CUPE 391’s Email Policy – Ratified by General Membership 1997

Email usage has a been topic of discussion since early 2007.  Management began to question why CUPE 391 should be allowed to continue using the VPL email system.  After the strike, a member of the Library Board later put forward a motion that CUPE 391 should no longer be given access to email addresses on the VPL email system.  The Union has been in regular discussions with Management as to what kind of access the Union might still maintain to the VPL email system and when we might have our own fully functioning email system.  Management has continued to allow us access while these issues are being resolved.

Background on CUPE 391 email usage

Brian Campbell, former Director of Systems, brought the recommendation forward to the Board in 1997 that CUPE 391 have an all-staff email address.  The original tool for managing email addresses was PINE (Program for Internet News and Email), a text-based platform.  CUPE 391 developed an email policy to support a respectful workplace and facilitate our ability to have a communications tool to access and deliver information to our members.  Here is CUPE Local 391’s E-Mail Policy, written and ratified by the General Membership in 1997.

CUPE Local 391 E-Mail Policy

  • Members of CUPE Local 391 recognise that access to PINE email is at the full discretion of the employer.  Access to e-mail for Union purposes has been negotiated by the executive through the Union/Management process.  In using PINE e-mail members should be advised that comments contained within should not be considered confidential from the employer.
  • The Union takes the position that the all staff address be limited in its use to conduct normal union business such as notification of meetings or policy decisions undertaken by the Executive which directly affect all the members. Members needing to send mail using all staff addresses must send their mail to the CUPE 391 to be forwarded to the Executive user of that box.  Members choosing not to follow this process recognise that the Union cannot be responsible for their use of that address.
  • The Union takes the position that the “democratic principles of unionism to which this Union subscribes require that every member shall be entitled to express his/her opinions freely within the processes established by constitution and ByLaws” (CUPE Local 391 Constition, clause 4).  The Union further recogises that these processes, established by the Constition, are limited to meetings.

  • The Union takes the position that each e-mail, regardless of mailbox or address, adhere to the principles set out in the CUPE Local 391 Statement on Harassment.

Through the Union/Management process the Union has established certain e-mail addresses related to Union branches including the Executive address (cupe.e) and the all staff address (staff).  These addresses were sought in an effort to broaden members’ access to information from the Union office beyond telephone and internal mail.  Through this process the Union has established a cupe391 mailbox as well as mailboxes for other Union committees.  No similar requests for mailboxes for other committees of the Union will be unreasonably denied.

Ratified by the General Membership – July 21, 1997

Neither the Union or Management has posted their email policies online.  The Union had sent out copies of this policy for the Union bulletin boards years ago, but this information has not been maintained.  Union members need to be educated on the protocols surrounding e-mail usage so that we may maintain a respectful workplace and continue to exercise those democratic principles of unionism.  The Union, will, of course, protect all members who were not previously educated in these protocols.  We stand together on resolving union/management issues.

Several factors have changed over the years which have influenced e-mail usage:

  • Program for managing email addresses
  • VPL administration
  • Library Board
  • Administrative policy alignment with the City of Vancouver
  • Understanding of e-mail usage by members
  • Addition of Human Resources Director to all-staff e-mail address
  • Union members now ask permission through HR Director to use all-staff e-mail address rather than the Union
  • Administration’s determination that CUPE 391 should sponsor own communications system and no longer use VPL’s
  • Board motion for CUPE 391 to no longer have access to own all-staff address on e-mail system.

Union and Management meet regularly to discuss e-mail usage.  Management has extended our ability to use the VPL email system while we develop our own system.  In the meantime, please forward your messages that you wish to send to all-staff to the HR Director for approval and CC the Union.

In solidarity,