Brothers and Sisters,
As we close out yet another week in grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we would again like to thank our members and their families for continuing to selflessly serve our communities and make the sacrifices in order to provide care to those who need it. The Executive Board is proud to represent you and your families as you fight on the frontlines.
On the legislative side, your Union has been hard at work together with ALADS and LACOLA to ensure that our members receive the benefit time they need to take care of themselves and their families.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. When this legislation was first enacted, it did not apply to public safety personnel. Now through our hard work and collaboration with the CEO, we have reached an agreement where our members will now be included in the benefit.
The Act provides that employees are eligible for:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
The Union is currently in negotiations with the Department to develop a policy for administering this time, including front-loading the time from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 for members to use as needed. We will have more details on this as we solidify the arrangement and develop systems for processing with the Department. We will be helping the Department to make the conversions for 56-hour personnel and also a simple and easy to use policy and procedure for this time. Additionally, any individual who met the criteria from April 1 on we will move to get that time converted under this act and Board of Supervisors (BOS) order for public safety. We will continue to move the issue of time, workers' compensation coverage and antibody testing forward with the Governor and legislature as well.
We want to thank the BOS and the CEO Sachi Hamai for moving this item forward for all employees but specifically for including public safety in the order where we were exempt in the original language. We will continue to work with the County BOS, the CEO and the Chief as we deal with all of the issues affecting our members.
This is a huge win for our members and their families. As this pandemic progresses our members will need this additional time to deal with quarantine, self-isolate or tend to sick family members. Look for more details on this as we roll this out in the next few weeks.
Taking Care of Our Fire Family
As a reminder, in order to keep our members and their families informed we have created a COVID-19 Family Resource Guide. This guide was mailed to homes last week and contains important information such as symptoms, cleaning practices, behavioral health guidelines, making a plan for your family in the event of quarantine, and more. Click below to download a copy.
PPE AND SAFETY AT WORK
Please continue to make sure your crews have the proper PPE with gowns, masks, and goggles as well as cleaning supplies and follow the mandates and guides for dealing with COVID-19 suspected patients and in general while at work. It is critically important that all of our members adhere to the twice-daily screenings to ensure no one comes to work and brings COVID-19 exposure into the firehouses and sites. In addition, please review the latest PPE and Social Distancing Guidelines (See guidelines here).
Peer Support Help and Resources
The month of April is Stress Awareness Month and we would like to remind our members that health is not just physical it is also mental. We recognize that this is a trying time for many of our members and their families as they often risk exposure in order to protect our communities. Please remember to use the resources available through the Union from IAFF, and CPF including the Peer Support Program, which includes active, retiree and family resources if you need help.
Our Peer Team has been meeting weekly to assess needs not only with our regular calls but the additional impact due to COVID-19. Our Peers, along with clinicians, have been reaching out to those in quarantine or exposure situations, to families, to the Executive Staff and to the Executive Board of the Union. They have made a huge difference during this crisis.
Finally, the California Behavioral Health Task Force met virtually every day this week in order to add more resources for our members and their families through Healing Our Own. If any members or their families have a COVID-19 related story about dealing with the pandemic, PPE issues, quarantine issues, or dealing with a family member or peer's illness, please send us a note so we can contact you. Your story could help others who are also battling stress, anxiety and physical issues due to the impact of COVID-19. If you would like to share your story please email President Gillotte at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text at 310-925-2358.
As always, please get your information from reliable and confirmed sources: Local 1014, Department EA’s, IAFF and CPF as well as FireSync App which all have COVID-19 information links with the COVID-19 reporting link as well. Click here to view all Local 1014 COVID-19 Resources.
Stay safe, take care of each other. Remember that your conduct both on and off duty with regard to social distancing, cleaning and proper PPE makes a difference in not only your health but the health of those you work with and their families. Be responsible and let us all do our part.
In Solidarity and Strength,