We wanted to start this update by sharing a video from our Union Negotiations Committee that expresses our deep gratitude for the work you are doing under increased stress in these unprecedented times to keep our communities, families, and co-workers safe.
NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE - JULY 9, 2020
Our Union Negotiations Committee met with the State on Wednesday, July 1, to continue to discuss impacts related to changes that are occurring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are prioritizing COVID-19 issues because they are imperative to your safety and working conditions inside the facilities. Our discussions emphasized the availability of PPE in all facilities across the state, N95 mask fit testing, and COVID-19 testing of staff.
We also passed a proposal about overtime-exempt employees who have maxed out exchange time yet are continuing to work without additional compensation or the ability to take time off.
Since the State was furloughed on Thursday, July 2, we could not meet as planned. However, to make up for the time spent discussing issues related to COVID and cancellations due to the furlough, we added two additional bargaining dates on July 14 and 21.
We are also giving special attention to the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of our members dealing with cases of COVID-19 at their facilities, especially at Monroe Correctional Complex, Airway Heights Corrections Center, and Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. Coyote Ridge has been hit the hardest, but staff have worked extremely hard to isolate and contain the outbreak with urgency, skill, and professionalism.
COYOTE RIDGE ON THE FRONT LINES
Special teams from prisons across the state have been assembled to assist at Coyote Ridge. Together with the officers already assigned to that facility, the special teams are working hard to stop the outbreak and attend to all incarcerated individuals' needs. These teams have worked 30 consecutive days with no days-off, followed by a 14-day quarantine period away from their families.
Despite the profound impact on every member, health and safety are the absolute priority. All staff and offenders have been tested, and protective equipment is available throughout the facility, including an abundance of masks and gloves as well as access to hand sanitizer stations and soap. To ensure no staff feels pressured to work while sick, our union has secured access to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave and paid time off related to the screening process.
Here are statements from Teamsters at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center:
"We are working overtime with little to no sleep. We are volunteering to do so to avoid it becoming mandatory and because we want to make sure this infection is contained." -Officer Wayne Phillips
"I am proud to see we are maintaining peace in the units despite the difficult circumstances. I am happy to see offenders being cordial, understanding the need to maintain social distancing. We need a unified effort to maintain everyone's health and safety." - Sergeant Scott Williams
"We are leaning in to do the work necessary to stop the spread of the virus and are doing so without complaint."- Officer Daniel Abercrombie
If you have questions, please speak with a member on our Union Negotiations Committee. The next negotiation sessions are scheduled to begin on July 14. We will send you an update after those sessions.
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