An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared in the June 2020 newsletter, Re:Union.
This is the complete version of that article.
To read or download a copy of the June issue of Re:Union, please click here.
Department of Corrections Update
Following feedback from Department of Corrections members as well as the Statewide SCI Committee concerning the Department’s plans to restart large groups, President Catanese reached out to the Office of Administration last week. An excerpt of that letter follows:
We’re requesting a meet and discuss on the changing scope in plans as we go into the next phases of mitigation efforts against the Coronavirus. Unless there’s something out there that changes this plan or really contextually changes our view on this, we’d like Secretary Wetzel to be in attendance so we can get information from him on what his intentions are for the work our members are going to be doing as we move forward.
Regardless of the plan, such a meeting would be worthwhile and important for our members to have their voices heard and get feedback from the Secretary.
This pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon. We have had many members get sick and some have even lost their life; while corrections workers in other SEIU locals have lost their life on the job, we haven’t had a member lose their life in the PA DOC and I intend to keep it that way. You’re asking for a lot from the members as well — they’re not getting incentives like hazard pay and you’re still putting the work many of them do out for long-term bid. With all of that on our minds, at the bare minimum they should be provided with an exceedingly safe workplace environment for the difficult and often delicate work they’re asked to do.
As the Department of Corrections continues to downsize the inmate population, a functional and professional social service staff that is able to work with residents in overcoming obstacles is more vital now than it has ever been in the Department’s mission. Yet I’ve had to actually advise members that the work they do is important but not worth dying over, from either stress or illness, in recent days; I hope the Department is in agreement with this position and will work with us to ensure it doesn’t happen to the best of our collective abilities.
We will keep DOC members updated on the status of our outreach to the Department and statewide meetings through email and text. You can find the last DOC Committee update here https://bit.ly/3il8j78. To get the most relevant DOC information, make sure your contact information is up-to-date here: https://bit.ly/SEIU668contact.
Update for CAO Workers
The SEIU Local 668 CAO Rank & File and Supervisors Committees and Statewide Officers want to update members about the reopening process for CAO offices. First, telework will continue. Reopening the CAOs to clients and ending telework are two separate issues. The re-opening dates of July 6th and July 13th are tentative and subject to change. Offices must be ready with the supplies/resources needed to operate effectively before opening.
Teleworking will continue indefinitely, but some staff may need to return to their offices to service clients based upon operational needs. The number of staff in offices will vary based upon the needs of that particular office. Management will solicit volunteers first. If there are not enough volunteers, management will then use inverse seniority. Each local office must develop plans tailored to the needs of their specific offices. Local Labor-Management meetings should be held, along with Health and Safety Meetings before reopening occurs for feedback and oversight from the members in each office. Your input at the local level is incredibly important. If members have any questions or concerns, we ask you to contact your Steward.
Office of Employment Services Update
In preparation for the opening of BWPO offices, the OES Statewide Committee met with management to discuss proper health and safety guidelines. Before staff could return, each Workforce Development Area submitted a reopening plan to the Governor for approval. We must all work together to ensure safety as the offices begin to re-open. We are asking members to be diligent and send an email to your supervisor, ARD, Shop Steward, Business Agent, and Committee Chair. If you notice any of the following:
- Clients admitted without an appointment,
- Common areas not kept clean or regularly cleaned,
- The COVID Officer not doing their job, and/or
- CDC guidelines not being followed (you can find the CDC guidelines here).
Communication is critical as we transition back into the workplace.