- Does the Union support mandatory vaccination policies in the workplace?
No. The Union supports policies that have choice. This means alternate methods and controls that are put in place to accommodate those that are exempt from vaccination, including those that make a choice to forego vaccination for personal reasons.
All employers have a management right to introduce workplace policies, and the Union’s job is to ensure that the policies being developed and implemented do not conflict with the Collective Agreement, are reasonable in the circumstances, allow for exemption and accommodation detailed in the Humans Rights Code, and are consistent with the laws regarding privacy of personal information.
- Is the Union getting legal advice on these mandatory policies?
Yes. The Union is assessing the legal landscape daily around mandatory vaccination policies across Canada. Who is implementing these policies, the policy content, for what reason it is being implemented and why it may be challenged through grievance or the courts. We are in daily contact with our counsel and other Unions in our same situation.
- How many of our contractors have mandatory vaccination polices as of today?
None. As of today we do not know of any contractor that has their own mandatory vaccination policy in place. Contractors are currently being compelled to implement mandatory vaccination policies put in place by the owner/clients on work sites where they have been awarded the work.
- Can the Union grieve mandatory vaccination policies?
Yes. We can grieve a policy that is put in place by a contractor that we have a collective agreement relationship with, and we will grieve policies that are considered unreasonable and outside of the collective agreement.
- Can the Union grieve a policy put in place by an owner/client at a worksite where Boilermakers work?
This becomes much more difficult and we are continually discussing our options with counsel. We can possibly grieve our contractor that is adhering to a site policy which we don’t accept as being reasonable in the circumstances. In doing so the Union must always assess the likelihood of success, in addition to the hazards of doing this because there is always the underlying risk that the owner can award our Boilermaker work to others, and our union contractors risk of losing the work. Or, our contractors refuse the work from the owner because of being subject to grievance. We must assess these on a case by case basis and it will be dependent on the type of work, the contractors size, the availability of alternate contractors and workers in the region, or unfriendly unions willing to accept the said work, etc..
- Some contractors are stating the site owner requires a mandatory vaccination policy, but not everyone is being treated equally. What can we do about this?
If you know that some owners are implementing site policies, but our contractors are not treating all employees equally, we need to know about it. All policies must be non-discriminatory and can be grieved if found to be otherwise.
- What is the opinion of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in Canada?
You can see the letter from IBB VP Arnie Stadnick here on the IBB Canada Website:
- For an in-depth look at the The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, see the following link:
Message from Lodge 359:
Most large industrial sites in BC are now developing and implementing worksite policies for mandatory vaccination to access their worksites during the pandemic. They are further being encouraged by the Provincial Medical Health Officer to do the same. The Federal and BC Provincial Governments are also mandating policies for their workforce’s.
The Union will continue to review the policies as they arise, and will continue to seek legal opinions and monitor the court and arbitration challenges as the landscape continues to evolve around us and across Canada. We will always fight for individuals that are wrongfully denied their Human Rights exemptions and accommodations. The Union must advise our membership that at this time, remaining unvaccinated as a personal choice will almost certainly limit your ability to access many Boilermaker worksites during the pandemic. It will also affect your employment if you are currently onsite working during the implementation of these policies. If further court challenges and arbitration decisions arise that successfully challenge these policies then that may change. Where the Union and our counsel believe that we have a chance at success at challenges, we will and are pursuing them. That said, the reality is that the Union and its legal counsel do not anticipate any resolve in the short term.
If you are presently employed at a worksite that is either contemplating or implementing a mandatory vaccination policy and you will not be in compliance with their policy, our current advice is that you should not quit your employment. Let your employer determine your employment status as policies take effect. If you are terminated (dismissed/laid off) because you failed to comply with a vaccine policy, you may not be eligible for EI benefits. If you require further information please contact us before deciding on a course of action to determine the most up to date information we have available.
We will update this FAQ as things change.
Boilermakers Lodge 359