Local 1092

COVID UPDATE for MSOP:

Recently, AFSCME Local 1092 Executive Board asked for a meet and confer with MSOP Administration and Human Resources to get some frequently asked questions answered in regards to COVID, the Governor’s mandate, N95 masks, and other concerns. Here are the results of that meeting:

Regarding n95 masks:

Q: Are these masks going to be a required piece of our uniforms?

A: All staff will be fit-tested. Occupational health dept is being built right now that can be utilized for this. The long-term plan is not clear, so we don’t have an answer for that yet. There is a sequence on how we must do things. Other options will be available for those who need them once supplies are acquired.

Q: Is this mask a requirement to remain employed here? 

A: When policy gets updated and if policy makes it a requirement for employment, yes. As of right now, it is not reflected in policy. Not sure when it may happen.

Q: Will we be getting a new one each day or will we be forced to wear one (much in the same way the original ones worked) for days on end?

A: New one every day, when in doubt throw it away and get new one.

 

Q: Will these masks be supplied to each employee or does each employee need to pay for their own? 

 

A: Yes, they will be supplied by MSOP.

 

Q: What happens if I do not pass the medical evaluation to wear the mask?

 

A: Cleared it or not- staff should follow up with their Doctor if they have issues or concerns about the N95. There is no clear definitive answer, however, there will be alternative options to the N95 Mask, like the PAPR. This is subject to change as is all things COVID related as we learn more and supplies become available. (Admin did not deny the option of reassigning staff who cannot wear the N95 to a different work location until other arrangements can be made). 

Q: Will males (and those with facial hair that identify as male) be forced to shave their beards to wear these masks properly?

 

A: Yes, they will be required to properly fit test the N95 mask.

 

Q: If shaving becomes a requirement to work here, will an employee’s heritage/religious rights be recognized as a waiver of these requirements?

 

A: Yes, those factors can and will be considered. Staff are encouraged to work with their supervisors and HR for those situations. They will be required to be fit tested for n95, but alternate options must be available too, like the PAPR.

Q: Why now? Covid has been here now over a year and only NOW we’re concerned about these n95 masks? Less than a year ago I was inside a covid infected client’s room to pack him up wearing nothing for PPE but this cheap blue mask and rubber gloves as protection against this virus. Yet now we must all be wearing an n95 mask? How does this make any sense?

A: It doesn’t, research has moved forward, supply is more available. This is the best practice; it is what we have right now. We must all be able to adapt and change as we move forward.

Regarding testing and consent:

Q: Why are only those categorized as “unvaccinated” being tested when the data clearly shows that both the unvaccinated and vaccinated can catch, carry, and spread covid equally?

 

A: Right now, we are only requiring the “unvaccinated” to test due to the mandate. This could change to point prevalence very quickly if there is an outbreak at the facility. HR has provided the website that shows where you can get free tests sent home, and where the free in communities testing takes place.

https://mn.gov/covid19/get-tested/testing-locations/index.jsp

There is a link on this site that will take you to the Minnesota’s no-cost test at home program, but here it is as well.

https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/testsites/athome.html

 

Q: If “safety of staff and clients” is truly the concern here than shouldn’t EVERYONE be tested? 

A: It is in the Governor’s mandate that only the “unvaccinated” should be tested. This can and very likely will change if COVID becomes prevalent in the facility.

Q: Why is the frequency of testing set at weekly?

A: The Governor’s mandate has outlined the testing frequency.

Q: Why are our jobs being threatened if we do not sign the testing forms?

A: After the Governor’s mandate, a policy was constructed that outlines the steps that need to be taken to comply. There are options for those who do not sign the consent form or sign “under duress” in the policy.

Q: How does signing under “duress” invalidate one’s compliance and signature on said forms?

A. Legally speaking, a consent form signed “under duress” is invalid and therefore cannot be used as legal consent.

Q: How is it okay to force me into signing a form to submit to testing or face disciplinary action when signing that same form waives my rights to hold the state liable for any injuries or unintended consequences that come out of the testing? Signing “Voluntary consent” form states that Liability is waived for Mandatory testing by the state. What liability does the state or MSOP have for a spit test and how is this Legal?

A. (There was no answer, then HR Rep spoke up) I don’t know, I will have to get back to you on this one.

 

Q: It is stated that the testing is mandatory, but we are signing “Voluntary consent” form, is a contradiction in terms. How is it a “volunteer consent” if it is a requirement to work here?

 

A: (Original consent form was voluntary) There have been changes done to the consent form. HR stated it was brought to MMB this morning to get an answer on the issue.  HR will give a response when she gets it. HR is sure it no longer says voluntary.  She will look at forms emailed out to look for that change.

 

Q:  If I take a test prior to my work shift (which is the current standard process) and am not receiving the results for at least a day or more, aren’t I then (if positive) potentially and unnecessarily spreading the virus throughout the facility?

 

A: Yes, that is why we wear masks and socially distance from each other.

 

Q: Wouldn’t all staff be considered signing “under duress” since it is now a condition to stay employed?

 

A: No, because they did not specifically claim they were signing under duress, legally their consent is still valid.

 

Q: Those who did not sign the form by the deadline have been able to sign the form and get tested at work, why the difference between them and those who signed “under duress”?

 

A: Again, because they did not specifically claim they were signing under duress, legally their consent is still valid.

 

Q: Why is DHS/MSOP conducting their policy differently than other state agencies (i.e., DOC)?

 

A: DOC is conducting point prevalence testing for all staff. Not sure and can’t comment on their policies, but we believe it is due to a lack of staff. They have far fewer staff than we do and far fewer areas to pull from.  DHS is different and we can’t compare us to what DOC is doing.  We have different masking requirements also.

 

Q: How long must clients be locked down after a secluded client tests negative for COVID?

 

A: We were waiting to find a reason why a client would have COVID like symptoms before we released them back to their unit and opened their unit. This was to cover all our bases. Like on 1E, we had to look at why did they have those symptoms. We tested for Influenza, Strep, and several other things to explain those symptoms first. 1B had a reason why those symptoms showed up, and it was not COVID so they were released much sooner.

 

Q:  What sense does it make to allow clients to go without masks, while staff remain required to wear them?

 

A: Stay-tuned, that is most likely to change if COVID enters the facility.

 

Q: Why when I have asked these questions, I have been told “Don’t worry about it. That’s above your pay grade.” 

 

A: If supervisors say this they should be talked to, but we would need to know which ones. We will be talking to our supervisors about this.

 

Q: Why is short staffing acceptable in certain areas, i.e., 1E, 1A, A-Team, Lobby Control, and Complex Control? Someone is going to get hurt.

 

A: MSOP, as is everywhere else, is short employees right now. Recruiting is done best by you guys (UNION/Current employees) and keep on helping us find people and refer them. Also, on that same note, we listened when we were told that too many staff are being forced sometimes 6 days in a row so we considered where we could find relief for those staff and decided to create those pull-down spots so that we could send some of those staff home to get rest and be safe.

 Regarding Training:

Q: Why is there in-person and hands on training going on again? i.e., Self-defense

 

A: In person training has been going on already, masks are worn. Staff have the option of participating with the hands-on part. However, hands-on training is one of our best options. As of right now we don’t anticipate slowing down the training.

 Specific Situations:

Q: We have a staff member who is allergic to procedural masks, she is wondering if she can wear a cloth mask instead. She has medical documentation. How can she address this?

A: She can get an ADA (Americans with Disability Act) exemption. Also, she can wear a cloth mask under the procedural mask if that would help.

Q: Why are visitors/volunteers allowed to still come in without a mask or vaccine or test? If COVID has become such a huge problem again, why are we not having staff wear face shields like the nurses?

A: There are constant changes to the policy regarding visitors and volunteers. We are requiring visitors and volunteers to wear masks at this point. The N95 mask policy is an attempt to remedy this.

 

IS there more you want to know? Send your questions to an E-Board Member and we will try to get them addressed at the next Labor/Management meeting.

E-Board Members include:

Christina St. Germaine – President

Jenny Collelo – Vice President

Sabrina Search – Secretary (preferred contact person)

Jason Anderson – Treasurer (preferred contact person)

Arthur Miller – Chief Steward (preferred contact person)

YOUR PERSONEL FILES

 This is an awareness message for all AFSCME Local 1092 members.  The Local Union is suggesting you make reminder alerts in your email when eligible removal date occurs per below.  On those dates please send HR a request to have them removed.  They are not removed automatically.

Email HR requesting access to your personnel file or to remove disciplines and/or letter of expectations is:
MSOP- [email protected]
Community Behavioral Services - [email protected]
ARTICLE 16 - DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE
B. Employee/Union Access to File. The contents of an employee's personnel office record shall be disclosed to the employee upon request and to the employee's Union representative upon the written request of the employee. In the event a grievance is initiated under Article 17, the Appointing Authority shall provide a copy of any items from the employee's personnel office record upon the request of the employee. Up to ten (10) copies of such material shall be without cost to the employee, Local Union, or Union. A supervisor’s file is subject to the release provisions of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
 
C. Removing Materials from File. Upon the employee's request, the following documentation shall be removed from the employee's personnel file:
1. A written reprimand provided that no further disciplinary action has been taken against the employee for eighteen (18) months from the date of the written reprimand;
2. A written record of a suspension of ten (10) days or less provided that no further disciplinary action has been taken against the employee for three (3) years from the effective date of the suspension;
3. A written requirement to provide a medical statement (and any such statements) due to suspected sick leave abuse, provided that the employee has not received such a requirement for one (1) year from the expiration of the previous requirement.
4. A "letter of expectation," which is not discipline, provided that the employee has performed satisfactorily for six (6) months from the date of the "letter of expectation."
 
Upon request, disciplinary letters which have met the contractual conditions of removal from the employee’s personnel file shall also be removed from the supervisor’s file.
A written request to remove a document from a personnel file under this section shall not be placed in the file.
Materials removed pursuant to this section shall be provided to the employee.


If you have questions please talk to a local steward.
In solidarity,
Local 1092 E-Board Members
Christina St. Germaine – President
Jenny Collelo – Vice President
Art Miller – Chief Steward MSOP
Jason Anderson – Treasurer
Sabrina Search – Secretary
Heather Schultz- Chief Steward At Large
Dawn Poskie- Eboard at Large

New law FAQs: Workers’ compensation coverage for employees who contract COVID-19 

What does the new law do? 

PDF icon FAQ- Covid-19- Workers' Comp

Effective Wednesday, April 8, 2020, a new law states that certain employees who contract COVID-19 are presumed to have an occupational disease covered by the Minnesota workers’ compensation law. This is a summary of the law.

PDF icon Covid-19 Workers' Comp Law

This law is effective for employees who contract COVID-19 on or after the day following final enactment and sunsets May 1, 2021.

PLEASE SEE EXECUTIVE ORDER POSTED:

PDF icon Executive Order 20-54

"Protecting Workers from Unsafe Working Conditions and Retaliation During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency"

AFSCME local 1092 leaders had a meeting with employer 11/9/20 regarding our Unions concerns on security counselors (SC) working on Chi/Delta units. Management was questioned why only the A-team SC staff have been provided with the same PPE equipment including N95 masks as the MSOP nurses. Provided equipment should be the same as the MSOP nurses for ALL SC staff who work those units. MSOP management reported that the Senior Management team in St. Paul has the authority to direct that. The names were provided below for who holds authority per MSOP management.

AFSCME Local 1092 is requesting ALL STAFF to contact the appropriate people. Please make calls AND/OR send emails to ask for support to "Protect Workers from Unsafe working conditions."

SEND DAILY EMAIL TO BOTH!

LET'S PUT PRESSURE ON THE EMPLOYER NOW!

Connie Jones: DHS St Paul

[email protected]

651-431-2999

Melissa Gresczyk

[email protected]

218--565-6016

Nominations for Delegates to the Contract Negotiation Assembly are now open and will be closed at the November membership meeting.  

Contract campaign activities may include (but not limited to) flyer distribution, campaign buttons, informational picketing, rallies, picnics, and communication within community groups, membership (including one-on-one communcations) and PEOPLE recruitment, talking to legislators and asking others to get involved.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities of Negotiations Delegates:

1. Attend Negotiation Assembly meetings; training will be provided at the assembly that delegates ar required to attend. This training will include message and workplace communications.
2. Deliberate and decide within the unit caucuses which proposals will move forward to the Master team.
3. Elect the Master Team out of the bargaining unit caucuses.
4. Attend other assembly meetings as required by the Master Team, including those where the assembly authorizes acceptance or rejections of agreements.
5. Delegates are the communication link in the workplace.  Distribute informational flyers in person to union members and workplace contacts and participate in any and all contract campaign activities.
6. Attend local union meetings to report on activities/conversations with co-workers regarding contract campaign activities.
 

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