Re: September Membership Update
Over the last year, we have been working under incredibly difficult conditions. We continueto deal with constantly updated COVID-19 restrictions, chronic short-staffing across all departments, urgent priorities of an ever-changing nature (from rapidly installing plexiglass, evolving policies and procedures, fighting the staffing battle to fill vacancies, short deadlines, and so much more), long wait times on both emergency and non-emergency lines, the heatwave, and we constantly must make do with less while being expected to do more. I don’t need to tell you that things are hard — we live this reality every day.
The Union is hearing that you are tired, that you are burnt out, that you are scared that your next shift will be short-staffed, that you feel guilty for taking time for yourself, that youare frustrated that things have gotten to this point, and that you are feeling disheartenedthat things are not getting better.
A key part of the Union’s work is getting E-Comm to ask for more funding to make change happen. Some of you may remember that recently E-Comm retained Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) to undertake an operational review of police operations which so many of us are involved in either providing that service or supporting that service. Now we all knew that we are understaffed, but just how understaffed, as revealed in the PwC report, highlights how it is our members – the people doing the work – that keep this place afloat.
The PwC report calls for the immediate addition of 125 full-time police call-takers and highlights that police dispatch at ECLMD and ECVI is additionally significantly under-resourced and understaffed. At the time of writing the report, E-Comm was funded for 153 full-time police call-takers. When you have said that you are doing the work of at least two people, you were right. In fact, you’re doing more than the work of two and a half people right now (an addition of 125 full-time call-takers represents an 82% increase). The under-resourcing and under-staffing spills over into all of the support roles. Simply put, we are stretched too thin and there simply aren’t enough of us to provide the service that we know we could be — providing had we had the right resources available to us.
Our job is to hold E-Comm accountable, to advocate E-Comm to make good management decisions, to be a voice for everyone in the membership, to push for things to be fair, to be able to feel included, and to enforce the terms and conditions of the Collective Agreement. Ultimately, we need E-Comm to provide a safe and healthy working environment, work with the local on moving forward on important initiatives, and to correct the wrongs and make things better.
What is the Union doing?
Recently, we put out a workload and health & safety survey that received 372 survey responses– an extraordinarily high and statistically strong result. Thank you to everyone who completed the survey! We are working with the CUPE research department to finalize the results, and we appreciate your patience while we sort through all the valuable information included in the responses to identify all of the key issues. In the meantime, wecan tell you that the preliminary results of this survey reflect and confirm what we have been saying this whole time:
- 92% of respondents indicate that they have been negatively impacted by understaffing.
- 73% of respondents have experienced an increase in workload throughout the pandemic.
- 54% of respondents have actively looked for other employment outside of E-Comm in the last year, and an additional 9% plan to begin looking.
- 73% of respondents believe that the quality of service they are able to provide to the public has worsened over the last three years.
These results highlight that you are not alone in feeling exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed with the current workload and its impacts on your ability to provide a high standard of service. The high number of responses shows how much everyone caresabout this deterioration – the message comes through loud and clear that change is urgently needed. This information will arm us with the information we need to, hopefully, right some of the wrongs and bring awareness to the current state of the membership.
We have continuously encouraged E-Comm to ask for the resources to create this change. E-Comm has asked for an additional $3.2 to $3.8 million from the Lower Mainland police agencies in just 2022; however, it is clear that more funding is required in order to fix the current state. In 2020 alone, E-Comm spent $2.95 million on overtime in just police call-taking and dispatch.
We are embarking on a significant government lobbying and awareness campaign. We’ve prepared a briefing document and a lobbying document describing the extent of the problem, the effect on our members, and recommendations for immediate action and long-lasting change. We reached a critical milestone last Thursday with a meeting with the Mayor of Vancouver, who is one of the most critical decision-makers for our organization.
This lobbying and awareness campaign will continue over the next few months with more meetings with other key decision-makers from the municipalities who own and fund E-Comm and the Provincial Government, who is ultimately responsible for public safety in British Columbia.
In the aftermath of the heatwave, you saw the Union out in the media speaking to the issues we are facing. We released an op-ed highlighting the systemic problems our membership continues to face — that we are under-resourced, under-staffed, and that we are stretched to the limit.
We are also working on a public awareness and community connection campaign. Our greatest strength comes from our members, and our second greatest strength comes frompublic support and awareness of the work that we do. The first phase of this campaign will be happening mainly on social media, and this is where you can directly help our efforts – we are always looking for content showcasing our members in the community. We are also beginning work on creating a community engagement strategy to raise our public profile. If you would like to be involved with this, please reach out to our Recording Secretary Akash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to thank all of the Union representatives from everyone on the Executive Board, to the Shop Stewards, Health and Safety Representatives, Trustees, CIS team, and everyone else who has selflessly given their own time and resources to moving our cause forward. For those that haven’t or aren’t able to give anymore – thank you for coming in and doing the work that we all believe in under extreme conditions to keep each other safe, the operations running, and simply getting the job done – no matter your job title or classification.
Current conditions are difficult and frustrating, with no quick solution, but we are committed to continuing to raise awareness and advocate for the issues impacting our membership daily. The only way we are going to get through the challenges that lay ahead is by supporting and looking out for each other. You are the ones we are fighting for and who inspire us to keep fighting because if there is one thing that we know for certain – it’s that you are the ones keeping this place going.
September is a busy month, and on September 26, 2021, at 8 pm via Zoom, we will be holding our second Annual General Meeting for CUPE Local 8911. At this meeting, we will announce the nominees in the General Elections for the Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer, Trustee (3-year term), and three members for our Bargaining Committee as our Collective Agreement is up for renegotiation at the end of 2022. Nominations for these positions will open on September 19, 2021, at 1 pm.
With the upcoming nominations, it’s important to note that the bylaw changes which were approved by the membership at the May 27, 2021 Special Membership Meeting have been approved by CUPE National and the Grievance Officer position is coming to an end on September 17, 2021. With this change, the Grievance Officer’s responsibilities will be consolidated under the Vice-President role. I would like to take this moment to thank Jacqueline Lai for her service as Grievance Officer and the significant contribution she has made to the membership.
I am looking forward to giving you all another update and taking your questions on September 26, 2021, at 8 pm at our Annual General Meeting. In the meantime, if we can assist in any way, please reach out to us at email@example.com.