Coast Mountain Bus – Update on Mandatory Vaccination Policies
November 3, 2021
To: All MoveUP members at Coast Mountain Bus
We want to thank all members for their patience while CMBC’s mandatory vaccine policy was reviewed by our external legal counsel. We have that now and want to let you know what we have learned.
The Big Picture
Generally, the opinion we received indicated that these policies would likely be viewed as reasonable by an arbitrator. This opinion is based on the balancing of the employer’s obligation of ensuring a safe workplace against an employee’s right to bodily integrity.
The Finer Details
In a few of the policies, our counsel has identified areas of concern that may not meet the definition of reasonable. We will be filing policy grievances to address these concerns. For instance, some of the polices have required full vaccination for staff who work from home 100% of the time. Others intend to apply their policy to people on sick leave. Another area of concern is around whether an employee would be terminated or suspended as a form of discipline. There is a question of whether the employers have given their employees a reasonable amount of time to comply with their policy.
What We Will Do Now
We will be filing policy grievances to address specific issues in the policies. However, based on the legal opinion we have received, we will not be challenging the policy as a whole, nor CMBC’s general right to ensure a safe workplace by requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
We will be working with members who have made legitimate requests for accommodation on the grounds of physical disability and religion. Please know that exemptions on these must be supported by objective evidence. If you believe you require an accommodation of a protected ground under the Human Rights Code, please raise this with your employer immediately.
We will also be contacting the BC Labour Relations Board to determine if there is a requirement for the employer to comply with Section 54 of the Labour Relations Code.
What is Going to Happen
As we mentioned, we will be filing grievances on the portions of the policies that may not be considered reasonable. But the grievance process is slow, and make no mistake, the employers will be going ahead with their policy. Please do not have the misunderstanding that relief will be achieved anytime soon. The grievance and arbitration process can take months if not years.
Friends, there is no magic wand that will stop this policy from being implemented. Members who have chosen to not be vaccinated or choose not to share their vaccination status with their employer, need to understand that reality and make plans to be without income very shortly.
The situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is always changing, and the reasonableness of CMBC’s policy may change with it. We are committed to reviewing the policy for reasonableness depending on factors such as case numbers, hospitalizations, and public health orders.
Bullying and Harassment will not be Tolerated
Over the past several weeks, our staff have been subjected to abusive language and personal attacks. We recognize that this is a stressful time for many, that we are dealing with issues which can be quite polarizing, and that these abusive attacks are not representative of our overall membership. However, bullying and harassment – whether it is towards our staff or towards fellow members – will not be tolerated. Whatever your beliefs, please remember to treat others with dignity and respect.
We remind all our members that those found to have engaged in bullying or harassment may face discipline, including suspension or expulsion from MoveUP. A copy of our union’s Bullying & Harassment Policy can be found here.
David Black, President
Lori Mayhew, Secretary-Treasurer
Rysa Kronebusch, Vice-President, Utilities
Christy Slusarenko, Vice-President, Combined Units
Annette Toth, Vice-President, ICBC