010 new logo 2014