The union representing the County of Wellington’s social services department has issued a statement in response to a recently announced COVID vaccine policy for its municipal workers.
The statement from CUPE Local 973 president Connie McDonald overall agrees in principle with the policy but takes some issue with certain aspects of it.
The Local 973 is the union for the County of Wellington’s social services department, the only unionized members of the municipality’s workforce.
On Sept. 9, the county announced all employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID or be required to undergo regular rapid testing beginning Oct. 23.
A media release said legitimate exemptions based on the Ontario Human Rights Code will be accommodated but employees may be required to pay for each rapid antigen test.
McDonald wrote the county did reach out union representatives to discuss main points and provide feedback but not all recommendations the union made were implemented.
The statement claimed requiring members to pay directly violates their collective agreement.
“This is a corporate policy that has been implemented and as such Local 973 believes the County of Wellington should cover the costs of these tests,” McDonald said.
“CUPE Local 973 will not allow the violation to go unchallenged through the grievance process and/or through arbitration if required.”
However, McDonald wrote the union is hopeful the county will recognize the agreement and provide these tests at no cost to members.
McDonald stated historically CUPE has promoted the use of vaccines as a way to control the spread of disease and the Local 973 encourages members to make an informed decision with their medical providers.
“CUPE Local 973 also recognizes that not all members are able to get vaccinated, and as such we have a duty to represent those members,” McDonald wrote.
County employees must disclose their vaccination status starting Sept. 22.