The Debacle at DMV

The DMV Wethersfield Office has at least 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 yet Commissioner Magubane has ordered all 400 employees at that building to continue to report to work as normal, designating all 400 as “Level 1 – essential”.  To be clear, workers are being told to report to work as usual to a building with a confirmed outbreak of coronavirus, despite the Governor’s Executive Orders for all citizens to “Stay safe, Stay home”.  Gubernatorial edicts to enact widespread telecommuting have been ignored at the DMV.  Commissioner Magubane, herself under quarantine due to exposure to the virus from a fellow DMV executive, sits far away self-monitoring.  She is safely away from the worksite – a worksite that clearly is a coronavirus “hot-zone”.  Yet Commissioner Magubane has directed all 400 employees to continue to report to a facility with multiple confirmed cases of COVID-19.   Her directive risks exposure for 400 employees, their families and everyone with whom they interact

This is beyond reckless and dangerous.  With the apparent exception of Commissioner Magubane, we all know the seriousness of this disease.  Magubane’s callous disregard for the wellbeing of her staff is reprehensible.  The interests of the agency are poorly served if the entire staff succumbs to coronavirus at once, a very possible outcome if employees are foolishly required to be in close quarters with one another, in direct violation of protocols mandated by the CDC, the Governor, and virtually every other authority on the subject.  These protocols have been properly implemented at nearly all agencies, with the glaring exception of DMV.   Commissioner Magubane has consistently shown a lack of initiative and understanding about her agency throughout her short tenure at DMV.  Her inability to grasp the concepts of public health and administer her agency accordingly, despite twelve consecutive days of Executive Orders from the Governor is just inexplicable. 

Commissioner Magubane needs to be removed from office immediately before the agency becomes defunct.  

We need employees to be safe.  Safety is the union’s number one priority.  The sheer volume of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the DMV Wethersfield building establishes it as a hot-zone.  We do not consider having employees in close proximity to each other in an infectious disease hot-zone to be safe.  Based on the Governor’s Executive Orders to stay safe, stay home, we are advising employees that if you believe you have been exposed to an employee with COVID-19 at the DMV-Wethersfield Office, then you should immediately go home and self-monitor for 14 days utilizing the LOPD code on your timesheet.  If telework is possible, then please telework.

COVID-19 3/22/2020

Quite a bit has happened since we will skip the step-by-step and cut right to the "where we are today"...Monday 3/23/2020.

Governor Lamont has released a series of Executive Orders since 3/12/20 (7 thru 7i) and this weekend announced his "Stay Safe, Stay Home" initiative.  It is the Stay Safe, Stay Home initiative that State Agencies are expected to be implementing this week.  DAS/OPM released the following guidance to all agencies.

The basic gist for State Employees is that agencies are looking to maintain a skeleton crew in the office and have the majority of employees telecommuting by Tuesday 3/24.  So agencies are expected to determine and notify each employee of their individual status by Monday night.

It is important to note that all scenarios below are paid status for employees.

The guidance reads as follows:

Employees with job functions determined by the agency head to be capable of teleworking and who are equipped to do so MUST telework.

In determining the appropriate category for each job classes (and, as applicable, which individuals within each job class) in your agency, we suggest you engage in the following analysis for each job class:

First, determine whether it is possible for the employees in that job class to telework. If the employees can perform their duties at home and there is no reasonable likelihood that any of the employees would need to physically report to work outside of their home, then the employees should be categorized as Level 2.

Second, for each job class for which the employees will not be able to telework full-time, determine whether the employees in that job class will be able to perform most of their duties at home but may also need to physically report to work outside of their home on a sporadic or as needed basis. Employees in that job class should be categorized as Level 1 Intermittent.

Third, for each job class for which it is not possible for the employees to work from home, full-time or part-time, determine whether the duties performed by such employees are necessary to the programs and services that your agency must continue to keep operational while the State confronts the COVID 19 pandemic. If the work is necessary to maintain such operations, then the employees should be categorized as Level 1 Constant.

Finally, if the work is not necessary to maintain such operations, then the employees should be categorized as Level 2 – Other. Employees in such job classes will be placed on paid leave pursuant to C.G.S. §5-248(a) and notified that they may be reassigned to other appropriate work, as needed in order to ensure that the State can maintain necessary operations.

Agencies should notify all employees that the designation is for this unique circumstance, and that as circumstances change so might a particular designation.

If an agency wants to consider a creative concept not contemplated here, they should contact their assigned Labor Relations Program Manager.

HEP Requirements Indefinitely Suspended

The Health Enhancement Program requirements are indefinitley suspended until further notice for all HEP enrollees and their dependents.  There will be no penalties implemented for outstanding HEP requirements for calendar year 2019.  The calendar year 2020 compliance monitoring is suspended until further notice.

This announcement was made by the plan adminstrator as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, with the goal of easing the strain on healthcare providers related to non-emergency visits.

COVID-19 3/19

We have not seen any additional statewide guidance today, however, we are seeing a HUGE movement towards telework, so we want to start by thanking all of the agencies who made this common-sense measure a reality.   Again, a tip-of-the-hat to the A&R stewards who have been out there with our members fielding questions and pushing the message, such a tremendous effort they have put forth; we give a thank you for the thankless job they are doing..

...that said, we still have pockets of problems...and it is time to call them out...this is a serious illness that is spreading rapidly and some directors/commissioners aren't following the advice of social-distancing and the recommendations for here is what we need to:

If you HAVE REQUESTED telework and NOT YET BEEN PERMITTED TO DO SO and your JOB IS CAPABLE of being done remotely...then we want to know:

your name
your agency
your directors name
your directors title
and your commissioners name...enough is enough, we need to call out agencies who continue to keep their employees and therefore the public at risk.

Complete the Form

COVID-19 3/18 guidance

Before we get to the new guidance letter released from DAS/OPM...I want to thank the A&R stewards who have been putting the member questions to their commissioners and keeping the pressure on agencies who continue to ignore the Governor's recommendation to allow for schedule changes and telework.  First, we need the Governor to actually mandate telework a directive!  So far, Gov. Lamont has let agency discretion guide telework, he needs to give the clear message of: telework is the best method to ensure containment of the disease and continuity of government...Governor Lamont, just make it a directive..  We have buildings with hundreds of employees and public windows...yet we remain open and refuse to honor telework.  If a world-wide pandemic isn't the obvious time to limit direct social contact and to embrace 21st century technology, then we don't know what is...the Governor is trying to contain this disease and some agencies are refusing to help...this is reckless...make the directive to buy laptops and implement the obvious...more on this later.

From our shop, A&R is trying to respond to everyone who has called and emailed as well as push for the common sense measures...and of course, keep you updated and conduct normal business as well (side note: congrats to the DOL Unit Managers who are now part of A&R as a result of a win at the Labor Board last Friday!  Further, congrats to DOI and DOT employees who also successfully won their bids to unionize over the past couple of weeks!  We are trying to get your impact bargaining done and submitted to the legislature, clearly some obstacles though).

This is the latest guidance released from DAS/OPM.  It includes a helpful Q&A. 

The synopsis so far:

Sick with Coronavirus, caring for someone sick with Coronavirus, or Coronavirus-like symptoms: stay home, 14 calendar days paid leave  LOPD , telework if possible
Returned from: Iran, South Korea, China, Europe: stay home, 14 calendar days paid leave LOPD, telework if possible
Child/Elder care closing:  stay home, 14 calendar days paid leave LOPD, telework if possible
Transportation impossible:stay home, 14 calendar days paid leave LOPD, telework if possible
Compromised Immune System:  submit a doctor's directive to stay home...then stay home, 14 days, telework.

All others: report to work, telework, or use accrued time.

There have been numerous informational documents, so we are attempting a quick synopsis of the guidance and Q&A...this is not a substitute for actually reading the latest guidance...but a quick run-down of some of the items contained within them.

  • The 14 days are calendar days and run consecutively starting from the day you first access them.
  • If you are under the "14 days paid leave" but teleworking....this means give as many hours as you can under your normal time codes and the balance of the time is LOPD.
  • Telework is NOT limited to 50% of the week.
  • Titles not previously allowed for Telework are now allowable
  • If you are declared essential...this does NOT override the above directives and this does NOT mean that you can't telework...essential designation is not a way of ignoring health concerns to ensure continuity of government, telework is the way you ensure continuity of government and maintain health.
  • To request telework under these circumstances: the normal paperwork can be by-passed, just a brief statement of duties and a proposed schedule is all that is needed.
  • If you wish to create "odd" hours during the crisis, this is allowed.  If you only need to provide childcare coverage until 1pm, you can come in to the office at 2pm and work later.
  • HEP requirements timelines are being extended (not sure exactly what this means yet, but for those trying to meet their 2019 requirements, the timeline before removal has been extended).
  • If both parents are state employees, only one at a time can access the 14 days for child/elder care.
  • Taking temperature of staff: only in a healthcare setting...please don't try to play doctor at your office, unless you are a doctor.



Coronavirus 3/17/2020

On behalf of the 2,800 state employees represented by A&R, we made a demand to the Governor today to close non-essential functions and release A&R employees on paid leave until this pandemic is contained.

We will continue to push this position as this crisis continues to dig deeper.  The Governor will need to face the reality, that our workplace conditions put us all at increased risk of infection for not only ourselves, but the families we go home to.