December 18, 2020
All MTC Council Presidents
All MTD Key Representatives
James Hart, President Metal Trades Department
Re- affirmation of current Metal Trades Department Guidance on COVID -19 in the Workplace
Dear Council President,
With the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the United States and Canada, the threat of infection remains real and is more potent than ever!
It is the responsibility of each Metal Trades Council President, officer and steward to ensure that management is keeping the workplace and Metal Trades bargaining unit members safe. Council leaders are urged to approach management and re-affirm that the following steps are continuing to be taken and shall remain in place throughout the course of the pandemic:
- Has your Employer issued a pandemic plan or Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)?
- If so, does it adequately address the Union’s concerns on workplace flexibilities (telework arrangements, travel for work-related matters, etc.)? Request a copy for review if not already provided to the council and local affiliates. If a plan has not been issued, refer to the guidance below. Additionally, please share any guidance received from your employer with the department through your MTD General Representative.
- If your employer has not issued a pandemic plan/COOP, or is not continuing or following through with its originally bargained plan, request a briefing with management on the coronavirus issue.
- Identify that the council is seeking renewed information on the employer’s plan regarding the current coronavirus outbreak. The department recommends that the council request a briefing to discuss the following issues.
- Reaffirm issues/concerns and practices that should be addressed during the briefing (if applicable):
- What options do employees have if they are concerned about coming to work/using mass transit to travel to work?
- How does the employer plan to address employees who come to work and show symptoms of respiratory illness?
- What steps is the employer taking to protect employees who deal directly with the public on a regular basis?
- What is the employer’s plan for dealing with work-related travel, especially to places that have multiple confirmed coronavirus cases?
- What is the employer’s plan for dealing with work functions involving interactions with large groups of people?
- What is the employer’s plan to address workers childcare needs or responsibility for family members with underlying medical conditions that are exacerbated by COVID-19?
- Suggested outcomes/workplace flexibilities to propose to the Employer:
- Provide all employees the option to telework. The Federal Government (OPM) guidance strongly encourages Agencies to sign situational telework agreements with all telework eligible employees currently without a signed telework agreement. OPM is also urging Agencies to reassess their factors for determining telework eligibility to determine whether more employees may be classified as telework eligible. The same should be true in the private sector.
- Keep in-person meetings to a minimum and if feasible, replace with conference calls or video teleconferencing (VTC). Incorporating “social distancing” will ensure that the employer will be able to continue to function efficiently and effectively.
- Either create and maintain safe conditions or continue to suspend attendance at all large gatherings, like conferences, conventions and any other work related activities. Again, this incorporates the practice of “social distancing.”
- Temporarily suspend all work-related travel.
- If travel is required, allow employees to travel using an employer owned vehicle or privately-owned vehicle if feasible. This option will avoid public exposure on airplanes/trains.
- Provide paid leave to employees who have been exposed to or are showing symptoms of respiratory illness and are unable to telework. This is a preventative measure to avoid contact and the spread of illness to other employees.
- Ensure that common work areas and equipment are being sanitized daily and deep cleaned at least on a daily basis. This includes conference rooms, printer/copier areas, break rooms and council officers’ quarters.
- Ensure protective gear and hygiene supplies are provided and easily accessible to all employees. Protective gear includes face masks and gloves for employees who regularly deal with the public. Hygiene supplies can include hand sanitizer and soap.
- Stagger start/stop times and work days for employees. Limit carpooling to 2 workers, (socially distanced, wearing masks per vehicle) as a requirement for entering or parking on the employer’s property.
If your employer is being unreasonable or is refusing to meet with you to discuss its plan, contact your MTD General Representative about possible congressional, media, or legal actions.
WEAR A MASK! The life you save may your own or that of a valued friend and loved one!!!
Thank you for your continued support in addressing and reaffirming our union’s commitment to excellence in this most important worker safety issue!