Sheet Metal Workers' International Association

Local 276

Members Update March 23, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Most of all the calls we are receiving at the office right now are people really wanting to know what is going on, and to tell you the truth, it is changing from moment to moment. Our office has been in constant contact with federal and provincial Governments, Work Safe, the Building Trades, other Unions and our own lawyers making sure we have the right information to relay to our members.

Below you will find answers to some of the most common questions that I am hearing right now. If you would like more information or have questions we have not answered please give the office a call at 250-727-3458.

If I feel unsafe should I just leave work?

- Your safety and the safety of your loved ones is the most important thing and refusing unsafe work is your right. The BC Government outlines all the steps that must be followed under the current conditions. want to stress the importance of having all these safety measures followed! If your site is not following the enforced safety measures, you need to inform your employer, WorkSafeBC (1-888- 621-7233), and this Union. If you walk off the site without the conversation with your employer about what can be done to make your workplace safe, your employer can report you as having quit on your ROE which will affect any future EI claim. If they are unable to supply you with a safe working environment then you have the right to ask them for a ROE layoff.

Why are the Unions not shutting down construction?

- Local 276 has no legal authority to direct a closure of a workplace over the COVID-19 pandemic. We have consulted with our legal team and have been directed that any closure initiated by the Local would constitute an unlawful work stoppage. The only way to force construction to shut down is when an order comes down from the government. We are seeing more and more sites closing and a complete shut down may be in the near future.

What is the Union doing for us?

-As stated above we are working with all areas of Government, contractors and Worksafe to maintain the health and safety of our members as well as being proactive on the possible financial issues we will be facing within the coming months. Working with banks and financial institutions to help our members cope with the unforeseen problems. Please see our previous update letter for more details.

Are they going to shut construction down in BC?

- That is the million-dollar question. We are seeing this happen across Canada, but our government is very concerned with the huge impact this will have on our economy and our ability to start rebuilding once we have braved this storm. The bigger question is if we don’t take more drastic measures, does this not just put more workers in harms way and prolong the amount of time before we start to rebuild.

Is the Union office shutting down?

-Our offices are not open for walk-ins, but it’s business as usual at Local 276 to make sure we continue to take care of the membership. Cathy and Rick are both working from home but can be reached through email, Carrol and myself are at the office to take your calls. All meetings and union training classes will be postponed until further notice.

What if I don’t qualify for EI.

- We are seeing things change with the EI system almost daily and we will keep you posted of any future changes we see come about. Right now, the Government has offered Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. For more details on this please see our last Members update.

It’s in times of crisis, that I see the strength, generosity and resilience of our 276 members. We will get through this difficult time together.

Jason Pedersen

Business manager Local 276