Keep NYS Essential Employees Safe

Keep NYS Essential Employees Safe

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PEF Division 399 started this petition to Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand and

On Monday, June 1 2020, NYS ODTA employees located in the Southern Tier, Endicott NY, received a message that the phased re-opening plan would begin on June 8, 2020. The expectation was that only a limited amount of employees would come back to work and gradually bring everyone back. Employees soon found that was not the case. Instead, some of the staff returned on Monday, June 8, 2020 and the remainder of the staff Thursday, June 11, 2020. Meaning we were at 100% capacity, which is not in adherence with the NYS Department of Health or the Governor’s own guidelines. (1, 2). The majority of employees work in an open space environment with cubicles. This type of work setting does not promote social distancing and increased virus infection of employees. (3) Additionally, we share the large office building with multiple agencies, which add to the risk factors. Instead of management being more flexible with schedules to limit the number of people in the office at any given time, i.e. extending work hours during the week, they became more rigid.  This is not the plan that Governor Cuomo put in place, which stated, sites should be at 50% capacity in the building, and allow for alternate work schedules while being as accommodating as possible. (4) We now know that is not the case.
     Being able to work from home would mitigate the risk factors, improve work output, and improve employee morale. (5, 6, 7, 8). Instead of following Governor Cuomo’s directives, we have been mandated report in person, rather than create the infrastructure that would enable us to get back to work safely. We are one of the only Agencies that lacks the ability to work from home. For years, PEF has asked DDD and OTDA Management for years for a telecommuting agreement and been told that it was not possible due to our infrastructure and security risks/vulnerabilities. Other states who do the same exact work as we do and have the capacity to work from home and have been during this pandemic. We all have to report on site because the agency has refused to obtain the necessary equipment for us to work from home. We are one of the few agencies that is not public facing and does not have the ability to work from home. In this pandemic, the refusal to make necessary adjustments to allow us to work from home is inhumane, irresponsible, and reckless. An office at full capacity regardless of PPE and social distancing still increases exposure if we are in a space for a 7-11 hour workday.

     New York State OTDA/DDD needs to create an infrastructure that would allow us to work from home and create a work environment that would ensure social distancing, which may include alternate weeks for staff immediately. It is unfair that New York State agencies do not have to adhere to the same standards and accountability that private companies do. WE MATTER TOO!

Please sign this petition in Solidarity

References
1. https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/offices-interim-guidance.pdf
2. https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/OfficesSummaryGuidelines.pdf
3. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/health/coronavirus-office-makeover.html
4. https://mailchi.mp/4b1b2625a2f2/100-church-street-updates?e=72e1979347
5. https://www.businessinsider.com/unexpected-benefits-of-working-from-home-2020-4
6. https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/a-2-year-stanford-study-shows-astonishing-productivity-boost-of-working-from-home.html
7. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/17/covid-19-makes-the-benefits-of-telework-obvious/
8. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/05/850106772/for-these-federal-employees-telework-means-productivity-is-up-their-backlog-is-d

 

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!