DOC Teamsters -
With COVID-19 spreading in Washington State, I wanted to make sure you are informed about steps we are taking at Teamsters 117 to assure that you, your co-workers, and your families' safety is a priority.
Over the last several days, I have been in frequent contact with the Department, both with Secretary Steve Sinclair and the Department of Corrections COVID-19 Incident Commander Danielle Armbruster. Through these conversations, I have relayed your concerns about how the Washington State Department of Corrections is managing the COVID-19 crisis.
I have urged the Agency to cease the visit program in its current form and reduce the number of volunteers allowed to enter the prison. The danger of introducing COVID-19 into a prison system that is already significantly understaffed and is responsible for the safety of incarcerated individuals, many of whom are suffering from significant medical complications, far outweighs any inconvenience that may be experienced.
Additionally, members have raised concerns about training requirements, such as defensive tactics, and the inability to practice safe social distancing as recommended by CDC guidelines. I have heard concerns about screening requirements, the need for appropriate and sufficient protective gear, and an overall concern about the “what ifs” as this situation unfolds. My commitment to you is to forcefully advocate for your health and safety as the Department works to manage this crisis.
The Department is requesting that all questions and concerns related to COVID-19 be directed to [email protected]. Please use this email to document and communicate any concerns you may have. As a public entity, having one repository for information can be beneficial to your Union.
To help protect yourself and your family, the CDC is recommending that you:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Close contact is considered within 6ft.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. WASH and/or sanitize your hands after.
In addition, the Washington State Employment Security Department has put together a list of benefits available to workers who are impacted by COVID-19 and an FAQ page for workers. If you have questions, please reach out to your Union Representative.
I know this is a worrisome time for all of us. At times like these, it is important that we remember to care for each other - our families, all of our Union Sisters and Brothers, and the members of our community.
Please stay healthy and safe.
President and Executive Director
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