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Our union has strong language about your protection in the workplace. What does this mean during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We are doing all we can to make sure that the State keeps you safe during this time. Your safety is guaranteed in ASEA-SOA contract (Articles 28 and 29) and is important for several reasons. First, your health and safety is our number one priority and should be the priority of your employer. Second, if all SOA staff fall ill due to poor practices and unsafe conditions, Alaska will suffer as essential services will be compromised. Third, your safety and protection in the workplace protects the public that you serve. In order to keep you and all Alaskans safe, ASEA is seeking assurances from the state that employees will be allowed to practice health mandates and CDC guidelines including the following:

      • Approval of all telework requests for telework eligible employees
      • Prioritizing telecommuting and teleconferencing to reduce the interaction of employees
      • Modifying workspaces to allow employees that cannot telework or telecommute to practice the recommended and mandated physical distancing of six feet
      • Provide employees with access to appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) including hand sanitizer (with 60% or more alcohol), soap and running water, and other appropriate cleaning agents for sanitizing workspaces
      • Closing public lobbies and limiting access from the public to reduce the amount of people interacting with employees
      • Prioritizing public interfacing from computers, phones, and other technological devices to reduce the interaction with people to slow the rate of transmission of the virus

Look for our workplace health and safety survey to share your working conditions and other issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

What’s the latest SOA policy regarding paid Administrative Leave? Who qualifies and how do I apply?

SOA has the following resources and forms relating to Administrative Leave:

Qualified persons include employees that are unable to telework and one of the following:

      • Have tested positive for COVID-19 and are required to self-quarantine for 14 days or until symptoms subside (whichever is longer)
      • Have traveled outside of Alaska and are required to self-quarantine for fourteen days (see item B under SOA Leave Policy (PDF)
      • Have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
      • Are displaying COVID-19 symptoms

—If you’re feeling sick: 

Important: if you require immediate medical assistance for a medical emergency (e.g., difficulty breathing or choking, symptoms of heart attack or stroke, feel confused, disoriented, or dizzy, are feeling sudden and severe pain, are having difficulty speaking, walking, or seeing, are suffering a serious allergic reaction) contact 9-1-1.

If you require non-emergency assistance related to COVID-19 (e.g., want more information about COVID-19, need a ride to your doctor’s office, want to see if you qualify for testing, have mild symptoms*, require other community assistance) contact 2-1-1.

*Call your medical provider for mild symptoms related to COVID-19 including cough, fever, shortness of breath, sudden loss of taste and smell, and other respiratory problems.

      • Per SOA policy “employees with COVID-19 symptoms (fever of >100.3°F, cough or shortness of breath) will be deemed unfit for duty in the workplace and required to leave the workplace.” Employees may qualify for paid administrative leave if you are unable to telework (see above)
      • If you are well enough to work, you can request to telecommute (if you aren’t already). See SOA Telecommuting Policy (PDF)
      • Before returning to work: SOA Policy states employees will need to work with their supervisors

—If you are unable to work due to childcare needs:

The Families First Act passed by Congress identifies that employees that need to provide childcare due to school and/or daycare closures are eligible for Administrative Leave. These relief packages are not immediate and may take some time before the State is able to catch up. Contact your Business Agent or Steward if you are having difficulty receiving that support from your supervisors or managers.

 

What happens if my supervisor denies my request or says that the policy doesn’t apply to me?

We have heard reports from across the state that some managers are using their own discretion and denying leave requests from workers who are eligible. While our union is fighting hard to stop the State from these dangerous denials, inform your union representative (business agent) immediately if your leave requests have been denied.

 

What is SOA’s Telework Policy and who is eligible to telework?

Important documents:

The SOA policy on telework right now is that all telework approval has to be approved by management. If you think you are telework eligible, and have sought telework approval but have been denied, please notify your business agent immediately.

 

What if I don’t have adequate training or Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)? Can I refuse an assignment if I believe the assignment will put my health at risk?

ASEA has been trying to work with the State to make sure all essential employees have the training and appropriate PPE they need to keep themselves, and Alaskans, safe. If you feel PPE and/or additional training is required for your position to protect you, your co-workers, and the Alaskans you serve against the spread of the novel coronavirus, but are being denied, you need to alert ASEA via your steward and/or business agent immediately.

Per our CBA, you are entitled to safe working conditions (see Articles 28 and 29). If you believe that an assignment you have been given is abnormally hazardous, because of the novel coronavirus, you have the right to refuse. See the following relevant articles:

ARTICLE 28 - Equipment and Clothing 

A. The Employer shall not require bargaining unit members to furnish their own tools or work implements in order to perform state work. 

ARTICLE 29 - Safety and Health 

29.01 Safety Equipment. It shall not be a violation of this Agreement nor grounds for discipline or dismissal if a bargaining unit member refuses to work on an unsafe job, provided the job is found to be unsafe by the Alaska Department of Labor. Any safety equipment required by the Division of Labor Standards and Safety regulations to make a job safe shall be supplied by the Employer. The Employer shall abide by the Division of Labor Standards and Safety regulations. Disciplinary action shall not be taken under this Section until the Department of Labor has made a finding on safety. If the Department of Labor finds the job to be safe and subsequent disciplinary action is taken, the bargaining unit member shall have recourse to the applicable complaint or grievance-arbitration procedure.

Actions available to employees that feel unsafe in their workplace:

      • Notify your Shop Steward or Business Agent immediately for advice and possible remedies
      • You may be able to refuse a work assignment if you believe it is abnormally hazardous and have not been provided the necessary protective equipment or training
      • Gather evidence of unsafe conditions if possible

Additional Resources:

 

Can my supervisor cut my hours or send me home because there’s no work?

Article 22.01 guarantees full time employees a full work week of 37.5 hours. Employees are protected against being furloughed by our contract. If your supervisor is sending you home because there is not work available due to the novel coronavirus, you are eligible for paid administrative leave. You are not required to take personal leave and should notify your shop steward and business agent right away if your supervisor is asking you to use personal leave.

 

What if I think I may have been exposed at work?

    1. Contact occupational health clinic or your primary care physician
    2. Report to your manager immediately
    3. You may be eligible to take paid Administrative Leave—contact your steward or business agent with additional questions about available member benefits including telehealth

 

What if I have no hours in my personal/sick leave bank?

Members can request donated leave if they are sick. You may qualify for COVID-19 leave if it is COVID-19-related. You may also qualify for emergency leave if it is a family medical leave act emergency medical situation.  

 

When can I use leave from the Emergency Leave Bank?

Only members of the emergency leave bank are eligible to use it under qualifying conditions. Medical emergencies under the family medical leave act may qualify but because each situation is different, qualifications for use are determined on a case by case basis.

If you are not already a member of the Emergency Leave Bank - you can find out more and sign up by visiting this link:

https://www.afscmelocal52.org/news/343-emergency-leave-bank-special-april-enrollment

 

Additional Resources

Contact your Business Agent or Shop Steward immediately if you have any additional questions or if you believe your rights have been violated.

Find your ASEA Steward: https://www.afscmelocal52.org/benefits-services/find-a-steward

Find your ASEA Business Agent: https://www.afscmelocal52.org/business-agents

Email your union: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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