December 01, 2021
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An Open Letter to Local 258 IBEW Members
Updated On: Oct 19, 2021

UPDATE posted to website October 19, 2021 - We continue to consult with your Union’s outside legal counsel as we seek answers to the many questions you have raised regarding the vaccine mandate at BC Hydro. We are expecting a copy of the employer’s detailed policy by this Thursday and are also seeking an extension to the November 22, 2021, deadline for double vaccination implementation.

Your Local 258 IBEW Shop Stewards and Union Representatives remain working extremely hard to address your concerns. We understand that emotions are running high and conversations, at times, have been very intense. Please be respectful with each other – bullying and harassment, is not tolerated.

Sent by Doug McKay, business Manager/Finacial Secretary to members with aa website account on Friday, October 15, 2021.

Together with my Assistant Business Managers we have been fielding numerous phone calls, emails and texts, with members expressing their opinions both for and against the vaccine mandate issued to all employees and contractors working with BC Hydro. We are hearing from members who have been vaccinated but want to provide support for their brothers and sisters who chose not to get vaccinated. In addition, our Shop Stewards are also fielding questions from their peers and have been instrumental in listening to and collecting information on the concerns of our membership.  

 We thank you for sharing your point of view and are happy to have conversation with those who want to speak with us.  

This morning I met with Premier John Horgan and it does not appear that the vaccine mandate issued at BC Hydro will be withdrawn.  

I want to share my disappointment with you on the lack of effective communication or consultation with your Union by the Crown Corporation in the roll out of this news. Since the pandemic began, we have observed a minimal number of cases of COVID-19 at BC Hydro and were anticipating the company would perhaps be announcing the availability of rapid-testing as an effective means of monitoring as well as being an alternative to mandatory vaccination.  We had expected meaningful and authentic communication with the company, however the lack of details and timely communication has created an unnecessary distraction for our members.

We will continue to support our members' access to vaccines, and their choice to be vaccinated or not. However, I am emphasizing that we have collective agreements in place that prohibit us from withdrawing our service. If you are struggling with the decision on getting vaccinated or not, withdrawing your service is not supported by the Union. Members who do withdraw their services will very likely receive discipline.

We are doing our best to provide answers to your questions, but until BC Hydro provides concrete information on consequences for various scenarios, we remain unable to provide concrete answers to those questions at this time.

There is a plethora of information on COVID 19 and the effectiveness of the vaccines.  Each of you will make a choice to either have the vaccine or not.  We are not here to change your mind, we are here to support you in the choices you make.  I have gone on record asking each of you who have not been vaccinated, to reconsider and have a conversation with your physician.  I did not advise members to get vaccinated, I asked that members make an informed decision.  

However, we also remain committed to ensuring that workplaces are free from harassment and unjustifiable discrimination. Any employer policy must be reasonable, non-discriminatory and not arbitrary in its implementation. Where employers issue policies related to mandatory vaccinations, we will be looking closely at them to ensure they comply with these principles. However, the place for any challenge to BC Hydro’s policy is through the grievance arbitration process, not withdrawal of services. Once the dust has settled, we will decide if a grievance is warranted.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email we will continue to closely monitor the situation and participate in all avenues for further discussion. I encourage you to continue to focus on working safely. 

In solidarity,

Doug McKay

Business Manager/Financial Secretary

Local 258 IBEW

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