April 2020

Tell the CAO we need PPE and Hazard Pay

Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer called our needs as front-line County employees “unreasonable,” at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, when we asked Supervisors for more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hazard pay and improved worker safety.

Send her an email now by following this link and tell her to negotiate to protect our safety and family security.

In CAO Robbins-Meyer’s April 17 email to us, she acknowledged, “The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the way we do business as a County, it’s had a great impact on County employees and their families.” What she did not mention in her email was how the County’s lack of adequate response to this pandemic has endangered employees and our families, including those who have already tested positive for COVID-19.

CAO Robbins-Meyer must do what is right. The County is proud of its $2 billion in reserves, which were built on years of underinvestment in staff and services. It’s time to spend these reserves during this time of unprecedented crisis.

Take these steps now:

  1. Send an email to CAO Robbins-Meyer by following this link
  2. When you get the next County Team Update, respond and tell her “workers need PPE and hazard pay” and we need her support during COVID-19 negotiations.
  3. Forward this to everyone you work with.

We need hazard pay, proper protective equipment, support for telecommuting options and paid leave that doesn’t drain our accruals. Instead of relying on pleas for charity, we should have the dignity of knowing that stepping up during this crisis and keeping our communities safe is being recognized by the County that we work for.

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Cal/OSHA worker protections

The California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 gives workers the right to file a complaint about workplace safety and health hazards. Employers are required to take steps to protect workers exposed to infectious disease like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). There are many valid reasons to file complaints, including lack of necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If you believe that your working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, please fill out this form so that SEIU Local 221 may file a complaint with Cal/OSHA on your behalf.

Follow this link to submit your complaint

Important Information for Healthcare and Detentions Employees:
The California Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) Standard requires that healthcare workers wear an N95 or other NIOSH approved respirator when caring for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. The ATD standard applies to healthcare workers and workers in some other work environments such as detention facilities. Please note whether you work in one of these environments and whether you have access to an N95 respirator.

Important Information for All Complainants:
The name of any person who submits a complaint to Cal/OSHA must be kept confidential by law, unless the person requests otherwise. Any personal identifying name or contact information given will not be provided to Cal/OSHA without your consent. A union representative may contact you if there is additional information needed to process your complaint.

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Cal/OSHA protections for workplace safety

The California Occupational Safety and Health Act gives workers the right to file a complaint about workplace safety and health hazards. Employers are required to take steps to protect workers exposed to infectious disease like the Coronavirus (COVID-19). If you believe that your working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, please fill out this form so that SEIU Local 221 may file your complaint with Cal/OSHA to continue advocating for safe working conditions.
The name of any person who submits a complaint to Cal/OSHA must be kept confidential by law, unless the person requests otherwise. Any personal identifying name or contact information given will not be provided to Cal/OSHA without your consent. Please note: a union representative may contact you if there is additional information needed to process your complaint.
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Front-line employees join nationwide day of action to protect all workers

We won’t back down from the fight to make employers #ProtectAllWorkers. No matter where you work or what your profession is, you have a right to be safe on the job. At the County of San Diego, that means speaking out for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Hazard Pay, and other safety standards.

At our recent “speak out” event, a diverse group of County employees gave testimony about the dangerous realities of working without adequate PPE.

Follow this link to watch SEIU member Lisa Garcia speak to ABC 10 about the risks County Social Workers, like many others, are facing in the field.

Unfortunately, County Executives have dismissed comprehensive health and safety proposals, telling the public that your needs as employees are not “reasonable.”

We didn’t want to have to make this fight public, but the public has a right to know that the County is failing to adequately invest in the COVID-19 response.

Follow this link to listen to radio news coverage on KOGO 600.

Be a part of keeping this momentum going. Now is the time to join fellow County employees by posting your picture holding a sign to social media.

Make sure to tag @SEIU221 and use these hashtags:

#GetMePPE
#ProtectAllWorkers
#HazardPayNow

#TheSystemIsBroken

Share this recently released report about the lack of adequate PPE for front-line County staff with your coworkers: “On the Front Lines without Armor.”

The failure of County executives to protect employees is unacceptable. As our union President David Garcias recently told the media, “We will not stop advocating until every single front-line worker has the resources and support they need.”

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Demand the County of San Diego protect all workers

Just days after your union released a report about how few front-line County staff have access to necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), County Executives sent a one-page letter dismissing our comprehensive health and safety demands. Despite claiming to bargain, the County has refused to address SEIU’s proposals on PPE and hazard pay, nor have they responded with any written proposals of their own.

That is why we are holding a virtual “speak out” at noon Wednesday, April 15

It’s time to send a strong message to the County Executives: We will not back down from protecting the health of front-line workers and the communities we serve. The County’s inaction is disturbing and it is putting even more lives at risk.

Register for this event by following this link.

Non-county SEIU members are also welcome to attend and show solidarity. Let’s make sure that the County hears our united voices on Wednesday. We are stronger together.

2004ProtectALLWorkers

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Two CEUs available: Learn how ATD standard protects us from COVID-19

SEIU is providing Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) an important opportunity to “Learn about How California’s Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) Standard Protects Us from the Novel COVID-19 Virus.”

Join us

Saturday April 18
Two times available:
10 to 12:30 p.m. OR 1:30 to 4 p.m.
RSVP to hughesk@seiunaca.org
Indicate which time slot, provide your personal cell and RN/LVN license number if applicable to receive a Zoom invite with class materials.

Two Continuing Education Units are available to all licensed nurses. The course is free, but registration is required to reserve your space.

This training provides the tools we need to enforce the ATD standard on the front-lines where it matters most. The ATD standard is now more important than ever given the results of the survey showing the County of San Diego is failing to follow the ATD standard.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the survey and the courageous nurses who are speaking out for the tools to do our work as safely and effectively as possible.

Front-line staff also turned in more than 900 petitions demanding that the County #ProtectAllWorkers at the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. If you haven’t signed the petition yet, follow this link to sign it now.

Finally, if you haven’t already, take this survey and tell your union whether you have the Personal Protective Equipment you need to do your job safely.

Classes and resources like these are a benefit of having a union job, and union membership allows us to provide them for free or at low cost. If you’re not a member, become a member today by following this link.

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Imperial County Superior Court agreement balances justice with protecting health

Court employees demanded Imperial County Superior Court balance justice with protecting the health and safety of courthouse employees, jurors, inmates and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Court signed an agreement to have rotating, minimum staffing in each department. Those not required at work will be on paid leave at home.

Follow this link to read the agreement.

This will limit the number of people and their potential exposure, but keep vital services available.

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Survey finds lack of PPE’s across County, members demand County #ProtectAllWorkers

SEIU Local 221 labor union members released a survey report April 6 highlighting a risk for front-line healthcare personnel and nurses.

Half of nurses reported not having N95 respirator masks or not having enough of them. SEIU Local 221 has been collecting data on the availability of PPE from health care workers and other front-line personnel from March 25 to April 4.

San Diego County employees are on the front lines of the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 throughout the community and to treat patients that are vulnerable or infected. County staff and the population they serve are at particular risk in County jails, Polinsky Children’s Center, Psychiatric Hospital of San Diego County and Edgemoor. To date, a number of county staff have been confirmed as positive and presumptive positive for COVID-19.

Read the entire report by following this link.

As part of the report, union members organized a video that included front-line nursing staff and their struggles to get Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“County management must address staff who are issued incorrect sizes of N95 respirators and address reusing N95 respirators,” said Amanda Dehart, a San Diego County Psychiatric Registered Nurse. “We are using ours for four shifts before getting replacements.”

Protecting San Diego County public health must emphasize the protection of front-line personnel.

“We are healthcare professionals who live our life in service to others,” said Sheriff’s Detention Nurse June Cuaresma. “All we ask is being provided tools we need to do our job as safely as possible.”

Also on April 6, SEIU Local 221 members, with 700,000 SEIU members across California, wrote a letter to Governor Newsom demanding immediate intervention to increase the supply of Personal Protective Equipment and to ensure it is distributed in a coordinated and equitable fashion that relies upon information from frontline workers. Read the letter by following this link.

In Solidarity,
SEIU Local 221

P.S. More coronavirus, COVID-19, resources

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Sign the Imperial County Superior Court petition

If the form does not load or is too small to read, follow this link for a full screen version https://act.seiu.org/onlineactions/HQjYSTAvk0Si4UY1cAs3Vw2

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COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Rights

Coronavirus is drastically changing all of our lives. SEIU 221 is fighting to ensure you and your families are protected during these times. Knowledge of your rights is key to protecting you and your loved ones from the effects of the coronavirus. Listed below is important information on your rights. If you have any questions or concerns please contact SEIU at (858) 560-0151.

Federal Law:

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

FFCRA creates two new paid leave programs:

  1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act – Entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave if full time. May take this benefit before using other benefits.
    1. To be eligible must meet one (1) of the following:
      1. Subject to quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
      2. Advised by health care provider to self-quarantine
  • Experiencing symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis

(100% pay, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total)

  1. Caring for someone subject to quarantine or with symptoms
  2. Experiencing “any other substantially similar conditions”

(2/3 pay, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total)

  1. Caring for children because school are closed due to COVID-19

(Up to 12 weeks paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 pay, up to $200 daily and $12,000 total)

  1. Emergency Family & Medical Leave Expansion Act – 2/3 regular rate up to $200 a day and $10k total. This leave can be combined with an employee’s leave balances. Allows you leave for 12 weeks if seriously injured, caring for family member seriously injured or if you must care for children because of a school closure.
    1. To be eligible must meet all of the following:
      1. Employed for last 30 days with employer
      2. Been on unpaid leave (or using sick/vacation leave) for first 10 days
  • Have regular FMLA leave still available

Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who lawfully takes paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA.

California Laws:

  1. Paid Family Leave Act gives up to 6 weeks (8 weeks effective July 1) to care for family members who are quarantined. Employees receive 60% to 70% of wages.
    1. To be eligible must meet all of the following:
      1. Unable to work due to quarantined family member
      2. Pay into state disability fund
  • May be required to provide medical certification of quarantine
  1. State Disability Insurance gives up to 52 weeks of 60% to 70% of wages.
    1. To be eligible must meet the following:
      1. Unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness (must have been off for 8 days)
      2. Certified by medical professional
    2. Workers’ Compensation
    3. If you believe you have contracted the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from work, and have the following symptoms, seek medical care:
  • Fevers over 100.4 °F
  • Coughing and Sneezing
  • Difficulty Breathing
  1. As with any work injury or illness, you must immediately report to your supervisor that you believe you have been exposed to the Coronavirus. Request to file a workers’ compensation claim; report that you will be requesting a test to confirm presence of the virus; and if symptoms listed above become present, leaving work to reduce the threat of exposure to others.
  2. Employees may choose to take paid sick leave for preventative care, such as “where there has been exposure to COVID-19 or where the worker has traveled to a high-risk area.”
  3. Employers who require an employee to stay home, due to Coronavirus, may be eligible for Unemployment, State Disability, and even Temporary Disability through workers compensation, should the employee lose more than 30 days of work.
  4. Remember that Family Medical Leave can be used as well to care for a family member that is sick or for yourself, provided that has not been exhausted.
  5. Stay in communication with you Work, your Union, and your Union Attorney’s during this time. You are essential to your employer but more importantly YOU ARE ESSENTIAL TO US. YOUR SACRIFICE DURING THIS TIME WON’T BE FORGOTTEN.

For additional information, or should you have questions, please contact Union Attorneys Hiden, Rott & Oertle, LLP., at (619) 296-5884.

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