Emergency leave, instead of layoffs, for COVID-19-impacted City of London workers

CUPE Local 101, which represents front-line “inside” municipal workers, and the City of London, Ont., have reached an agreement to move forward with designated emergency leaves (DEL) for some union members as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

In a message posted to members on its website, the union said it previously noted that job losses were possible due to “the slowdown caused by COVID-19 and the budget shortfall” but “until now, our workforce has been intact.”

READ MORE: COVID-19 could deal $33M financial hit to London by end of August, city staff project

The union says a DEL instead of a layoff will begin next week for “some employees” adding that affected employees “will be notified by their manager” on Thursday.

“Late [Wednesday] evening an agreement was reached and signed between the Employer and the Union. These extensive talks were aimed at identifying a fair process for how a DEL would be applied, and how it would end,” wrote CUPE Local 101 president Adam Brightling.

“This is not unique to CUPE Local 101, it is happening in all City of London unions and in the management group alike. This DEL process, unlike a layoff, will allow people to apply for the CERB benefit but maintain their benefits and seniority, and describes how a return to work will occur.”

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The message to members added that while the collective agreement has “layoff and bumping rules according to seniority,” the province previously enacted orders under the state of emergency which suspends portions of collective agreements which required the union and the city to reach a new agreement specific to this situation.

READ MORE: London city hall defers, lays off more casual and summer employees amid COVID-19

As well, the DEL means that temporary job losses will happen “by job classification, first with temporary staff before permanent staff, and from lowest seniority before higher seniority” rather than simply by “lowest seniority to highest.”

“Again, we do not like this, it goes against the [collective agreement], and against our belief that seniority across the membership should prevail, but the Premier’s Orders allow this to happen. No doubt there will be many more questions, and we will continue to answer them the best we can,” Brightling continued.

“Once the government lifts the States of Emergency and end the Orders, those on DEL leave will be immediately recalled to work”

Global News has reached out to the union and the city for further comment.

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