Straight Talk: Addiction & Accommodation at work.

addictDid you know that alcoholism and addiction are considered disabilities?

A seven year legal battle for two Ontario residents and a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada set a legal precedent on what constitutes a disability under Human Rights legislation. Employees who suffer from an illness or injury that restricts or limits their ability to perform their duties are considered to be “disabled” under employment law; addictions and alcoholism are considered disabilities.

Under the Yukon Human Rights Act, an employer must accommodate disabled employees – this is the “duty to accommodate”.  The right to equality for persons with disabilities is entrenched in Human Rights legislation across Canada.   If an employee suffers from an addiction they may have access to a workplace accommodation while they are recovering.

We say may because the duty to accommodate usually follows disclosure by the employee. The employee may believe they suffer from an addiction but unless this is disclosed, it’s tough for the employer to know what supports are appropriate.

An accommodation can be anything from  altered  hours of work, time off to attend counseling or treatment or even modified duties.  It may mean working in a different position or location. The intent is to reduce or eliminate the risk of further injury or illness, to meet operational needs and to allow the individual to continue working while recovery takes place.

If an employer suspects a medical condition may be affecting an employee’s performance, they have a duty to inquire. This means they may ask the employee if there are any medical restrictions or limitations, or if they have a medical condition they should be aware of.  This isn’t an invasion of your privacy just for the sake of asking; if you are asked, it likely means your employers have noticed you are struggling.

What can you do if you believe addiction is affecting your ability to carry out your duties?  Ask for help! Talk to your family or friends, consult with your family physician and tap into your employee assistance program.

If you believe you need a workplace accommodation, ask YEU for a union representative to help you talk to your supervisor.  Some employers offer financial support to attend treatment programs, follow up counseling or other rehabilitative programs.  All employers have a legal duty to accommodate an employee to the point of undue hardship.

If you’re in doubt about your responsibilities and your rights as a disabled employee or if you have any questions please contact YEU and your human resource branch. There is confidential support available and all levels can work together to help.  For your protection, it makes sense to make sure you have union support when you approach your employer; we will be with you every step of the way.

Guatemala, March 2015………… YOU may be forever changed.

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Invitation to the Guatemala project 2015: 4 Young Worker subsidies available!

The PSAC Social Justice Fund invites you to participate in the next Education In Action project in Guatemala for 2 weeks in spring, March 6 – 20, 2015. The Education In Action (EIA) organization is supported in part by the PSAC Social Justice Fund and engages Canadian volunteers to deepen their understanding of Guatemala, building solidarity by working closely with the Comité  Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA) who are strengthening communities in Guatemala.

The PSAC Social Justice Fund (SJF) Sponsorship program  will subsidize the costs of participation for 4 PSAC Youth members (aged 18-30).  Each subsidy of up to $2500 covers the project participation fee and contributes to travel costs, food and accommodation while in Guatemala. This subsidy does not cover loss of salary.

In addition to the 4 youth subsidies, the project is open to all PSAC members who are able to cover their own airfare expenses plus $600 participation fee (covers travel, food and accommodation in Guatemala).

Interested? Download the application form HERE for the March 6-20 2015 Education in Action trip to Guatemala.

In March 2014, YEU President Steve Geick joined the EIA team and visited Guatemala.  Steve’s story is here, if you wish to learn more.

Education in Action Inspires Members

EIA has inspired many PSAC members to get involved in meaningful solidarity with Guatemala. Twenty-seven PSAC members have participated in the program to build homes for impoverished families in the rural areas of the Guatemalan highlands. So far, 82 homes, 3 community centres and 3 schools have been built since 2006, when the program was founded by former PSAC member Roberto Miranda. Through EIA, members have an opportunity to work side-by-side with Indigenous families who are members of a Guatemalan farmers’ cooperative, the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA), a grassroots organization working with Mayan farmers to improve their livelihoods.

The CCDA has been defending the economic, social and cultural rights of the Mayan people since 1982, struggling for equitable land distribution, carrying out sustainable agricultural development, and encouraging the economic empowerment of women.

The CCDA also produces the organic and fairly traded coffee, Café Justicia, sold by volunteers across Canada. Café Justicia is made available to members through the Social Justice Fund office in Ottawa. All proceeds are designated for the housing program, paying the salary of a full-time school teacher, improving access to potable water and food security for the population.
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Over the last few years, many rural families in Guatemala have faced a food crisis due to a serious drought and an aggressive blight that has destroyed the coffee harvest throughout Central America. Small producers have recorded major losses and many jobs have been lost.

Since 2006, 27 members of the PSAC have participated in the delegations to Guatemala organized by the SJF and Education in Action. Members from AGR, CEIU, NHU, UCTE, UEW,
UNDE, UNE, UNW, UPCE, UTE, and YEU.

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

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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.

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YEU Education Bursaries

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YEU is proud to offer 8 Education Bursaries annually, each for $1000.  These bursaries are offered to Yukon students planning to pursue full time studies in an accredited post-secondary school. To be eligible, you must either be a member of Yukon Employees’ Union or be the dependant of a YEU member. If you need information or have questions please contact us  by email or call our office at 867-667-2331

Applications for the 2014-2015 academic year are now being accepted. The deadline for submission is September 30th, 2014.  All required documents must accompany the application in order to be considered eligible. Submissions can be made by hand, by mail or electronically.

Successful applicants will be advised by mid October; it’s important to provide a permanent address where we can reach you in the fall.

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Submit by hand or mail to:

Yukon Employees’ Union

201-2285 2nd Avenue

Whitehorse Yukon, Y1A 1C9

OR  submit electronically to   contact@yeu.ca