Cultural Sector Update

Monday, April 20, 2020

Dear Casual Auxiliary Members in the Cultural Sector,

We would like to recognize the specific struggle of all our casual, auxiliary members in the cultural sector. You are the workforce that maintains each institutions’ connection to the public. You are the first to greet visitors, and you receive not only their praise but their complaints with dignity and professionalism. You educate patrons of all ages with in-depth expertise and a thorough willingness unsurpassed by many. You help build a wide variety of exhibitions that enrich our communities. You deliver programs and run events that simply would not exist without your hard work and technical expertise. You do all these things and more without the same benefits, protections, or job security provided by your collective agreement(s). We recognize the work you do and acknowledge that the challenges you face vary greatly from site to site and worker to worker.

Over the past few weeks, many of you have come to us with concerns about job security. You ask questions about your rights under your collective agreement(s). You are confused about the various benefits presented by the federal government and you are unsure how your employer(s) are going to respond. We attempt to address your concerns individually, yet realize we do not always have the answers; this is a frustrating time, to say the least.

We are in unfortunate times, and casual, auxiliary workers everywhere are being hit the hardest. The situation you find yourselves in is problematic and needs to be changed. Your union is working on long-term solutions to the issues that face casual, auxiliary workers in every sector. We continue to bring concerns to employers, but these are slow-moving proposals that are best handled through the bargaining process.

As Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “We are building the ship as we set sail.” This applies to all levels of governance, systems of health care, and economic supports that are being strained to their maximum capacity. The new measures put in place here in Canada are still being worked on, and our ability to respond often depends on the information available. We appreciate your patience while we research possibilities as they continue to present themselves.

Not all the challenges we face will be solved during the current economic downturn. However, there is hope that such times will expose the dependency employers have on casual staff. That they will recognize just how beneficial job security is for both parties, and that they will consider this during the next round of bargaining. You can be certain that your union is advocating for you throughout the pandemic and will maintain this pursuit once the health order has been cleared.

Please keep in mind, we’re all in this together. Each one of us is struggling in our own ways to make sense of this crisis. We are working on your behalf to find common solutions that are mutually beneficial to all levels of staff and will continue to do so even when all of this passes. Keep writing to us with your concerns, keep communicating the challenges you face, and we will do our best to bring these forward.

We’ve compiled various links to websites with up-to-date information. We recommend you check these daily as the information is updated regularly.

In solidarity,

Gail Johnson                                                                  Noel Graves
Staff Representative                                                      Cultural Sector Representative
gjohnson@cupe15.org                                                   graves.cupe@gmail.com

Contact Us:
If you need to reach CUPE 15, please access us through the website (www.cupe15.org), email (email@cupe15.org) or by phone (604-879-4671)

CUPE has put out a Q&A about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit: cupe.ca/canada-emergency-response-benefit-qa

For latest and up-to-date information on the COVID-19 outbreak visit the BC Centre for Disease Control: covid-19.bccdc.ca

For more local news also visit the Government of British Columbia:  www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-feature/coronavirus-disease-covid-19

Government of Canada:  www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19

CUPE BC is regularly posting up-to-date information for all CUPE members in the province at: www.cupe.bc.ca
National also has regularly updated information at: cupe.ca/covid-19

A spreadsheet of benefits provided by a university professor here: drive.google.com/file/d/1lOJn7XS6ETIkbLRodYk681M_2dxkkQsc/view