April 4, 2020: A Message from Secretary-Treasurer Cales on COVID-19
Brothers & Sisters,
I know it has been tough out there for everyone. I know many members are concerned for their safety at work and what the next day – or next hour – will bring during this pandemic. As the number of confirmed cases grows overall, we are seeing that some of our brothers and sisters have become infected. I cannot stress enough the seriousness of this virus.
If you think you may have been exposed, if you are developing symptoms, or if you are someone who is considered high-risk or caring for someone who is high-risk, consult with your physician and follow their recommendation. If they tell you to self-quarantine, do so! Keep your employer informed, and contact the Union as well so we can assist you. If you feel the need to take a leave of absence due to unsafe conditions, request one from your employer, and let us know if you need any help in doing so.
We have put every operational employer on notice that they must maintain strict compliance with CDC and WHO guidelines in providing you with a safe and healthy work environment. This includes distributing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), maintaining cleanliness and sanitation of workplaces and washroom facilities, and allowing you time to practice the recommended healthy procedures. Your Local 710 Officers and Agents are not sheltering in place – we are physically visiting every single 710 workplace to make sure this is happening.
I have reminded your employers that Section 502 of the Labor Management Relations Act protects workers who refrain from working “in good faith because of abnormally dangerous conditions at work.” Your work is important to keeping our country moving forward – you truly are essential. Without our members in the supply chain, our country stops, period. You should work smart, heed the CDC guidelines for safe work practices, use PPE – and call us if your employer is cutting corners in ways that make you feel under-protected.
As I said to your employers, this is not business as usual. Short-term efficiencies or profit should NEVER come before your right to a safe work environment, and they should not test our resolve to protect you, our members.
No matter how bad it gets, we are determined to support you and your families. We are fighting to protect all of our members, whether you are working on the frontlines or off work. We are pushing to protect your healthcare benefits if you are laid off and will assist you in finding work at other union shops. We are securing additional protections and benefits. We are not sitting idle. It is imperative that we stand together and continue to support one another. The ways that people are rising to the challenges set in front of us to help out however they can is inspiring, and a shining light in these dark times. We will get through this, together. Thank you for everything that you are doing, and stay safe out there.