Archive for the ‘News Feed’ Category
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
Wednesday, April 29th, 2020
From the AESES President’s home office:
I was asked to send a personal message to the membership to give some indication of everything AESES has been doing over the last 6ish weeks.
Before I do that, I want to reassure everyone that AESES is working hard to preserve your rights under our collective agreements and to provide support to any member who reaches out to us. Every message to our members that comes from AESES is created by a very hard-working team of people including Lisa McKendry, Exec. Director; Lorne Hilton, Labour Relations Officer and me. We are constantly consulting with the Executive Council as well. We endeavour to include whatever information is pertinent and factual at the time it is written. We are trying very hard to not give false hope or show negativity which has no basis in fact. We have been providing links to mental health supports, to COVID-19 information, to petitions protesting Pallister’s newest austerity measures, etc.
Since March 12th, AESES has formally met with the UM 4 times; with the UW 5 times and we have held 6 formal meetings of the Executive. We have sent letters to UW President Trimbee, UM President Barnard; UW HR Director Roberta Marsh; UM VP (HR) Darlene Smith; Premier Brian Pallister with copies to NDP Leader Wab Kinew, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont and Kelly Johnson, President, CCU. The All Unions Committee at the UM met to discuss our common goals. We were included in an online meeting between the government and public sector unions and the follow-up meetings with the Partnership to Defend Pubic Services. This doesn’t include the many, many emails between the employers and unions, with members of the Executive, the Board, and various committees. We’ve also been dealing with members on employment matters not related to the COVID-19 situation as other work, and issues for our members, still continues. Finally, we created a new assistance fund which will be launched very shortly which will assist those of you who might be facing significant financial hardships as our employers move to meet whatever cuts will be imposed by the provincial government.
Like most of you, the AESES Office had to move to working remotely. And, we had to cancel everything from education seminars, various activities, the annual volunteers’ banquet, and more. The Annual General Meeting was postponed. Our meetings are being held remotely which has its own challenges. But, we are doing it … just like all of you.
In the midst of everything AESES has been doing, yesterday, we received a few emails to tell us about an event being advertised on Facebook. Someone had decided to have a car rally around the Legislative Buildings to protest Pallister’s intention to cut salaries and jobs at the Universities and other public sector unions. On Saturday, 6 cars made up the rally. By Sunday, about 60 cars joined in. And, every evening this week at 6:00 p.m. the rally continues. I think this is a fabulous idea and I am happy to let you all know about it. Information about the rally can be found on our Facebook page and through Twitter.
Thank you all for everything you are doing. We know how hard you are all working to keep your University running. We know how scared you are. We know that anxieties are running high. Please know that we are doing everything we can to support you and to fight for you with our employers and with our government.
Until our next message, I hope everyone stays healthy and safe.
Friday, April 24th, 2020
We thought we would send a message to our membership today to mark the end of a week filled with new developments as we continue the requirements to observe physical distancing. AESES understands that as this situation goes on people are becoming lulled into a different type of routine while conversely becoming more and more anxious about what the future holds. This is a strange paradox; however, we are living a strange new “normal” throughout our nation and across the globe.
Unfortunately, we have no updates to provide to our members with respect to the Pallister Government’s directive to public-sector employers to develop plans for staffing reductions and savings at the 10, 20 and 30 per cent targets. Both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg have announced that they have forwarded their submissions to the government earlier this week. At this point in time, everyone is waiting to hear what the government’s decision will be insofar as to what degree the Universities will be expected to make cuts.
AESES has continued to express our view to the Universities that they should be pushing back against the government’s directives given the continued need for work to be done. Many of our members have called and emailed to say that they are just as busy, if not busier, at this time. Any reductions to the hours being worked by employees will drastically impact the level of service that can be provided to students and to the ongoing operations of the Universities.
Irrespective of the government’s exercise, and as we had previously communicated, the Universities will likely start to examine those positions where areas have closed and there is no possibility for working remotely. While this may have been delayed by the requirement for the employers to respond to the government in an incredibly short time frame, we are learning of some temporary layoffs that are beginning to take place. So far, these have been in areas where there is no work that can be performed.
AESES wants to remind all our members that EFAP supports are available to all employees, including those who have been temporarily laid off. It is important that everyone continues to monitor their wellbeing, and their mental health, and seek medical assistance when needed. Sick leave is still an option for members who are unable to work, in keeping with medical advice, and all regular benefits remain available to support your health care needs. For EFAP support contact:
- At UW, access MB Blue Cross EFAP via:
- Phone: 1-800-590-5553
- Website: www.mygoodhealth.ca
- Mobile app: mybluecross mobile
- At UM, access Shepell via:
- Phone: 1-800-387-4765
- Website: www.workhealthlife.com
- Mobile app: My EAP
While we wait on the government, we wanted to point out that there are two online petitions where individuals can protest these draconian cuts that Premier Pallister has called for. If you want to add your voice to those in opposition you can find the petitions at the following links:
Members are also encouraged to write to their MLA, and Premier Pallister, to register their concerns. A listing of all MLAs can be found on the government’s website at:
In addition, the United Way of Winnipeg has created a webpage with a wide variety of links for Winnipeggers affected by COVID-19. The resources on this site include information on health, employment, finances, education and much more. You can find their information at the following:
AESES members continue to work hard to do their part in ensuring that the Universities are maintaining their objectives of providing education to the student population and in supporting the important research work that has not stopped during this pandemic. We want to thank each and everyone of you for the professionalism you have displayed and the contributions you are making. AESES’ reputation is strengthened by your collective efforts and we appreciate the work you do to help the Universities to succeed.
Monday, April 20th, 2020
Many of you are now aware through reports in the media that the Pallister Government has asked the Universities, along with other public-sector employers, to find ways to reduce staffing costs by as much as 30 per cent. The Government has said that this move is necessary in order to re-direct their resources towards the needs of the front-line health care workers.
While the reporting in the media is accurate, it’s important that our members are aware that public-sector employers have been asked to report on options to meet targets of 10, 20 and 30 per cent. At this point in time, we do not know which of the target amounts, if any, the Universities will be required to meet.
AESES has been working hard over the past week and weekend meeting with the Universities and other union officials, and to write to the leaders of the Universities and to Premier Pallister to express our serious concerns that any cuts will significantly affect the ability of the Universities to operate. This includes the long-term repercussions of decisions of this magnitude. Copies of these letters are available for viewing on the COVID-19 page of the AESES website at https://aeses.ca/covid-19-info-updates/.
We will continue to press on this front; however, it is always possible that the Pallister Government will have little concern for the financial effect on public-sector employees and will demand that these cuts proceed. Should this be the case, we will work with the Universities to address our members’ concerns about job security and income protection and will do what we can to ensure that the rights and benefits under the Collective Agreements are upheld where possible.
AESES also continues to investigate other ways to support our members during this stressful time. As mentioned in previous communications, we have set aside money to establish a COVID-19 Assistance Fund for those members who encounter a significant loss of income. We hope to be able to send more detailed information on this fund to our membership later this week.
These are unprecedented times and many workers across Canada are experiencing financial and social hardships as a result. As AESES members, we support the hard work of the front-line health care workers, and all those who put themselves at risk each day to serve the needs of the public. However, to expect public-sector employees to bear the burden of the financial costs of the Provincial Government is reprehensible in this time of national crisis.
Saturday, April 18th, 2020
As you are aware, both President Barnard from the University of Manitoba and President Trimbee from The University of Winnipeg sent emails earlier this week to all employees indicating that there has been a new directive from the provincial government with respect to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both messages included the concept that we had to work together as a community to find ways to support the front-line workers during this health crisis. However, we feel it’s important that our members are aware that the government’s directive to all public-sector employers has been to find substantial costs savings in relation to salaries in particular.
AESES is busy petitioning both Universities and the provincial government to reconsider this exercise as it pertains to University employees, as any reductions would severely impact the ability of both Universities to continue their obligations of teaching and research. However, if cuts are determined to be necessary to comply with the government’s directive, we will do all that we can to ensure these are as minimal as possible and are shared across the Universities’ employee groups. This includes pressing the Universities to ensure that any potential reductions are not permanent in nature.
AESES understands that this may be disturbing news to hear at a time when people are already concerned about their health and safety, and may be having difficulty adjusting to the requirements for physical distancing. As soon as we have more information that we can share on these developments, we will be sure to send another communication to our membership.
Thursday, April 16th, 2020
As you may be aware, the University is about to conduct elections for two (2) active plan members to serve on the University Pension Committee. As such, we are calling upon our membership to help ensure that an AESES member is elected to the committee given that we represent the largest union group at the University of Manitoba.With this in mind, AESES’ Board of Representatives is supporting the nomination of Will Christie for the position of Pension Committee member. Will is currently serving as an elected representative on the University Pension Committee and has the support of AESES in continuing his role on this committee. Will also has an exemplary record of service to AESES including positions on the Board of Representatives, Finance Committee, Negotiation Committee and Bargaining Team, and is the AESES representative on the University’s Organizational Safety and Health Advisory Committee. Will also serves as the AESES Treasurer on our Executive Council.
The University has indicated that voting will run from April 17 to May 1. Please consider voting for Will Christie to ensure that AESES has an all-important seat on the Pension Committee.
Tuesday, April 14th, 2020
It is with a heavy heart that the AESES community bids farewell to one of our own, AESES Past-President Wayne Pucci.
Over the years Wayne played an important role at AESES, as well as within the larger UM family. He was an AESES President from 1978 through 1998, a 20-year run! During that time he and his team were involved in attaining key bargaining gains related to staff benefits.
Wayne and his friendship (and advice) will be missed by his former coworkers, board members, and Exec Team members.
His obit notice is available for reading here
Monday, April 13th, 2020
We hope that you all were able to enjoy this past holiday weekend and managed to find new ways to connect with family and friends during our new normal of physical distancing. Many of you have found innovative ways to share your experiences while remaining indoors and have helped others feel a little less alone during this uncertain time. We applaud everyone for doing their part to help flatten the curve here in Manitoba and for showing our true north spirit by helping one another where we can.
Since our last communication to you, AESES has been busy assisting our members with the process of continuing their duties while adjusting to working from home. This is presenting challenges for a number of people, particularly when combined with childcare responsibilities. Many AESES members, however, are still working onsite to support areas of security and animal care as well as in some research and service areas. We are working hard to assist these members with their understandable concerns surrounding physical safety. AESES continues to have regular discussions with Human Resources at both universities to bring these issues forward and to advocate for our members’ interests.
Currently, few AESES members have had their work reduced or stopped entirely. Unfortunately, as the need to continue our physical distancing efforts is being extended, an evaluation of remaining work for positions is likely to take place and areas that have little or no work could potentially see reductions in the next few weeks. To help minimize the impact of temporary layoffs, there have been discussions on the ability to use vacation, banked time or VPP to soften the financial effects of any potential reduction of hours.
We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone, and that some are finding the changes and uncertainty difficult to navigate. In our recent issue of the insideAESES newsletter we had an article on the various supports available and how to connect with them. Please take a moment to re-read the article (click here) and seek out those avenues if you are in need of assistance. Although the AESES Office is currently closed, all staff are still reachable by phone (204-949-5200) or email (email@example.com) to help you.
AESES’ Executive Council has been meeting weekly via video-conference to review the ongoing developments that have been unfolding and discuss how they impact our membership. As a result of these discussions, AESES’ leadership and Board of Representatives have agreed to establish a fund to assist our most severely affected members during this very unprecedented time. An ad hoc committee has been formed to define the form of assistance that will be available and the eligibility criteria. Details will follow soon on how to access this program.
While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Manitoba remains low at this time, this is in large part due to our combined efforts to observe the physical distancing guidelines and practice good hygiene. We all must do our part to ensure that our families, friends and neighbours stay safe and stay well.
Monday, April 13th, 2020
Please see below for an excerpt from our April 2020 insideAESES newsletter:
Can You Tell Me? What Supports are Available to me During the COVID-19 Outbreak?
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, many people are experiencing frustration, anxiety, and confusion on how to handle things. These are unprecedented times and everyone is trying to find their way through this uncharted territory. AESES is here to help guide you to many different kinds of support that you might need during this time.
Thus far, the Government of Canada has extended a number of economic benefits, although individual eligibility may vary. These benefits include items such as:
- Increased Canada Child Benefit (for those who are eligible)
- Increased Goods and Services Tax Credit (for those who are eligible)
- Extra time for filing income taxes
- Mortgage Support
- Updated Canada Emergency Response Benefit
- Moratorium on repayment of Canada Student Loans
- Employment Insurance one week waiting period waived for Sick Leave benefits (for people who do not have sick leave available through work)
Some of these benefits have not taken effect yet. For example, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit should become available in April and May, respectively.
For more information on the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, please refer to the website www.canada.ca.
Mental Health Support
Both Universities have mental health supports available to all staff. At The University of Winnipeg, support is available to eligible employees through Blue Cross’ Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP). At the University of Manitoba, support is available through Shepell’s Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP).
At UW, access MB Blue Cross EFAP via:
Mobile app: mybluecross mobile
At UM, access Shepell via:
Mobile app: My EAP
Additionally, the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM) also has a support line available. When calling, you will be asked to leave your name and phone number, and a representative will contact you as soon as possible. The service is available at the following times on weekdays from 9 AM-9 PM and on weekends from 10 AM-4 PM. The number to call is 204-925-0040. You can also visit their webpage for more information at www.adam.mb.ca.
Are you unable to leave your residence during this time to access everyday items such as groceries and prescriptions? Conversely, are you healthy and able to leave your residence to help others? Help Next Door MB is a way to get and give support. This service operates on the principle of “neighbours helping neighbours” and it offers to connect volunteers with people unable to leave their home due to self-isolation, sickness, and compromised immune systems. Visit www.helpnextdoormb.ca for more information on this free service.
Have you recently been laid off? The Community Unemployed Help Centre provides information, assistance, advice, and representation to individuals dealing with the federal government’s Employment Insurance. They can help those affected individuals navigate through the process of applying for Employment Insurance. The service is available free of charge and can be accessed via phone at 204-942-6556 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.cuhc.mb.ca for more information.
Ongoing Informational Support
If you’re looking for more information on COVID-19, the Province of Manitoba government website provides informational updates and resources for Manitobans. Please visit www.gov.mb.ca for provincial government updates.
Additionally, both Universities have webpages dedicated to communicating updates on COVID-19, as it relates to each employer. At UW, visit www.uwinnipeg.ca/covid-19 for current information. At UM, visit www.umanitoba.ca/coronavirus for ongoing messaging from the University.
Finally, AESES is also committed to providing continuous updates to our members. Please bookmark our page www.aeses.ca/covid-19-info-updates to follow us for relevant information.
The AESES Business Office is currently closed in order to respect physical distancing recommendations set out by the government. That doesn’t mean we are unavailable! Although we are not meeting in-person to provide support to our members at the moment, the office remains operational via phone and email during normal business hours. If you have any questions at all during this time, please reach out to us via phone at 204-949-5200 to leave a message for a call back, or by email at email@example.com.
Wednesday, April 1st, 2020