The union representing 11 employees of the City of North Bay fired over the municipality's workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy has quickly moved to advocate for their jobs.
"Local 122 has filed grievances for all of our terminated members," advises Brent Lavigne, president of the local CUPE chapter. "We have also filed a policy grievance to show how unreasonable the City's policy is, and how the employer has not been following its own policy."
See related: City of North Bay fires 11 over vaccination policy
Lavigne says, fundamentally, the union does not oppose a COVID-19 policy "but it needs to be fair across the board for everything under the umbrella of the Corporation of the City of North Bay."
The union president points to the vaccination policy adopted by the North Bay Police Service as a prime example of uneven application of the measure.
See also: NBPS policy to pass cost of COVID-19 testing onto its members
"As we just saw, the NBPS has a policy that includes rapid antigen testing for anyone that chooses not to get the shot. We have members that would have been more than glad to pay for their own tests."
Although the NBPS is funded by the City, it is overseen by the North Bay Police Board and NBPS members are considered to be employees of the board.
"I get the reasons for having a policy and I’m OK with it but the I feel the City has gone too far with the terminations," Lavigne continues. "These are bully tactics. There’s no need to terminate anyone, they can stay at home on unpaid leave. It won’t cost the city a penny to do this."
Lavigne says the union has also taken notice of the inconsistent implementation of the policies across departments in the City's purview. He says, "we have members that have been terminated when some are just implementing their policies now."
And, the policy does nothing to prevent potentially unvaccinated contractors, delivery people, inspectors and others to enter City facilities without having to show proof of vaccination, he says. And, the public is still allowed to enter City Hall, albeit with limited access to the building.
"If Joe Public can enter our facilities," he asks, "why can’t our members?"