First of all, I hope that everyone is being safe and careful during this COVID – 19 pandemic. For me these are unprecedented times as the President of SEIU Local 722. As you can imagine, I have been bombarded with a lot of questions and scenarios concerning the impact of COVID – 19 at the worksite and what the Hospitals can and cannot do. Also, I have been given a lot of ideas and suggestions on what the Union can do in these trying times and also what you would like your employer to consider to help alleviate some of the hardships caused by this pandemic.
We have been successful in some of our endeavors. The wearing of mask, Child Care issues, insufficient leave hours, have been concerns that you have brought to our attention and then brought to the hospital’s attention and have been addressed or discussed. As other issues arise we will try to address them with the hospitals, such as transportation. At the Washington Hospital Center, the management company of the Environmental Services Department has offered to pay for the use of Uber or Lyft for the workers to report to work. We can do our part too. We can do things like organizing carpools amongst each other to help co-workers get to work. If we do this, then we may be able to get the hospitals to reduce or waive parking fees or allow you to park at the facilities and not on offsite lots. This is the time that we really need to start working together.
Like you, we have been trying our best to keep up with the dynamics of COVID – 19. The problem with this virus is the protocols, diagnosis, precautionary procedures all seen to change every thirty (30) minutes. At first if you were exposed to someone that was positive for COVID -19, you were quarantined or isolated for approximately two (2) weeks. Now employers take the position that just because you were around a positive person it doesn’t mean that you contacted the virus. You are not tested until you start exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Even the CDC has changed its positions on COVID – 19.
There are many obstacles ahead of us. We are anticipating having to deal with furloughs, reassignments, and possible layoffs. We will be in discussions with Hospitals if this does become necessary. Our intent will be to lessen the impact on you, our members as much as possible.
These are trying times; neither I nor the Union has all the answers. We are in communication with our International Union, and other organizations to get ideas on best practices. You should take advantage of the Washington Hospital Center’s Star Port and Children’s National’s HUB, to keep up to date on their up to date practices and information.
Hopefully we will be over this in the very near future, if not; we will try our best to represent you to our fullest and to protect you to the maximum under our Collective Bargaining Agreements and the Law.