In a powerful display of unity at the March 24 Board of Supervisors meeting, front-line County workers presented hundreds of petition signatures calling on the Board to #ProtectAllWorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you haven’t signed the petition yet, follow this link to add your name today.
The petition, which was signed by more than 500 workers in a week, demands that the County provide safer workplaces, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for front-line staff. It calls for more telecommuting opportunities, as well as fully paid leave for those who must take time off due to their personal health or family care needs.
“We have to speak out now because keeping workers safe is the only way we can keep patients safe,” Public Health Nurse Augustin Rucobo told the Board in an urgent appeal for additional PPE. “We needs safety tools to keep fighting this pandemic.”
Tuesday’s meeting was the first time ever the Board of Supervisors has met by teleconference rather than in person. In addition to Rucobo, two other County employees and SEIU Local 221 President David Garcias spoke remotely about the need for the County of San Diego to protect all workers.
“I urge you to find ways for more people to telework,” said Alicia Shirley, a supervisor in the Probation Department. She called on the County to provide laptops and other necessary support for remote work, noting that when employees are required to report to County offices “these dedicated workers risk infecting themselves, family, community members and coworkers.”
Librarian Leslie Masland provided testimony about a coworker who recently returned from maternity leave with no sick time left in her bank. Masland’s comments, which highlighted the importance of providing paid time off without wiping out employees’ balances, were read into the record.
The County Administrative Officer acknowledged the local and national severity of the safety equipment crisis and made commitments to provide flexible teleworking options in response to proposals made by our union in our petition and at the bargaining table.
With the support of our union and the Invest in San Diego Families coalition, the Board also took a first step to minimize the economic impact of this crisis on our workforce by approving up to 120 hours of Advanced Sick Leave during the Pandemic and approved a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to protect San Diegans.
Our next step is to push the County to provide protective equipment as soon as possible and to lock in the teleworking commitments by putting them in writing in our upcoming bargaining sessions. We will provide more updates as they become available.