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Learn About Your Union’s Activities and Financials: AESES’ 2019 Annual Report

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

The past 6 months have certainly brought about many, many changes, which we’ve had to adapt to. In fact, back in March we were inconspicuously planning our Annual General Meeting for April, preparing to meet in-person as a membership, to review our financials and committee reports from 2019/the previous year. Since that time, the option of hosting our AGM continues to be contrary to current provincial recommendations for group gatherings. We will therefore not be holding an AGM meeting this year.

However, our annual report, which contains copies of all committee reports for 2019 as well as 2019’s audited financial statements, is being made available to our AESES members. The document (a PDF file) can be accessed by all members via the secure Members’ Only area of the AESES website. If you have not previously signed up to access the Members’ Only section, simply click on the ‘Request an Account’ link in the right-hand column of the webpage. You will then be asked to fill out your full name, work email address, and employee number as part of the registration process.

If anyone has questions related to the annual report or otherwise, please direct them to the AESES Business Office via aeses@aeses.ca.

Application Process Open: New AESES Bursaries for Dependent Children

Monday, September 14th, 2020

The AESES Bursary
For signed AESES members, with dependent children studying at either UW or UM, your studious progeny may be eligible to apply for one our new $1000 bursaries. You may note that this is a change from our previously offered scholarships as disbursement will now be based on financial need rather than academic standing. This applies to dependents who are under 25 years of age prior to enrollment in the current academic year.

Details for UW Students
Three bursaries are available at UW, each valued at $1000. They will be offered to students enrolled in full-time undergraduate studies, who have the highest demonstrated financial need. To qualify: 1) new-to-UW students need to have achieved the required minimum entrance requirements based on those courses used for admission to the University; 2) or, continuing students need to have achieved a minimum grade point average of 2.0.

Details for UM Students
Seven bursaries are available at UM (pending approval at UM Senate on October 7), valued at $1000 each. They will be offered to students enrolled in full-time undergraduate studies (minimum 60% course load) in any year of study, who have the highest demonstrated financial need. To qualify: 1) new-to-UM students need to have achieved the required minimum entrance requirements based on those courses used for admission to the University; 2) or, continuing students need to have achieved a minimum grade point average of 2.0; 3) or, as students in the Undergraduate Medical Education Program, need to be in good standing.

One bursary at UM will be awarded to one undergraduate student from each of the following groupings (which have also been updated since prior years):

Group 1 – University 1
Group 2 – Faculty of Arts
Group 3 – Faculty of Science;
Group 4 – Faculty of Education, Price Faculty of Engineering, or Desautels Faculty of Music;
Group 5 – Asper School of Business, Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources, or Faculty of Law;
Group 6 – Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Faculty of Architecture, School of Art, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, or Faculty of Social Work;
Group 7 – Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

How to Apply
For UW applicants, applications can be filled out and submitted directly through UW’s Office of Awards and Financial Aid.

For UM applicants, the application isn’t up yet, but will soon be posted to the website for UM’s Financial Aid and Awards Office, so check back daily.
Update: September 24, 2020 – the AESES Bursary still does not include our bursary in the awards database search (above link). However, the following website does list the bursary offering: umanitoba.ca/financial-aid-and-awards/bursaries.

Application Deadline
These AESES bursaries will be awarded annually. The application deadline is October 1st.

Closing Remarks
If these requirements are met by your dependent/student and financial need is a consideration in their university attendance, the AESES Bursaries may prove beneficial. Remember to have your child apply prior to the October 1st deadline.

Apply for CCU’s Bursaries for Dependent Children of Union Members

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

The Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU/CSC) provides annual bursaries of $1000 for dependent children of members of unions belonging to the CCU/CSC for the purpose of furthering their post-secondary education. There will be a lottery for these bursaries at the CCU/CSC  Executive Board meeting in mid-October. The bursary applications (French and English versions) are available online here: http://www.ccu-csc.ca/ccu-csc-john-st-amand-madeleine-parent-2020-bursary-notice Eligible applicants for the CCU/CSC bursaries are those who are ‘attending a post secondary school’ and MUST be ‘dependent children’ of members of Unions belonging to ‘affiliates’ of the CCU/CSC. The successful applicants will be contacted by email after the Executive Board meeting on October 18, 2020.  Upon receipt of ‘proof of enrollment’ and a 500-1000 word essay on ‘What Unionism means to you’ the winners will be sent the award. See further details on the application form. Note that you are NOT required to submit an essay or proof of enrollment at this time. The deadline for submitting the bursary application is Thursday, October 1. Completed and signed bursary forms should be sent to : Matt Trump AESES 103-900 Harrow St. E. Winnipeg, MB R3M 3Y7 ccucscvpcentral@gmail.com

Message #14 to Our Members Re. COVID-19

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

In our last message to the membership, we commented on safe returns to work and advised that we had written to the Universities to ask about their process for managing the re-opening of departments.  As Laurie Morris reported in her President’s message in the August issue of InsideAESES, we have received responses from both the UM and UW.  We’re pleased to advise that the Universities are handling safe returns with apparent caution and both institutions are working directly with government health officials to ensure they are adhering to the recommendations of the health professionals.

As some areas of university operations are beginning to re-open, AESES has been receiving more and more questions from our members about their rights to a safe return.  We thought we would cover several of the common questions that are being asked so all members are informed of expectations for the employers and employees.

My department has told me I will be coming back to work shortly.  I’m anxious about returning when Winnipeg is still seeing new cases of COVID-19 daily.  Can I ask to continue working from home?

Any department looking to resume operations at the worksite must go through an application process which includes identifying why it’s necessary to return to the worksite.  If a return is authorized, it must be accompanied by an evaluation of the worksite to determine what safety procedures need to be implemented (i.e., hand sanitizer stations, COVID-19 barriers, facial masks, etc.).  You have every right to ask what steps have been taken to ensure your safety; however, the University does get to decide which areas will open provided appropriate safety measures are being taken.  If you’re still anxious about a return, you may ask your supervisor if you can continue to work from home, but if the unit requires you to perform your duties at the worksite, you will need to comply.  The exception to this would be if you have health issues that place you in a vulnerable group for complications if you contract COVID-19 or if you have a mental health illness that prevents you from returning to the worksite.  In either of these cases you would need to provide a medical certificate to the University verifying that you are medically unable to return to work.

My department has told me I will be coming back to work shortly.  Although I’m comfortable with the safety arrangements they are putting in place at the worksite, I travel to work by bus and I’m worried about possible exposure if I’m in a confined space with others for a prolonged period of time.  What are my options?

While we certainly understand the apprehension members may have if travelling by bus, the City of Winnipeg should be complying with recommendations being made by public health officials to ensure a safe travel environment.  Regardless, the University isn’t responsible for accommodating an employee’s method of travel to work.  This is a personal choice and there are other options that you may need to explore for transportation.  Similar to our answer above, you may ask your supervisor if you can continue to work from home if you’re anxious about travelling by bus; however, they do not have to accommodate your request.  If you have a health reason for not being able to return to the worksite, it would need to be verified by a medical certificate.

I feel that I would be more productive if I was allowed to return to the worksite; however, my department has said that we will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.  Can I ask to return to the worksite anyway?

Both Universities are being very careful in the re-opening of the campuses and many departments/units may be denied their request to return to the worksite if it isn’t deemed a necessity.  Although you may certainly ask your supervisor if you can return to work, be prepared that your request may be denied.  There are specific occupancy restrictions that could prevent staff from returning and, as such, the employees are being prioritized by need.  We have had some members indicate that they are experiencing negative mental health consequences from staying at home (particularly if they live alone).  In this case, a member would need to consult with their healthcare provider to determine if a return to work is required to support their mental health.  If your doctor determines that you need to return to the worksite, this would have to be outlined in a medical certificate as a form of accommodation.

My department is re-opening but I’m having trouble finding daycare for my child.  What are my options?

This is one of the direct questions that we asked of the UM and UW.  The response we received from the UM is as follows:

“… as the province continues to open up daycares and returning children to school in the fall, it is hoped that employees will once again be able to access their normal childcare supports. In the event that employees are unable to do so, the university is encouraging units to work with staff in terms of flexing hours of work and continued access to remote work arrangements to help support them as they the [sic] return of their normal childcare supports.”

We hope that the UW will follow the same process.

In any of these situations where you cannot return to the worksite, or need to return, please be sure to reach out to us so we may help facilitate the accommodation and ensure that your rights are being observed.  You can contact our labour relations team by phone at (204)949-5200 or email at aeses@aeses.ca.

Updates: AESES COVID-19 Assistance Fund

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

Earlier this month, the AESES Board of Representatives made the COVID-19 Assistance Fund available to support AESES members who are experiencing significant financial hardship due to the pandemic.

We have received nearly 100 applications to the fund thus far and, as a result, the COVID-19 Assistance Fund Committee has decided to make some adjustments to ensure we can help as many members as possible for as long as possible. These changes include:

  • An exclusive partnership with Safeway/Sobeys through their bulk gift card program which has provided us with savings that have been rolled back into the fund, thereby allowing more money to be available for our members.
  • With the availability of government benefits and plans such as CERB and CESB, we have reduced the amounts available for successful applicants in an effort to ensure we can continue to help as many members as possible.

The Safeway/Sobeys partnership is already in effect and the reduced amounts will take effect for all applications received after this week’s application deadline of noon on Friday, May 29th. Again, these important changes will allow us to support more members and ensure the longevity of the fund as the province looks to reopen over the summer months.

Only those members who are truly in need of this assistance and who meet the selection criteria should apply.

Some things you should know:

  • All AESES members meeting the eligibility criteria are eligible to apply, regardless of whether they are signed members or not
  • Applications received by noon on each Friday will be processed the following week
  • Assistance will be provided in the form of a gift card which will be mailed to you
  • The monetary amount available will be based on the applicant’s family status and qualified dependants
  • Applicants cannot receive benefit funds more than once in a two-week period

If you continue to be in need of assistance, you will need to submit a new application for each two-week period

The Assistance Fund Committee may take extenuating/exceptional circumstances into consideration.

The COVID-19 Assistance Fund application form can be found here.

Questions about the COVID-19 Assistance Fund can be directed via email to assistance@aeses.ca.

Message #11 to Our Members Re. COVID-19

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

For this week’s update message to our members we are sharing, once again, that we have no new updates from either University with respect to staffing. Our understanding is that the Universities are still awaiting their letters from the Provincial Government detailing the operating grant reductions.

While the Universities can’t be faulted for the Government’s delay, it is nonetheless disappointing that information is not forthcoming that would ease the rising concerns AESES members are feeling from facing the unknown. This is particularly heightened given that the UM has proceeded with temporary layoffs for over 110 AESES positions thus far.

At AESES, we’ve been reflecting more on the last notices that President Barnard at the UM and President Trimbee at the UW sent to their employees. While both advised employees of the announced reductions to the operating grants, the UW went on to say that “To avoid further layoffs, our focus is on non-salary reductions.” While this doesn’t guarantee that at the UW we won’t see any temporary layoffs, it doesn’t appear to be a main consideration at this time.

In a disappointing contrast, the UM indicated that in order to address the additional pressures placed on their budget, “Some of the tools we are considering include:

  • reducing discretionary spending,
  • hiring deferrals,
  • voluntary workweek reductions and
  • layoffs.

This is from a University that saw $127 million in net revenue from operating activities for the 2018-2019 fiscal year (source: University of Manitoba Annual Financial Report 2019). The $17.3 million shortfall in the Provincial operating grant can easily be absorbed by this or by the substantial reserves that exist at the end of each operating year over the past 10 years. Hundreds of millions of dollars are held in reserves currently for capital investment or internally restricted uses. Although renewal is important, it is shocking that more value has been placed on bricks and mortar than hard-working staff delivering high quality programs.

In the current environment of online learning, we are clearly seeing that the University is formed by the students and staff, not the physical spaces that the leaders believe is more critical. Perhaps investing in the people who allowed the University to continue delivering the services to students during a pandemic might supersede the construction of new buildings or major improvements to the physical infrastructure of the University. This is about choices. Failure to support staffing will only result in a drop in standards and will tarnish the desired image of the institution as it loses credibility for years to come.

We should also point out that at the UM, those employed in AESES positions are the primary target for temporary layoffs and our union group is bearing the bulk of the burden of salary savings for the University. By our estimation, the University will have saved approximately $1.9 million after 16 weeks of temporary layoffs, and this does not include any benefits or pension contribution savings that will be realized. Furthermore, no return to work dates have been provided to laid off members which means that these layoffs may be for greater periods of time than originally contemplated. This uncertainty is incredibly stressful and is hardly fair treatment of AESES members at a time when the overall message we are hearing locally and nationally is “we’re in this together.”

As a reminder to all members still working, in particular those working from home, the vast majority of you are paid to work a 6.5 hour day. You are still entitled to your two paid 15-minute breaks each day and a one (1) hour unpaid lunch break even while working remotely. We implore all of you to maintain your regular work hours and not to work beyond that unless you are being properly compensated. An additional concern that has come to our attention is reports from members that they are being asked to split their shift to suit the interests of the unit or department on any given day. A workday should remain intact whether at home or on campus. Anyone who is having difficulties with unrealistic work expectations and directives should contact the AESES Office at aeses@aeses.ca or 204-949-5200. Work-life balance is even more important since, for most of us, both are happening in our homes.

Finally, we have received a number of calls and emails about the recent announcement that the Provincial Government is looking at imposing 5 days off without pay to public-sector employees. According to the article we’ve seen on this (from CBC Manitoba), this will affect approximately 6,250 civil servants within core government departments. While there is the ability to voluntarily take days off without pay at each University, it is unlikely that this specific measure by the Province will include AESES members at either University.

Message #10 to Our Members Re. COVID-19

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

As the waiting continues for our members to hear what possible actions the Universities may take with regard to potential staffing cuts, the Provincial Government has now decided that there is no hurry to issue formal instructions to both Universities, after forcing them to provide their salary savings scenarios in an unreasonably short time frame. This continues to provide further evidence of this Government’s lack of respect for unionized public-sector workers and is an attack on these fairly paid, high-quality workers. This behaviour is irresponsible during normal times and under the current circumstances undermines the contribution our members make to the thousands of students who benefit from the valuable work you deliver daily. Your compensation is not a line on a balance sheet, it is an investment in the next generation of leaders in our province.

Despite the delays, the response from the University of Winnipeg has been reasonable and over several conversations has provided as much guidance as can be practically expected under these difficult circumstances. Conversely, communication has been disappointing from the University of Manitoba as their response to the Province was sent over three weeks ago and, to date, no substantial details have been shared with AESES.

As we reported earlier, AESES conferred with our legal counsel with respect to the temporary layoffs that are taking place at the University of Manitoba. We disagree with the University’s interpretation of the Collective Agreement with respect to how these layoffs are being implemented. As a result, we have filed an Association Grievance challenging the University’s actions. This is at the first stage of the grievance process and we will report further as this matter proceeds.

During all of this, our members have continued to provide excellent service to the Universities to ensure that operations continue to run as smoothly as possible. They are working from their homes primarily, and in many cases are required to also juggle child care, home schooling and, for some, supporting family members that have had their work reduced or eliminated as a result of these challenging times.

It has come to our attention that a number of members feel they are expected to constantly monitor their emails and phone messages beyond the normal hours for their work day. We have also heard of occasions where communications, including text messages, are being sent after hours or on weekends by supervisors and managers. While excluded managers may be subject to different work expectations and may feel that the clock is never turned off, AESES members are not part of this 24/7 work regime. This belief needs to stop as it has the very real potential of leading to unhealthy outcomes for too many of our members. The stress being felt by many from all of the changes that are taking place at work, at home and in society is already evident in the substantial number of communications AESES has received from our members who have concerns or who are struggling to manage.

After significant discussion within our leadership group, AESES is asking that members refrain from performing unpaid work in their units and ensure that they maintain a work-life balance that is reasonable. This includes taking their full lunch and work breaks and not responding to phones and emails after normal working hours unless formal standby is required and paid for. This also means that either overtime is approved to work beyond your normal hours in order to complete necessary tasks, or work that is deemed not important is left to another work day. Additionally, shift schedules are not to be flexed by managers nor should schedules be changed without proper notice in all cases. We appreciate that our members are dedicated to their work, their departments and the students. However, these are challenging circumstances and looking after your well-being and good mental health is vitally important. Managing workloads and expectations in units is necessary for the protection of everyone.

Please take the time to reach out to a co-worker or friend and make sure they are doing okay. A small gesture can serve as a breath of fresh air for struggling individuals. Our physical distancing does not have to lead to self-isolation.

Message #9 to Our Members Re. COVID-19

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

As we continue to await word from the Universities regarding the response from the Provincial Government to their salary reduction submissions, we thought we would share some comments that our Board of Representatives and labour relations team are hearing from you, our members.

First, an update for our UM members. The University has begun the process of issuing temporary layoffs to employees in units where they have determined that there is no work possible, either onsite or from home. As of this morning, AESES is now aware of over 50 positions receiving temporary layoff notices in a number of areas, primarily Kinesiology & Recreation Management, Marketing Communications Office, the Book Store and a few smaller areas. AESES disagrees with the University’s interpretation of the Collective Agreement provisions and their process of implementing these layoffs, and we are exploring options with our legal counsel to formally challenge their actions.

At the UW, our Collective Agreement doesn’t have a clause dealing with temporary layoffs, so they are more constrained in their ability to take similar action. However, at both institutions they have chosen to not schedule any further hours for those part-time employees in variable hour positions where units have closed. These members should have received their Records of Employment in order to apply for EI or the federal government’s CERB program.

However, the main reason for our communication today is to relay to you the two main themes that we’re hearing from members that are of significant concern. One surrounds the workload issues that are arising and the other deals with the well-being of our members.

Workload: We have been receiving a significant increase in emails and phone calls from members indicating that they are struggling to keep up with the volume of work they are required to perform. While working from home has its benefits (the commute can’t be beat!), it also raises many challenges and often a quick task done at the office now takes two or three times longer to accomplish. You may not have all of the same programs or equipment from home and physical files are more than likely still at the workplace.

AESES members are amazingly dedicated employees who work hard to meet deadlines, produce quality work, help students and assist faculty and other staff in getting their work done.  It’s far too easy, particularly while working from home, to start your day early, work through breaks and take shortened lunch hours just to get the voluminous amount of work you have on your plate done. While employees can typically handle the stress of this increased productivity for a short period of time, the continued strain on an individual of maintaining this pace over time is leading to extreme burnout in many.

We want to emphasize to our members that most of you are being paid to work a 7 hour day, and pushing yourself to work extra hours, particularly where you’re not being compensated for that extra time, is only hurting yourself. If you’re unable to get work done or meet deadlines, it’s incumbent on you to let your supervisor know. It will then be up to your supervisor to determine what takes priority or what will need to be postponed. A supervisor should NOT be responding with “it all needs to be done so figure it out”. If any member is having difficulty with their supervisor, please contact the AESES office for assistance.

Well-being:  We’re hearing from far too many of our members that they are seriously struggling with the stress of their work situation and the anxiety of not knowing if they’re being targeted for a potential layoff. Even those who are busier than ever due to the increased enrolments are fearful that they will be temporarily reduced or laid off. Unfortunately, the Universities have done little to allay these fears.

We’ve talked to many members in recent days who are near their breaking point and are in need of immediate medical assistance. Members should not avoid dealing with their mental health and physical well-being before it becomes a crisis situation, especially during this pandemic. Sometimes connecting with a counsellor through EFAP is sufficient and is a good preventive step to take. In other cases, being in a continued state of stress leads to adverse physical symptoms and disorders. This is where it’s most important that you talk to your family doctor and seek medical care. Where employees are experiencing a legitimate medical situation that necessitates time off from work, most are entitled to paid sick leave. If you’re in this situation and would like to seek confidential assistance from the AESES office, please contact us at aeses@aeses.ca or call 204-949-5200.

AESES is continuing to stand with our members and is committed to providing the necessary resources to the substantial challenges everyone is facing.  As a reminder, we recently announced the COVID-19 Assistance Fund for those experiencing extreme financial hardship due to loss of work resulting from COVID-19 closures.  Information on the fund can be found on our website at www.aeses.ca.

Stay safe & stay well.

Accepting Applications: AESES’ COVID-19 Assistance Fund

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

The AESES Board of Representatives has established a COVID-19 Assistance Fund to support AESES members who are experiencing significant financial hardship during this difficult time. AESES hopes to help as many of our members as we can during this crisis. A fund totaling $100,000 has been established for the purpose of helping our members who are struggling to buy necessities from the grocery store. As the fund is limited, only those members who are truly in need of this assistance should apply.

If you have suffered a negative financial impact to your household income such as a layoff, a spousal layoff, or even reduced hours due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can now apply to the AESES COVID-19 Assistance Fund.

Some things you should know:

  • All AESES members are eligible to apply, regardless of whether they are signed members or not
  • Applications received by noon on each Friday will be processed the following week
  • Assistance will be provided in the form of a gift card which will be mailed to you
  • The monetary amount available is dependent on each applicant’s family size
  • Applicants cannot receive benefit funds more than once in a two-week period
  • If you continue to be in need of assistance, you will need to submit a new application for each two-week period

The AESES COVID-19 Committee may take extenuating/exceptional circumstances into consideration.

The COVID-19 Assistance Fund application form can be found as an online form here or as a fillable PDF which can be emailed to us at assistance@aeses.ca.

Questions about the COVID-19 Assistance Fund can be directed via email to assistance@aeses.ca.

May 1st: International Workers Day

Friday, May 1st, 2020

Thank you, from us to you!

The poignancy of May Day takes on extra meaning this year, as we struggle with uncertainty and stresses and fears in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated affect on our jobs and workplaces and sense of security.

We are stronger recognizing all of our contributions and the value we bring to our universities. We are stronger supporting each other. We are stronger together! As employees, as a unions, and as a labour movement.

Thank you! Today, on International Workers Day, and every day going forward.

– your AESES Team

Did you know

AESES is affiliated with the Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU).

AESES' Charter Meeting was held in December of 1972.

We offer scholarships for AESES dependants at both universities.

Anyone can attend a Board meeting by calling the AESES Business Office prior to the meeting and confirming their attendance.

AESES requires new volunteers for various committees. Please contact the Business Office if you are an AESES member interested in joining one of our committees.