days until our Collective Agreement expires, we are preparing, we are united and we will make change.

Day of Mourning

Please join us in a moment of silence to honour our CUPE colleagues who lost their lives at work in 2023, as well as the thousands of workers from all industries who suffered workplace injuries or deaths while on the job.

Jennifer Doucette, CUPE Local 1630, Manitoba
Steven Seekins, CUPE Local 374, British Columbia.

The National Day of Mourning began as a CUPE initiative, led by Safety Director Colin Lambert who had worked as a steelworker and miner. It was passed at the National Convention in 1985, and by the Canada Labour Congress in 1986. The goals were simple: raise awareness of workers killed or injured on the job. In doing so, we are encouraged to improve health and safety legislation, raise awareness of worker rights, and improve working conditions.

In 1991 a private members bill was passed in the House of Commons officially marking April 28th as a National Day of Mourning.

As workers in a safety-sensitive industry, we must never let our guard down. Never feel embarrassed, ashamed or afraid of asking questions or raising concerns. Workplace safety systems depend on this. It is our RIGHT and our RESPONSIBILITY.

As safety leaders, we regularly engage our colleagues in management on tough issues. We sometimes raise uncomfortable questions and challenge assumptions as well as established practices. Recognizing that excellence isn’t a finite goal but rather an ongoing journey is crucial to sustaining a culture of safety and continuous improvement in any organization.

You can learn more about the history of the National Day of Mourning and progress in workplace safety here:

CUPE Counterpoint article

CCOHS Day of Mourning page

Gate Gourmet Strike

In hearing your concerns, we have confirmed with the company the processes for various issues. We have also been informed that there is no intent to get workers to do jobs that are out-of-scope.

While it is often our natural tendency to do everything possible to lessen the impact of disruptions to our customers, for your health and safety, it’s important to continue to follow established processes. If there are any issues, please respectfully convey them to the manager meeting your flight or call STOC so that the appropriate personnel can be dispatched.

Our understanding is that many management personnel are currently taking on extended shifts to get product to aircraft. Just like us, they are coping with abnormal work.

Carts/Equipment on Bridges:
We have confirmed with the company that there is no expectation that crews move carts onto/ off of aircraft and that all IFS management team members are aware. In some cases, carts may be staged at the bottom of the bridge, but someone from the management team will board the materials.

If there are any issues, contact STOC so that an IFS management team member can meet the flight.

Food:
Members have reported going all shift without eating because there is no food for purchase onboard.

During the catering strike, we suggest packing snacks and meals to the greatest extent possible. While on a layover, consider your needs for the next day and make use of the hotel fridge. That being the case, if you find yourself unable to secure food before the day’s start due to pick up, customs or other factors, discuss with your crew and follow established protocols in your FAM, which prioritize nourishment for the crew to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.

Crew Water:
The company has confirmed that crew water should be boarded. If this isn’t the case, please call STOC. IFS has supplies throughout the terminal that can be brought to the aircraft.

Garbage Removal:
We have received concerns about garbage not being picked up or left on the bridge. The company advises they have worked hard to reach most aircraft proactively to retrieve refuse. If there is no management team member present to do this, please advise STOC as there is no expectation for the crew to engage in this activity.

Strikes function through the inconvenience they cause. In this case, we are directly impacted, and this may create undue stress and tension. Let’s remember our roles and that above all, respect is key to a safe workplace.

Please keep the Union advised by emailing contact@accomponent.ca. To address any issues with management, it is important to provide relevant details like FLT#, DATE, TIME, brief description.

In Touch – January 2024

Post-Pandemic Changes:
2023 finally ushered in a “new normal”. As part of this, many policies have been relaxed or removed. But there were some lessons learned during the pandemic and we would like to remind members of what  we have maintained in the workplace:

  • PPE
    • Will remain available for crew on an ongoing basis.
    • These can be found in the crew centres, as well as onboard in the satchel (in reduced quantities). Members are encouraged to stock up in crew centres.
    • It is crucial to file a health and safety complaint e-report if supplies are insufficient or if there is a problem. This has already allowed the committees to request that onboard quantities be revised (more).
    • Work is underway to re-integrate information about PPE into the regular ePub.
  • Reporting to work sick
    • Prevents you from recovering and is unfair because it gets your colleagues ill as well.
    • If you have signs or symptoms of illness, there is an expectation to stay out of the workplace: ACAeronet > Spotlight > Infectious Respiratory Diseases.
    • Contact your union local if you have any questions about sick leave provisions or insurance. Remember that we now have access to the Maple / LifeWorks Telehealth service, which can help avoid wait times in clinics or the ER should you need to consult a physician.

Physical Health and Safety:
Your health and safety representatives have worked hard to continue addressing physical health and safety issues in the workplace. This is a difficult task, involving many stakeholders. Some of the recent efforts include:

  • Hosting a two-day ergonomics training at our head office in September run by the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services. This was attended by all Air Canada Component of CUPE OHS reps, as well as AC Mainline safety management, AC Mainline ergonomist, and a safety rep from the Canadian Flight Attendants Union (Jazz).
  • Ongoing work to address issues raised through various channels about challenges with aircraft, including the 737.
  • Participating in a review and revamp of the Physical and Cognitive Demands Assessments for our roles as flight attendants and service directors.  These documents serve as important guides for various stakeholders including safety when reviewing hazards, processes and generating solutions. They had not been updated since the early-mid 2000s.

Psychological Health and Safety:
In 2019, the Canada Labour Code Part II changed to include both physical and psychological aspects of safety. With the resumption of a more regular workflow in 2023, your reps embarked on several projects:

  • Creation and continued work to develop a psychological health and safety program at AC Mainline, through work at the Policy Health and Safety Committee. This is currently at the stage of a department-wide hazard assessment.
  • Ongoing discussions at the ML Policy Health and Safety Committee about psychological health in the workplace and how to integrate it into daily operations.
  • ACC OHS Chair and YVR base president began a second professional certificate program at Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences focusing on mental health in the return-to-work environment.
  • The ACC OHS committee, as well as various ACCEX members, EAP committee members and Airline Division union representatives attended a two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). The goal was to gain a better common understanding of the issue of suicide to be able to build better support for members across the various branches of our Union.
  • The results of the Stress Assess survey, completed by 4,700 members from AC Mainline and Rouge were reviewed in detail with ACCEX, the ACC Occupational Health and Safety Committee with the assistance of experts at the Ontario Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.
  • The AC Mainline Employee Safety Pulse Survey results were reviewed in detail with the company, with various goals set in place to improve. These discussions have also included and benefited from Stress Assess results.
  • Work has been conducted into developing a critical incident response program (CIRP) at the Airline Division of CUPE, spearheaded by work at Air Canada Component:
    • Outreach and consultation with partner unions.
    • Extensive research into past CUPE CIRPs as well as programs in existence at other unions and workplaces.
    • A 27-hour training for CIRP project leaders in individual and group crisis intervention by the International Critical Incident and Stress Foundation.
    • A detailed project management plan with an end goal of launching a CIRP by summer 2024.

Help drive change – Report:
Reporting is a crucial obligation and right that drives all the company’s safety work – including ours at the committees!

  • More than ever, your reports are being used to generate data that drives work at safety committees, as well as within the AC organization.
  • If you are unsure whether to report – report!
  • Health and safety work takes time. If you wonder what’s happening with your report or file, ask us! We’ll be happy to provide you an update, explain the process, listen to any frustrations, and even introduce you to the committee and management.

 

In Solidarity,

Your Component Occupational Health and Safety Committee

Last Call! Harvard FA Health Survey

Last call to participate in the FA health survey! It will close for submissions on September 22nd.

The Union remains in contact with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, regarding their Flight Attendant Health Study. Since 2007, tens of thousands of cabin crew have taken the survey, which has led to significant research into occupational health issues affecting our workgroup. As in previous years, we are informing you of this initiative as it is run by a reputable institution and concerns a topic that is important to all of us.

You may also be interested in the www.fahealth.org website, which is linked to the survey. It contains a wealth of information regarding cabin crew health, as well as other opportunities run by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and/or Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine and/or the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The Union has no ties or oversight regarding this site or other programs offered on it.

For your convenience, the Union has updated its survey Q&A document, which you will find below. The Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study can be accessed by clicking HERE.

As always, please reach out to us if you have any concerns or questions by emailing contact@accomponent.ca.

In Solidarity,

Your Component Occupational Health and Safety Committee

– – – –

Q&A Regarding the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study:

Who can participate? Is the Study open to previous participants or retirees?
The study is open to all current, former and retired cabin personnel from AC Mainline/Rouge or their predecessor airlines, including those who have previously participated in the survey. Those who have participated in the past will notice some repetition in the questions, but also new ones which have been integrated since the last wave.

Why are AC Mainline/Rouge cabin personnel being invited to participate in this survey? 
The Harvard flight attendant health survey was first administered in 2007 with cabin personnel at Alaska Airlines and US Airways represented by the U.S. Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), and with funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. Based on a very positive relationship with the professors conducting this survey and the importance of their work, the AFA referred the Airline Division of CUPE to the project leaders, and a second and third of the study was performed with various CUPE Airline Division members, Southwest Airlines and British Airways. This year, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has reached out directly to solicit further participation from CUPE Airline Division members in the study’s fourth wave.

Why do I have to give my name and other personal contact information to participate in the survey?
This survey and study are being done in accordance with strict Harvard University scientific research protocols. As a result, participants must provide their names and address to give consent to participate in the survey. In addition, the provision of this personal information ensures that the survey is being completed by a legitimate participant, namely an AC or AC rouge flight attendant or in-charge flight attendant, and not someone else.

How will the privacy of my personal information be protected? 
We raised exactly those concerns with regard to protecting our members’ personal information in 2015, and again this year, and were assured that the confidentiality of our members is ensured, in accordance with the University’s Level 3 privacy provisions. As stated in the bulletin at the start of the survey, names/addresses are removed from the medical information once the survey is received and replaced with numerical identifiers. Further questions about provisions for confidentiality may be referred to the study administrators using the contact information below.

I’m still concerned about the privacy of my personal information. What should I do? 
As this is an externally run study, the Union does not have control over its contents. In the past, we worked with the Harvard study administrators to find different ways to get around this name and address requirements but could not. You need to be comfortable with this aspect of the survey. If you are not, remember that participation is entirely voluntary. Further questions about provisions for confidentiality may be referred to the study administrators using the contact information below.

Are all questions mandatory? 
As referenced on the first page of the survey, you may skip questions. However, please keep in mind that the survey is programmed to adapt to your responses, which helps the system decide what follow-up questions need to be asked.

What if I decide to stop filling out the survey at some point? Will what I have put in up to that point be accepted?
Some of the data may be usable, but not all depending on the level of completeness. We suggest that you give yourself sufficient time to complete the entire survey (approximately 20-30 minutes), to ensure that the information is entirely usable.

Why is the survey only available in English? 
The Union’s goal is to advance and improve on causes dear to its members. While the Union’s direct internal communication with members is always made in English and French, participation in endeavours of international scope sometimes involves adapting to the realities of their country of origin.

This study is an initiative of an American research institution, subject to its own applicable language policies and legislation. The core questions were developed in English and have been used for each successive wave of participants from various countries.

The potential for introducing errors or disparities in the data collected due to a possible loss of meaning through the creation of a French version of the survey, compounded by the costs of highly technical translation requirements could render the participation of our members prohibitive to the institution administering the survey. This would not be in the best interest of the Union’s members.

The survey offers a draw for Apple watches. Will I be eligible for this prize?
Because draws are affected by different legislation depending on country and province, the Union is unable to guarantee eligibility for this participation prize. We urge you to consider participating as a goodwill contribution to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s invaluable research into cabin crew health and wellness.

I still have questions. Who do I contact? 
If you have any other questions specific to the survey, please send them directly to the administrators of the Harvard survey as indicated on the website:

Dr. Nidhi Ghildayal
nidhighildayal@hsph.harvard.edu

Courtney Leimanis
leimanis@hsph.harvard.edu

Ethan M. Lawler
ethan.lawler2024@utexas.edu

Eileen McNeely
Principal Investigator
emcneely@hsph.harvard.edu

Cosmic Radiation

DID YOU KNOW?
A cosmic radiation program was implemented at the company following discussions with the Union and at the Policy Health and Safety Committee. This program follows a government advisory document which outlines the minimum steps that Canadian air carriers should follow in order to provide their employees with an opportunity to monitor and minimize their exposure to cosmic radiation.

REMEMBER:
Federal guidelines require that an employee’s exposure is no more than 50mSv in any five-year period or 20 mSv within any 12-month period.

To ensure this, the guidelines also require employers to take measures to allow any employee approaching 6mSv to reduce their exposure.  This is in line with the ALARP principle of keeping exposure as low as reasonably possible.

  • You will receive summary emails detailing your cumulative exposure year-to-date.
  • If you are projected to approach 6mSv within the year, you will receive a separate email.
  • If you have exceeded 6mSv, you will receive a separate email
  • Separate exposure recommendations exist for pregnant persons (max 1mSv). See your local for details.

You can view your exposure and history any time, as well as consult the FAQ document by going to http://aircanada.pcaire.com/.

TAKEAWAY:
Your OH&S committees can answer questions and your bidding reps can assist in suggesting bid choices that may help reduce exposure.

Emails regarding levels approaching or exceeding 6mSv will include an invitation to discuss options to reduce exposure. We urge you to accept this offer. Please note that you may have union representation for this discussion.

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee