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UPE News Item

DHA Reopening Meet & Confer

Safety & Telework 

7/24/20

       UPE met and conferred with DHA over on-going issues relating to COVID-19.  UPE asked extensive questions relating to the Department’s safety protocols and additional cleaning.  The Department stated that contracted cleaners are cleaning common areas and bathrooms using CDC approved “deep cleaning products”.  Additionally, the Department stated that the County Department of Health and County-wide administration have reviewed and approved of the County’s cleaning protocols.  UPE requested copies of all cleaning contracts, a list of cleaning products being used, and requested the Department perform inspections to ensure that cleaners are performing additional cleaning after hours.  UPE also proposed additional cleaning of all workspaces and common areas in the vicinity of a worker who tested positive.  

      UPE proposed and DHA agreed to notice bureaus within 24 hours of a reported positive case.  The Department also affirmed that they are conducting contact tracing in conjunction with public health on all positive cases.  UPE proposed that the Department, in addition to noticing workers individually through the contact tracing process, also individually notice all workers sitting in the immediate area of a worker who tests positive.  The Department agreed to update UPE weekly with the total number of positive cases reported at each bureau.  

      After questioning from UPE about workers being denied masks or asked to use one mask for a month, the Department made clear that workers may request a mask at any time from the Department and they will be supplied.  UPE also expressed concern about staff not wearing masks.  In response, the Department stated that they ordered face shields to provide to workers who cannot wear masks.  These will be available in the next couple weeks.

      The two sides also discussed telework at length during the meeting.  UPE continues to advocate for as much telework as possible, both for workers with underlying conditions and those without.  As of now, the Department only has the beginning of a plan to allow for a telework rotation at East Commerce, Greenhaven, 28th St. and Foster Care. However, the Department does not have enough information at this time to state how many workers can be allowed to telework at any given time, or the criteria for determining who gets to telework.  The Department was definitive that they are not exploring any options for telework that cost the Department money due to the budget.  

      UPE asked if the Department requested additional funding from the Board of Supervisors, but the Department representatives could not answer that question.  The Department will be able to provide additional information next week. UPE told the Department we are prepared to meet as soon as possible regarding any plans for additional telework. However, the earliest the Department would be available to meet again is not until the first or second week of August.    

      UPE asked again about telework opportunities for non-service center workers.  At this time, the Department does not have plans in place for these workers to telework.  These plans remain in development.  These include Cal-works intake, Welfare to work, childcare, IVES, and all of clerical.  UPE believes that there is enough work for these workers to work from home at least part of the time.  Unfortunately, the Department is not prepared to discuss options for those workers.  Again, UPE is ready.      

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