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News


03/21/2020
 
Posted By: Council 93

Dear AFSCME Members:

As you and your AFSCME Brothers and Sisters continue to work during these unprecedented times, I want to take moment to thank you for all that you are doing to help our states and communities move through this public health crisis.

As governmental leaders and healthcare experts encourage people to limit contact with others and practice "social distancing," I know that most AFSCME members do not have that luxury. While most people are taking steps to limit contact with others, the vital job duties of AFSCME members require that they do just the opposite. Here are just a few of many examples:

  • Our direct-care workers are providing around-the-clock care to the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. These workers are also dealing with the added emotional stress experienced by patients due to the need to suspend visitation from friends and family members.
  • Our members at the Boston Medical Center (BMC) are working as close as anyone can get to the front line of this fight. BMC welcomes and treats all those in need and for many years now, has operated the busiest trauma and emergency services center in New England. As this crisis intensifies, so will the public's reliance on all of the dedicated workers at BMC.
  • Our municipal public health nurses are preparing to staff drive through testing sites for area hospitals.
  • Our corrections officers are guarding inmates in state and county correctional facilities while dealing with the very real threat of exposure to the virus in the close confines of these often overcrowded facilities.
  • Our public works professionals in cities and towns across New England remain on the job, helping to ensure our highways, roads and bridges are safe for passage and vital public infrastructure such as water and sewer systems, solid waste removal, and much more remain fully operational.
  • Our EMTs and 911 dispatchers continue to serve as first responders for any and all emergencies in their communities.
  • In our public school districts, custodians are working day and night to sanitize and disinfect our schools during suspension of classes; support staff are preparing for new roles as districts move to online education; and school nurses have shifted to manning public-health hotlines and other important duties. Since so many kids rely on school districts for nutritious meals, our school cafeteria workers are working with our para-professionals to package and distribute meals for kids so they can continue to have healthy meal choices while schools remain closed.
I could list dozens of additional examples but suffice to say that while most people are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families, AFSCME members throughout New England are putting themselves and their family members in harm's way – simply by doing their jobs.

As AFSCME members, you are used to being the unsung heroes of public-sector services. So it goes without saying that most members of the public may never fully realize the true level of your contributions and sacrifices during these difficult times. But I want you to know that I, and the entire team at Council 93, know how important you are to helping us all get through this crisis. And, I want you to know how much we respect and admire your courage and dedication.

I also want you to know that we are doing everything we can to address your concerns and ensure you get the answers and support you need from your employers. The entire Council 93 team continues to work hard and I'm happy to report that for the most part, state, county and municipal managers have been cooperative with us.

We are currently working to secure clear directives from management on issues such as sick leave policies; leave for unanticipated childcare issues resulting from school closures; policies on allowing some workers to do their jobs from home; defining and redefining essential and non-essential employees; and more. We are also in the process of negotiating/impact bargaining requests from management to make changes in shifts and start times, and working to ensure our members have what they need to minimize risk as they continue to faithfully fulfill their duties. Meanwhile, we continue to meet the more ordinary, daily needs of our members including grievances and arbitrations.

While most the of issues related to this crisis are shared by all of our members regardless of where they work, I realize that a number of unique situations exist and will continue to arise in the days and weeks ahead. With that in mind, I want to encourage all of you to bring any questions or concerns to us immediately.

Members in Massachusetts are encouraged to address any questions or concerns by email to Ed Nastari, Field Services Director for Massachusetts.

Our Members in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont can email their questions and concerns to Steve Lyons, who serves as the Field Services Director for those states.

If you have a suggestion or idea on how things can be done better, safer or more efficiently in your workplace, please share that information with us as well. We know better than anyone that the best ideas - particularly in times of crisis - come from people like you who serve on the front lines.

Thank you for all you are doing and will continue to do in the weeks and months ahead. We stand ready - any time day or night - to assist you with whatever you may need.

In Solidarity,

Mark Bernard
Executive Director
AFSCME Council 93

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AFSCME Council 93

AFSCME Council 93 represents more than 45,000 state, county and municipal employees in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

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