SPECIAL STATEMENT REGARDING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC
As we are all acutely aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the way society operates. Our Union is not exempt from this. As a result, the 2nd verification of the National Board of Trustees was very different than any before it.
In late Summer 2020, the National Executive Board passed a resolution to “..authorize all National meetings…be held by virtual platforms until June 2021.” When the National Board of Trustees objected to this resolution, it was told that this was now the way in which the National Office was operating due to safety concerns and orders from Regional health units and medical officers.
On November 10, 2020, the National Board of Trustees met via telephone and the Zoom platform to discuss this issue. While there were mixed feelings and differing opinions as to the ability of a verification to be performed remotely, the National Board of Trustees notified the National Executive Board that it was unanimous in requesting a delay in our 2nd verification until such time as it could be deemed safe for us to work in Ottawa. This request was denied with the reason being that we could not be sure of any time in the near or distant future when the new protocols would or could be changed.
The National Board of Trustees once again met remotely on November 16, 2020, to discuss whether we would proceed with a virtual verification. The options that we had were to postpone the verification until the following year and do a 2-year verification, to postpone until later in 2021 with the hopes that the pandemic would relent, to have 2 or 3 Trustees attend to National Office with the remainder working remotely, or to proceed with a virtual verification. The National Board of Trustees feels that none of the other options besides working remotely were seriously considered. It was agreed that we would proceed, but that this statement would accompany our report.
As a result of the decision to proceed, one elected Trustee felt that they could not do a proper verification remotely, and thus withdrew from the National Board of Trustees for the 2nd verification. While they were missed, this Board does respect their decision.
One of the conditions of proceeding was for the National Board of Trustees to be given three extra days to complete their verification. This was indeed needed as we were seven Trustees instead of eight, with one of us being an alternate and needing to be shown how to perform a verification. The National Executive Board granted this request.
The National Board of Trustees have concluded their report, but would like to point out that we feel that there was something missing in doing so remotely. The opportunity to dig deeper into individual expense files was lost, (there is only so much information you can continually request to be sent to you), and the ability to interact with the Specialists and Union Representatives at the National Office was sorely missed as we often glean information from more than just looking at documents.
Having said that, it must be noted that the National Board of Trustees was denied no request for information and the National Board of Trustees is confident that our report shows an accurate picture of the Union’s financial state and activity.
The National Board of Trustees does recognize that we have all had to adapt and learn new ways of doing things. We would like to point out that there were successes and failures all around, with one of the more serious failings being that of the National Executive Board and National Directors failing to instruct and ensure that all Locals continued to meet and hold regularly scheduled General Membership Meetings, as those meetings are the pillar of our democracy.
On a final note, it is important to note that the COVID- 19 pandemic has had one positive, and that is the reduction that we have seen in the spending of the Union. While in-person meetings are far more intimate and offer experiences and opportunities that just cannot be duplicated or attained via virtual meetings, virtual meetings are far more productive in terms of reduced costs and the ability for even more individuals to be able to take part in activities that were formerly only available to a certain number of members, such as educationals. Going forward, the National Board of Trustees can see virtual meetings used more frequently than before the pandemic, but would caution against the temptation to eliminate in-person gatherings on a large scale.
While the National Executive Board was more than happy to extol its improved financial situation due to these reduced costs, the National Board of Trustees will be watching over the coming years to ensure that this windfall is used wisely for the benefit of its members and that spending is kept in check.
The National Board of Trustees wishes all of the Officers and members of CUPW, as well as support staff, and their families, a safe 2021.