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Help Us Stand Up for the Health and Safety of EBMUD Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic [COVID19 Update #3]

Many people in our membership and the greater community feel that EBMUD has been too slow to take action to protect its employees, and in-turn, the greater community. EBMUD provides essential services, and right now, employees are being asked to take risks that may impact the ability to continue providing these essential services.

The Local Unions have been meeting with Management and provided a letter last week hoping to resolve our issues. HR responded late last week, and we think the response is totally inadequate – and find the last paragraph especially insulting.

We are prepared to act as disaster workers when called upon to help mitigate a disaster, but right now we’re being asked to help perpetuate one. For an agency that prides itself on its response in times of need, this is unacceptable. It renders obsolete our so-called “values”.

Although some are able to telecommute during this new, unfamiliar and trying time of COVID-19, there is more to consider regarding being safe, staying healthy and still being prepared to fulfill our job duties during emergencies. AFSCME L2019; AFSCME L444; IFPTE L21; & IUOE SE L39 have collaboratively met and worked together on a letter that has been sent to the Board of Directors in response to the hoop jumping that many of our members have had to go through to telecommute, the lack of accessible hygiene resources for those who work in the field, and the exposure to those who choose to disregard instruction to stay home when sick, among other valid concerns raised by our co-workers.

 

But we need the membership body to take action with us.

Here are a few ways that you can take action and have you voice heard directly by the EBMUD Board of Directors tomorrow, Tuesday 3/24 at the Board Meeting

 

  • Send emails or Tweet @ the Board of Directors sharing your concerns. This can be done NOW so that they are aware of our concern ahead of the meetings.
  • Call and speak during the Public Comment portion of the meeting
  • You can call during the Closed Session Public Comment at 11am, or during the Open Session Public Comment at 1:15pm.
  • Dial 855-369-0450; enter participant pin 49-281-364 # when prompted
  • Depending on the number of speakers, each speaker might have up to 3 minutes.
  • This doesn’t have to only be our Unions . We can encourage our advocates in our families and communities to speak on our behalf also, as concerned customers! When we are safe and healthy we can be available to work and slow the spread of the virus.

 

Some potential talking points include the following, so you can speak on one of these issues if you would like. But please, bring your own concerns, too!

 

  • The EBMUD Board should immediately vote to approve use of Paid Administrative Leave for employees doing non-critical work who cannot telecommute, in accordance with the shelter-in-place Order.
  • The District’s response to the multi-Union letter last week mentions tightening of the belt and the potential need to contract-out the future backlog. It is absolutely absurd that they are bringing this up now. The District needs to act RIGHT NOW in a manner which preserves its workforce and keeps the community safe, and they have not been doing so. We can worry about the cleanup after we get through the disaster. Right now, we need to focus on minimizing the impacts of the disaster.
  • The initial response letter from HR says that the “Critical staff and classification lists are being developed”. The shelter-in-place was announced over a week ago, and they are still “developing” the list and haven’t even shared a draft with the Unions to provide feedback. Regardless, this is something that should have already existed!
  • Many employees who are able to telecommute are being told they need to report to the office at least 1 day per week or more, with no essential business need requiring them to do so. No one is asking to never have to come in, but there should be a specific, essential need that requires them to risk contact with other employees and the community.
  • Every day they drag this out without sending non-critical staff home with pay, and without allowing the full ability of staff who can telecommute to do so, is putting the employee and their colleagues at risk, and also putting the District at risk of an outbreak that hobbles its workforce and its ability to continue to offer its essential services. The District seems to be prioritizing productivity over “Safety First”, jeopardizing the health of staff and the community at large.
  • We know a lot of our membership who are in an at-risk category have had an especially tough time. Please speak up to the Board about your unique challenges!

 

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