Dear QUFA Member,
I hope that the return to classes has gone smoothly for you. As you might imagine the QUFA Staff have been quite busy assisting members who require accommodations in order to comply with the recent requirements that our employer has mandated. I especially want to acknowledge the tireless efforts of our Grievance Officer – Peggy Smith and our Member Services Officer – Micheline Waring; they have really gone above and beyond these past few months in ensuring that the concerns of QUFA Members are addressed promptly and appropriately.
As I have indicated to you previously, QUFA filed a grievance against the University for its failure to comply with their obligations under both the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Queen’s – QUFA Collective Agreement. On September 8th, QUFA and the University met with a mediator and managed to reach a settlement. Essentially the University has agreed to meet a specific set of standards for ventilation, and that it would contract with qualified professionals to have the ventilation (air flow) measured in all classrooms, teaching labs, libraries, and shared office spaces on campus by the end of December. The University also committed to making such measurements on a smaller subset of spaces by October 15th. The spaces in the initial group include all large classrooms on campus, and all small classrooms in Kingston Hall, Ontario Hall, Cataraqui Building, and Jeffrey Hall, and all shared office spaces in the Law Library. For specific terms of the settlement, please see the Minutes of Settlement.
In a previous update, I reminded you of your right under the OHSA to refuse unsafe work. There are actually three main rights under the OHSA: the right to participate, the right to know, and the right to refuse unsafe work.
The right to know includes the right to know about any hazards to which you as a worker might be exposed. QUFA has now done everything we can do to enforce the OHSA and to ensure that the JHSC’s are equipped to exercise their statutory powers. The JHSC is an efficient, effective, and legal body trained to assist you. Members should feel confident in reporting their concerns through the proper process should there be additional concerns about health and safety issues in the classroom going forward.
Under the OHSA, the right to participate means that employees have a right to be involved in the process of identifying and resolving workplace health and safety concerns. The right to participate is why the Joint Health and Safety Committees are so important; they are the primary forum through which employees exercise their right to participate. For more information about your rights and duties under the OHSA, please refer to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development website (https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/faqs/rights.php).
Our Queen’s Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs) are tasked to assist in maintaining a safe and healthy working environment. At their monthly meetings, JHSCs discuss and comment on new health and safety policies, report on inspections of each department and building on campus, and bring health and safety concerns from QUFA Members forward. We urge you to use the Internal Response System and to contact your department or unit Head with your health and safety concerns. If you have not received a satisfactory solution, please get in touch with the QUFA Joint Health and Safety Committee Representative in your area:
Administrative Services: Shamel Addas – firstname.lastname@example.org
Arts and Science: Monika Holzschuh – email@example.com
Engineering and Applied Science: Nicolas Hudon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Library: Gillian Akenson – email@example.com
Education: Stephen Haberer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Sciences [temporary]: Monika Holzschuh – email@example.com
Jordan Morelli – President
Queen’s University Faculty Association