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AUPE responds to questions about the pandemic

March 16, 2020 update - The entire AUPE executive thanks you for your ongoing dedication and solidarity with the people of this province and stands with you.

AUPE responds to questions about the pandemic

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The past several days have been a reminder of how quickly everything can change. And how quickly we can act when we work together.

AUPE members continue to come through for fellow Albertans and their communities in major ways. In rural and urban settings, you are keeping the public safe during this pandemic. Your collective commitment to delivering and protecting public services is what’s keeping our province steady during crisis. The entire AUPE executive thanks you for your ongoing dedication and solidarity with the people of this province and stands with you.

What members need to know

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AUPE is continuing to work hard to move forward and building on our collective capacity to stand strong and proud against cuts to jobs and services. The fight to ensure public services grow to meet the needs of a growing province is even more urgent in light of the current pandemic response taking place across Alberta, and the world.

To help all AUPE members navigate this challenging time, we want to answer some of the most pressing questions you might have.

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  1. I don't have symptoms, should I be going to work?

    Right now, the answer to this question is different for everybody. Please check your employers’ websites and/or staff portals or your Human Resources Department for clarification on any changes to standard operating procedures. Above all, AUPE urges all members and the public to keep up-to-date with public health efforts and follow their directives at all times.

    Visit alberta.ca/covid19 regularly as it is updated at least twice daily. While the risk to the general public remains low as of noon today (March 16), that could change at any time and it’s important you follow public health guidelines to protect yourselves, your loved ones and the most vulnerable Albertans.

  2. What about COVID19-related OHS concerns at work?

    It is your employers’ responsibility to ensure you have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and a safe workplace.

    While it’s their job to keep you informed of these measures and any changes to standard operational practices during the pandemic, find out who your worksite AUPE steward is, so you can ask them about your rights and any relevant changes to standard operating procedures.

    Now more than ever we need to work together to keep the frontlines safe, and know who we can turn to for the latest updates.

    If you don’t know who your worksite steward is, call the Member Resource Centre at 1-800-232-7284 and have your Local and Chapter number ready so they can help you find a contact.

  3. What about Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare workers?

    Over the last few weeks, AUPE and other health-care unions have been meeting with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to discuss how we can put our frontline health-care workers’ safety at the highest level.

    To date, we’ve requested that AHS increase their respiratory protective equipment (RPE) standards to require (at minimum) an N-95 respirator for all health-care workers who may come into contact with the COVID-19 virus, including a suspected or confirmed case. Please check aupe.org in the coming days for more information about proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for health-care workers.

    If you have any concerns about the above information, please contact the Members Resource Centre at 1-800-232-7284.

  4. I am under financial stress and intense anxiety, what can I do?

    GET SUPPORT.
    As a benefit of your AUPE membership there is free, confidential help available. This support is made possible through the union dues all members contribute to allow for benefits in times of trouble.

    If you are experiencing intense anxiety or vulnerability due to traumatic or crisis events occurring at work, call AUPE’s Crisis Support Service at 1-844-744-7026. After an initial assessment to ensure that your crisis is related to workplace events, you will receive up to six counselling sessions per crisis situation. This includes financial counselling. Visit the AUPE website for more info.

    KNOW YOUR HEALTH BENEFITS.
    Health benefits are an important part of a contract, and many AUPE members have had to fight to get benefits, keep them, and improve them. All working Albertans will also be subject to changes made to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code today that will allow all Alberta workers to take 14 days of paid, job-protected leave if they are required to self-isolate, are sick or caring for a loved one with COVID-19.

    https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx#p22780s6

    If you have short-term disability or additional health or leave benefits that you’ve negotiated into your collective agreement, look up your local to find your collective agreement. If you have questions about your benefits as outlined in your collective agreement, call the Member Resource Centre.

  5. What happens to the union activity I’m signed up for, like AGMs or courses during the pandemic?

    In addition to cancelling all meetings, events and education sessions for at least 30 days effective today (March 16), AUPE is making every effort to ensure the safety of our members and staff while continuing to ensure all members’ rights under their respective collective agreements are respected at this difficult time.

  6. If AUPE in-person courses are cancelled what do I do about the time off request I already got approved by my employer?

    All in-person courses from March 16 – April 15 have been postponed. For members who have received employer approval for time off for union business, please talk to your employer in order to cancel your time off request.

    If you’re currently registered for a course or event in the next 30 days and there is another course in your area after April 16 or later, you are welcome to register for the later course date.  "Intro to Your Union," "Intro to OHS" and "Basic Conflict Management" are still available to members.

    If you have questions about this, please email the AUPE Education Registrar at registrar@aupe.org.

Stay connected

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Please continue to check aupe.org for more updates on COVID-19 and our union’s role in the fight. It’s going to take all of us working together and staying informed to protect ourselves, our communities and working people across the province. Let’s do what we do best.

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