COVID-19 Emergency UPDATE
SEIU 721 Members to LA County Board of Supervisors:
Five Urgent Needs To Keep Employees Safe
Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and FMLA Emergency Leave
On March 30, the CEO announced in a letter to all County employees that the new emergency leave programs established by the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, EPSL and FMLA Emergency Leave, would be made available to employees on April 1. But the CEO subsequently informed County unions that for the vast majority of employees, access to the emergency leave would be at their Department’s discretion. To make matters worse, Departments have not even received guidance about how to implement the programs.
Many employees – with underlying health conditions or children at home due to school closures – find themselves in desperate circumstances, forced to make “Sophie’s Choices” between their own health and safety, the safety of their children, and the need for continued income for their families. But, so far, not a single County employee has been able to utilize the new leave programs that went into effect on April 1.
Ensure that employees have access to these desperately-needed leave programs as soon as possible.
Personal Protective Equipment
SEIU 721 members understand that we are providers of essential services during the COVID-19 emergency, but we legitimately expect to be protected with appropriate equipment while we do our jobs. So far, the County has failed to do its part.
Provide N-95 respirators to frontline health and correctional health workers, as well as masks for workers who, in the course of their jobs, continue to come into close proximity to co-workers and other County residents.
Protocols for Confirmed Infections at County Worksites
The County’s response to confirmed incidents of coronavirus infection at County worksites has been inconsistent, and, in some cases inadequate, with the potential for dire consequences. Piecemeal disinfection, partial quarantines, and a lack of transparency have left employees insecure and fearful.
Ensure that all Departments follow appropriate protocols: Notify impacted employees when infections have been detected. Send home immediately to self-isolate those employees who have been potentially exposed. Disinfect and shut down contamination areas long enough to ensure safety. And share Department of Public Health protocols with all employees.
In County health and correctional facilities, a growing number of workers have been infected with the coronavirus. Without adequate testing, workers will become spreaders of COVID-19. Meanwhile, it is expected that incidents of infections at other County worksites will occur with greater frequency. Testing staff for COVID-19 in buildings where the presence of the coronavirus has been detected would reassure employees and prevent further spread of the virus.
Accelerate efforts to increase testing capacity at all health and correctional health facilities; and develop a plan for the testing of other County employees at worksites where the presence of coronavirus has been detected.
Because we deliver essential services, many SEIU 721 members have been denied opportunities to telework, and may be denied access to Emergency Paid Sick Leave and FMLA Emergency Leave as well. It is no substitute for our health and safety, and the safety and well-being of our families, but the least the County could do would be to offer some type of compensation to those who continue to sacrifice but are not allowed to utilize these benefits.
Compensate fairly employees on the frontlines of essential service delivery.