Unifor Local 2002 Statement on mandatory vaccination in the workplaces
August 26, 2021 at 8:45 AM
Despite significant progress made in Canada’s campaign to stop the spread of COVID-19 over recent months, including nearly three-quarters of eligible people being fully vaccinated, the country is staring down a fourth wave of the virus. Despite its promising start to vaccination, Canada is far from ending the COVID-19 crisis. National case counts and death tolls continue to climb.
Sadly, this comes as little surprise. Epidemiologists the world over continue to warn that until vaccines reach a critical mass of people, globally, variants will spread – evolving into more highly transmissible and potentially deadlier strains.
Unifor Local 2002, continues to encourage all of our members across Canada to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their coworkers, their families, and their communities. Maintaining the health and safety of our members and the travelling public is a top priority. Unifor members have a right to be safe at work, and our union must uphold that right. This is of paramount importance to our union. Of course, any such mandate must accommodate for legitimate health exemptions, address personal privacy and data protection issues and uphold relevant human rights statutes – not unlike existing mandatory vaccine measures employed in Canada.
The federal government announced on August 13 that COVID-19 vaccinations would be mandatory for federal employees and those working in federally regulated industries, including the aviation sector no later than the end of October. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra also announced that the vaccination requirement will also extend to certain travelers. This includes all commercial air travelers,” his office said in a statement.
Unifor’s Legal Position
Individuals have the right to choose to be vaccinated, but employers have also always had a right to enact reasonable workplace rules. Accordingly, if someone declines vaccination which is their right, and an employer mandates it, which is also their right, and if a decision-maker agrees it was a reasonably necessary measure to keep others safe, including coworkers and the public. Subject to accommodation for documented health and religious exceptions, the worker declining to abide by the policy will likely face consequences, up to and including termination.
The Union is in agreement that these announced measures are crucial as health and safety requirements to protect each other in the workplace. Science and legal opinions we have received support that position.
Local 2002 will also engage with employers to continue to protect the health, safety, and rights of our members. Employers must also ensure that any mandatory vaccine policies, advanced screening, testing, and other measures have input from Unifor.
Our union expects employers to adhere to and uphold collective agreement language, where applicable, and collaborate with us on establishing appropriate processes as well as organizing mandatory information sessions for workers. Our union will continue working to ensure members have clearly defined safety protocols and sufficient access to PPE.
Unifor commits to relentlessly championing progressive, practical, principled, and science-based policies to get Canada through this pandemic and facilitate a safe return to work in the spirit of building a fair, resilient, and inclusive economy.
This has been an especially challenging year for everyone in all sectors, but particularly in our aviation sector. It is our collective responsibility to keep each other safe.
President-Unifor Local 2002