Vancouver Art Gallery Members Update

Friday, June 19, 2020

We were glad to hear many of you found the webinar helpful. The discussions with the Gallery continue to take place: work reductions, the implementation of the WorkShare program, and permanent layoffs are all on the table. Both parties recognize the capabilities of WorkShare to support the full-time permanent staff and are working hard at finalizing those details. We will break down each section of the new Letter of Understanding (LOU) once it is signed and hold another online meeting in order to offer further explanation. Please look for further communications in the weeks ahead.

Thanks to those of you who filled out the survey; it has helped broaden our perspective for the issues at hand. Many of the permanent staff replied that their workload has stayed the same even though their hours have been reduced. As the employer has predicted work reductions to continue for the years to come, managing your workload will be most critical at this time. One of the many metrics in understanding daily operations at the Gallery is the ability for staff to complete the jobs assigned to them. If work is being done and unaccounted for (i.e. if you are working for free) then you are undermining your ability to regain full employment. Without a complete picture of the work being done, the Gallery will not be able to justify the further expense of returning jobs to full time. We need to be very clear in this: you must not volunteer your time. Doing so will result in further corrosion of the workforce. The Gallery is committed to returning to full capacity and will need your support to do so. The best way for you to do this is to keep accurate track of your time including full lunch breaks and coffee/tea breaks.

While many details of the new LOU are still being sorted out, it has become clear to us that the majority of permanent part-time employees will be returning to their regular hours. We understand the work reductions have hit this group particularly hard and we are doing our best to make sure we can get you back to your contractual hours as soon as possible.

We have been in extensive discussions with many of the auxiliary (casual) staff around the potentiality of returning to work. We recognize the precarious predicament of this class of workers and continue to advocate for the conversion of casual positions to permanent jobs. The Gallery has not yet provided an illustration of where or when casual workers will return, especially in the Public Programs and Education department. This department has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 safety measures and the resulting decline in programs and revenue means a reduction in work for everyone. We will carry forward our campaign to permanently integrate these and other casual staff into the workforce as the budget allows. For now, however, the hard truth is that without the demand for labour, there is no demand for casual staff. We sincerely hope that as the Gallery rebuilds its workforce they will recognize their dependence on casual positions by creating permanent jobs for them.

We encourage you to continue the dialogue we have had thus far. Please keep reaching out with questions or concerns as you return to work. We are here to support you through this difficult transition and realize there will be many bumps along the way. You all have been extremely accommodating during these past few months. Thank you for making our job representing you that much more enriching.

We will be in touch soon in regards to details surrounding the new Letter of Understanding and an upcoming online seminar.

In solidarity,
Gail Johnson
Staff Representative

Noel Graves
Cultural Sector Representative

Warren Williams