Whose Side are we ON?!

It’s hard to go to work every day when you’re in conflict with a co-worker.  When workplace conflict starts to impact your life, we hope you look for help. You can take many different paths to resolution, but we hope you will contact the union. Yukon Government workers will likely be assisted by the Respectful Workplaces Office with or without union assistance, while workers from other  Bargaining Units are encouraged to use the grievance process to work through these challenges.

We know going to the union is an idea that makes some people nervous, or uncomfortable. How would it work? How can two co-workers seek help from the same source? When both parties come to YEU for support and representation, how do we make sure we treat them both fairly?

The union cannot choose one member over another. Under the Canadian Labour Code, all Canadian unions have a legal obligation to fairly represent all members, and to look at each individual case on its own merits.  When a YEU Labour Relations Advisor is actively representing one member, and another member involved in the issue requires representation, another YEU Advisor will take on the case. We do not discuss the specific of cases in our briefings as a team, always recognizing our need to remain fair, objective and focused in our representation work.

How do we manage this in serious harassment situations? How about in cases where one person has acted in the role of whistle-blower?

Very serious harassment situations can be complex, and may even involve law enforcement or external investigators. In YG, harassment issues are managed through the Respectful Workplace Office and one or more Advisors are often part of the case management team. Again, we keep our focus on the member we are representing while recognizing that we may have opposing perspectives on some of the points in the case. This is not to say we oppose each other’s work, but we rely on the information from our members and our job is to represent their interests and rights. The same applies whether one or both members blew the whistle, or if the employer directed both members to work with RWO to resolve a workplace conflict.

Union members from other employers without a formal harassment prevention branch do have internal processes, agreed to by the employer and the Union, and we will ensure the employer follows their process, and is held accountable when they don’t.

How do we help members feel safe?

We do our best to assure every member that what they disclose to us is confidential, and we will only share their concerns as needed, and only with their full and informed consent.

If a member doesn’t want us to share any info, then there will be limits to what they can expect in terms of a resolution as workplace conflict is always a multi-party situation. We also have to be honest about the limits to our ability to ensure their privacy when other parties such as RWO and HR are involved.

We counsel members on what to do if they fear workplace reprisal, and we are prepared to hold the employer accountable if there are any behaviors that even appear retaliatory in nature. We assure members that our file management system allows each Advisor to keep their file confidential, with all information stored in a locked cabinet in the Advisor’s office and password protected e-files on our own computer drives. We also have a very high level of trust across our team and communicate this to our members through our actions and words.

What if a member doesn’t want to file a grievance, but wants the situation improved?

The grievance process is our members’ way of speaking out against unjust or unfair treatment in the workplace. Of course it’s only one option; the staff at YEU can recommend alternative dispute resolution, if another path to reconciliation is likely to serve better under the circumstances. Members from non YG Bargaining Units can file grievances in conflict situations, while YG members are directed to the RWO for resolution.

As Labour Relations Advisors, we help members resolve conflict and address harassment or bullying in the workplace. We stay apprised of current case law and research in the area and most importantly, we understand the need for each member involved to be fairly represented, and to feel safe and respected throughout the process.

Call us at 867-667-2331, 1-888-YEU-2331 or email contact@yeu.ca

 

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.

 

 

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

Yukon’s Community Nurses Need Resourses STAT!

Community Ncarmacks-health-centre-signursing Stations serve the medical needs of residents and visitors in some of the most isolated corners of the Yukon.  In the absence of multiple healthcare facilities, these clinics offer a dizzying array of services from first response to referral. When doctors visit from Whitehorse, the health centres get even busier. Community Nurses provide prenatal care, counselling, nutrition support, maternal health programming, diabetes education and more.

Year after year more programs are added to the responsibilities of Community nurses with no increase in staffing to reflect the added workload. Consequently, nurses are frustrated and burning out; there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. They are relied upon heavily by local RCMP detachments and work hand in hand with social services and First Nations. In communities with volunteer EMS teams, the nurses must frequently step in to fill the gap when volunteers are unavailable and resources are few.

Nurses are at daily risk of workplace violence. In small communities they face dramatically increased incidences of physical & verbal abuse on the job. Respite is critical to ensure these workers stay healthy. Time away from the intense stress levels of a sometimes 24/7 job can make the difference between doing the job well and suffering a tremendous physical and emotional toll.

In June of this year PSAC’s Regional REVP and National Vice President travelled to several Yukon Community Health Centres with me. Their conversations with nurses in those centPelly Crossing Health Centre signres were sobering.

Despite improvements to Collective Agreement language in recent contracts, the employer continues to deny earned vacation leave to exhausted nurses, citing “operational requirements” and lack of staffing.  Staffing levels are a genuine concern. When a nurse works an on-call shift rotation lasting up to 10 days, the resultant lack of sleep and downtime can be nearly debilitating and there’s often no relief in sight.

Nurses tell us that vacant positions remain un-filled; medical centres that are intended to be staffed by 2 nurses at all times frequently rely on a single nurse with no back-up. A 7 day work week is the rule and not the exception and a knock on the nurse’s door at home in the middle of the night is all too common. No matter how far in advance leave is requested it is often denied simply because there is no-one available to cover. Nurses often seek coverage themselves, in fact, before applying for vacation.

These nurses fill a vital Meadow-with-mug CMYKrole in the communities they serve. Their level of personal sacrifice is testament to their degree of commitment and professionalism, but there must be relief in sight.  As YEU and YG enter bargaining this year there is hope that some of the chronic issues plaguing Community Nursing will be resolved.

Unfortunately there is only so much we can accomplish at the bargaining table. The issues Community Nurses face will only be resolved if the Yukon Government steps up, takes notice and shows the political will to do so. Nurses simply cannot continue to provide the level of care they so desperately want to, that all Yukoners expect and deserve, with ever dwindling numbers and little hope of meaningful change. YEU’s voice and the voice of the nurses will only go so far. If you live in a community or have ever had to rely on this amazing group of professionals I urge you to write to your MLA, the Premier, the Minister of Health and any other entity that will listen. It’s your health, your family’s health and that of the nurses at stake.  Ultimately it’s up to the politicians to ensure adequate healthcare resources are available to everyone…especially those providing the care.

In the meantime, we salute all nurses for the important and difficult work they do.

Steve Geick, YEU President
& Proud Community Nurse

Steve new camera

Why are YOU Union?

“I’m Union Because” is a campaign we launched at this weekend’s YEU Triennial Convention. Delegates shared a few thoughts on what motivates them to keep their union alive, what being Union means to them. We hope you enjoy the pictures & take a moment to think about what makes YOU Union. Want to add your voice?  Print off the pdf, post it on your Union Billboard at work. It’s a conversation we need to have with our co-workers, our kids, our friends and neighbours. There’s a lot of talk out there about what Unions are, what they do… if we don’t tell our own story, we give away all our power. Tell your story!

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Download the pdf, print it off and post it!