Our union’s executive supports Covid-19 vaccine requirements for in-person/on campus activities at York at present as the most effective way of keeping our union’s members and the wider York community who are required to be on campus as safe as possible amidst the ongoing pandemic. Our support for this requirement relies on the appropriate health and human rights exemptions being in place for those who are unable to be vaccinated. We have made it clear to York that our support for a Covid-19 vaccine requirement does not mean that we support loss of work, disciplinary action or termination of employment for members who have not been vaccinated, and that these members should be given alternative options for fulfilling their employment contracts regardless of their reasons for not being vaccinated. We will vigorously defend the labour rights of any member facing any of these actions, regardless of vaccination status.
Despite our support for a Covid-19 vaccine requirement in broad terms, we remain concerned by the equity issues that some of our members face related to vaccination and the implementation of York’s vaccine requirement. While Covid-19 vaccine availability is generally widespread, there remain accessibility barriers for marginalized groups including racialized, low-income and migrant communities. These communities and others may also face additional barriers to securing the documentation necessary to prove medical or other valid exemptions to an employer. We will continue to press the importance of these issues in our discussions with York regarding Covid-19 safety and urge them to find solutions to the safe resumption of on-campus activities that do not place an undue burden on our members or introduce unnecessary or unreasonable elements of surveillance into our jobs at York.
The executive’s position on Covid-19 vaccination requirements and Covid-19 safety more broadly comes from extensive discussion as a group, led by motions passed by the membership at general membership meetings, and taking into account the range of views put forward by members at those meetings. The executive’s position on this takes the lead of the membership, and as such the forum to push for any change on this position would be at a general membership meeting. At present, we have no reason to believe that the membership does not overwhelmingly support Covid-19 vaccination requirements for on campus activities in the forthcoming academic year as an important means of keeping ourselves and the wider York community safe.