Hello to all our UW staff, and Happy Friday - it's pay day!  I am still very grateful that our employer has largely been able to keep us all employed and paid while so many others are needing to navigate the supports being made available from our federal and provincial governments.  I also understand that the scheduled pay increases set for May 1st are in progress and will be happening.

As you saw from the announcement this week from our President, Dr. Hamdullahpur, we are still contemplating an online course offering for the Fall.  The UWSA and the Faculty Association are working together with the University administration to better understand how that will be implemented.  We are looking for your input on any ideas or concerns you may have.  Please send them to me at uwsapres@uwaterloo.ca and I will bring your ideas to our discussions.

I know that many of you are struggling with the challenges of child care, family duties and ageing parents while working from home.  All three employee groups (UWSA, FAUW, CUPE) have been raising these concerns and it has been a topic of active discussion.  For now, our best advice is to work with your supervisor to work out reasonable accomodations for your individual situation.  We understand that supervisors have been very understanding in these times.

One of the issues we are also working on is access to the University for when you do need to work on-site.  We agreed on a procedure that would allow more distributed handling of on-site requests - letting unit heads make those decisions, rather than putting demands on our police officers.  We will also need to better understand procedures when we eventually ramp back up to working on campus.  We are also concerned about the health implications of those working on-site.

With regards to vacation carry-over, just a reminder that there is a form that should be submitted by May 1st (next Friday).  Try to take days that you can to get down to 10 but, if your work schedule will not allow that right now, work with your supervisor to document your situation.  Otherwise, do your best to take some days and give yourself a break from the demands of work.

Thank you to all UWSA volunteers as we near the end of National Volunteer Week, April 19 to 25. This organization does not run without its volunteers. UWSA has over 100 (I count 109) dedicated volunteers serving on the UWSA Board of Directors, as well as 38 UW and UWSA committees. UWSA has traditionally recognized its volunteer annually at an Appreciation Luncheon in June.  This year, we may have to find another time or way of getting together and expressing our gratitude.

Many UWSA committees are meeting virtually during Covid-time and continuing to do the work for members. Bravo to them and thanks to IST for keeping Teams accessible and up to date for these vital meetings.

We have been reaching out to our colleagues at other U15 universities across Canada to connect with them and finds ways to communicate what is happening at their institutions and look for topics of common interest and concern.

On a more personal note, I understand how difficult in can be if you have a family member in the hospital or long-term care facility.  My mother ended up in the hospital last week (not-Covid related) and it is very challenging when you can't visit and even calling can be difficult as the staff are very busy.  I do have to say, though, that the staff at Guelph General Hospital have been excellent and very caring!  

I hope you are all safe and well and have a well-deserved break this weekend. Looks like the weather is warming up!

Lawrence Folland, President