| 08-27-2020

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EMPP COVID-19 Concerns & Mandatory Masks

As many of you may already know, one of our members in the EMPP tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug 21. Their last day of work before going into isolation and seeking testing was Aug 16. AHS intervened immediately after the case was confirmed and the EMPP was shut down for a complete fumigated deep-cleaning. Those on scheduled shifts that were cancelled were sent home with pay, and regular operations resumed Aug 22 at 10am. Anyone in close contact with the member was instructed to self-isolate (with pay) and seek testing. As of writing this, neither the self-isolating members or AHS tracking have resulted in any more confirmed cases.

Although many of us are suffering pandemic fatigue and may be letting our guard down, this latest scare should remind us to remain vigilant in our health measures. Last month, Edmonton city council passed a bylaw that makes wearing a mask mandatory for all public, indoor places. While this bylaw applies to our Edmonton members at retail outlets and counters dealing with the public, it does not apply to our members while working in the depots or processing plant. Despite this bylaw not applying to most of our Edmonton members while at work, our local union Executive is strongly encouraging our members to always wear a mask while working in their facilities.

The biggest reason for this appeal is that when a person is infected with C19, that person might not show symptoms for many days, or may remain asymptomatic throughout. In either case, if a person is unknowingly infected but is properly wearing a mask that fully covers their nose and mouth, it will drastically reduce the potential, and extent, the virus could spread throughout the workplace. Wearing a mask during this pandemic is a small gesture of consideration that will help keep ourselves and our co-workers safer. As we’ve said from the beginning, it’s inevitable some of our members will contract C19 but the distancing, sanitization and face covering measures we take now will determine how much that infection is able to spread. Getting into this habit of mask wearing before back-to-school and flu season is upon us is especially important because infection rates will likely rise again.

Our local received roughly 900 face masks from the National union office which we did our best to distribute evenly throughout our local of 2400 members over the past month. We were told more masks would be sent to us but were not given a date. We will update you when we receive more but, until then, please make use of other widely available masks, bandanas, or face coverings. As always, our office is here to help should you have any questions or concerns.

In solidarity,

Roland Schmidt
President, CUPW 730