BULLETIN 4/3/20 These are difficult times, and we greatly appreciate your patience as we work through this crisis. As Wabtec continues production during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing what Unions were formed to do, even under the threat of a global pandemic: fight to improve working conditions. We are in unchartered waters, but we went to the Company to bargain the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and, this morning, the Executive Board approved an agreement through April 24, which we hope will provide some guidance for you. You can read the full agreement if you click on the link below this BULLETIN. Although this agreement—like all negotiations—doesn’t offer all that we proposed, UE Locals 506 and 618 worked toward an agreement that ensures that our members have clearer guide rails during this period of great uncertainty. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Union’s position remains unchanged: Wabtec’s continued production of locomotives and parts that are not essential and necessary to keep our Nation’s railroads moving is beyond the spirit of Governor Wolf’s waiver and the Homeland Security directive on life-sustaining jobs critical to our Nations infrastructure. To date, we have not received a response form the Governor. You can read our latest request to Governor Wolf if you click on the link below this BULLETIN on www.uelocal506.com. County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and State Representative Ryan Bizzaro have acted—standing up for the health and welfare of our members, our families and our communities. If you get a chance, send them a note of thanks via your social media or email. We understand the stress of this rapidly evolving public health crisis is real, but we must all do our best to support one another. If you or someone in your family are feeling anxious or overwhelmed by COVID-19 — you are not alone. It is okay to reach out for help. If you need someone to talk to, text PA to 741-741. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7. The ability of Wabtec to provide proper safety measures may come down to supplies. If you are in an area and are running out of soap in the bathrooms, hand sanitizer, disinfectant or proper PPE immediately notify your supervisor and safety coordinator. Understand what you can do to stay safe by taking a minute to educate yourself about effective prevention methods—CLICK HERE https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.htmlhttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html To read the most up-to-the-minute available information regarding UC eligibility CLICK HERE: https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspxhttps://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspx
As per the PA Department of Labor & Industry, please see the following information on two recent problems constituents are experiencing:
- The Unemployment Compensation mainframe is experiencing technical difficulties at this time.
- Claimants can still file INITIAL CLAIMS but BIWEEKLY CLAIMS cannot be accepted.
- The issue is being addressed and you will be notified when it is resolved.Claimants will not lose eligibility for any weeks as a result of not being able to file.
- Claimants who have tried to file bi-weekly claims today have received the following notification:
- “You have a claim established, but it is currently inactive”Claimants should IGNORE the message to call the UC service center to provide additional information
- This issue is being handled internally - claims will be automatically released from inactive status.
- Claimants should continue to attempt to file their biweekly claims daily until the claim is processed.
- Claimants will not lose eligibility for any weeks as a result of not being able to file.
- Wabtec’s reckless decision to ramp production back up during this COVID-19 crisis is causing UE Locals 506 and 618 to ensure that our members' health and well-being are protected more than ever. We understand the anxiety these corporate choices are generating for you and your families—rest assured we have your back! We are following the PA Department of Health @PAHealthDept on Twitter and @GovernorWolf on Facebook as the most direct source of factual, up-to-the-minute information, and encourage you to access these government resources.
- We understand that the stress that this rapidly evolving public health crisis is real, but we must all do our best to stay cool and follow the rules. If you or someone in your family are feeling anxious or overwhelmed by COVID-19 — you are not alone. It is okay to reach out for help. If you need someone to talk to, text PA to 741-741. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7. We will continue to insist Wabtec does its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by following the CDC and PA Department of Health guidelines put in place to equip employers to limit exposure to their employees. Our position is clear: Wabtec ramping production of international parts back up is beyond the spirit of Governor Wolf’s waiver and the Homeland Security directive on life-sustaining jobs.
- Governor Wolf’s Waiver: In-person work at a business site is only to be performed on the most limited basis possible to deliver the service or goods of your life-sustaining business.
- DHS Guidance: to support the Nation's critical infrastructure. We recognize that State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are ultimately in charge of implementing and executing response activities in communities under their jurisdiction, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role.
- To date, the Governor has not acted. You can read our latest request to Governor Wolf if you click on the link below this BULLETIN on www.uelocal506.com.www.uelocal506.com
- In light of the company’s relentless drive to ramp up production to fill international locomotive orders, we have ramped up our work to protect you.
- Daily calls with Safety Coordinators and Plant Managers to ensure the Company's plan is implemented,
- Identify concerns and discussing methods to avoid exposure,
- Insisting the Company follows the proper procedures and the CDC guidelines to keep everyone protected from unnecessary spread, and
- Provide necessary PPE and supplies to protect every single person.
- In a 4.5 million square foot facility to eliminate the possibility of contamination will be next to impossible, which is why we will continue to insist the company only allow the necessary and essential operations to continue, complying with Governor Wolfs directive and DHS guidance to support the Nation's critical infrastructure, The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate, brothers and sisters. White-collar or blue, every employee working must commit to doing everything in their power to limit exposure and mitigate the spread. The ability to responsibly adhere may come down to supplies. If you are in an area and are running out of soap in the bathrooms, hand sanitizer, disinfectant or proper PPE immediately notify your supervisor and safety coordinator. Understand what you can do to stay safe by taking a minute to educate yourself about effective prevention methods—CLICK HERE https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.htmlhttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html
- On Monday, March 30, the Company will be implementing badge and temperature scans at the East & West Gates in an attempt to mitigate unnecessary exposure. The East Gate will be opening at 5:30 am and the West Gate will be open 24/7. The North Gate will be closed until further notice. UE Locals 506 and 618 met with the Company Thursday and Friday to bargain the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. We will update you once an agreement is met. We understand member's concerns about returning to work. We would like to give you a direct answer and clear instructions on how to proceed. This is an unprecedented and unique situation, and as a union, we would normally provide clear direction/guidance. As frustrating as this is, we still cannot give members blanket answers on unemployment eligibility.
- At this point, reporting to work on Monday is a personal decision. Every individual has a unique situation and each member’s eligibility will be determined by the State. One thing that is clear — if you read the Wabtec communication regarding attendance (below) — you cannot be fired for not coming to work for any reasons stated by the Company, and if you follow their call-off procedure.
- To read the most up-to-the-minute available information regarding UC eligibility CLICK HERE: https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspxhttps://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspx
- Wabtec March 12, 2020 Effective March 13, 2020 -At Wabtec Corporation the safety of our employees is always paramount. With the rise of coronavirus disease (also referred to as COVID-19) in the United States, the Company wants to ensure that all employees feel comfortable both with coming into work or staying home if there is a risk that they will spread or contract the disease. Effective March 13, 2020 -April 12, 2020 employees who call off at least one hour before their scheduled start time will not be assessed attendance points and will not be required to use their paid time off if they choose not to. In addition, if an employee is at work and needs to leave because they are ill the same will apply. As a reminder, the call-off number is (814)875-4000.
- COVID 19 BULLETIN 3/25/20 We are sharing our current communications with the Governor’s office in an effort to keep you in the loop as we await the Governor’s response. Please read the attached letters to learn about what we know right now, and what we need to know. BOTTOM LINE
- We do not believe that Wabtec calling all employees back to work is in line with what Governor Wolf’s waiver allows. We have made it abundantly clear that we are not trying to hinder operations. We support the operations of Wabtec—our employer and livelihood—and the production of renewal parts to provide railroads to move life-sustaining supplies during this global pandemic.
- The Company does not have the necessary sanitizing supplies, PPE or safety protocols in place to provide a safe, sanitized properly equipped working environment. If the company proceeds with recalling employees not working on life-sustaining parts they are unnecessarily putting our members, their families and our community efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid -19 in jeopardy.
- We understand member's concerns with returning to work and would like to give you a direct answer of how to proceed. Without proper guidance from the governor’s office, it is difficult at this time to provide that. At this point, it is a personal decision. We remind all members of Wabtec’s previous communications regarding time and attendance.
- Effective March 13, 2020 -At Wabtec Corporation the safety of our employees is always paramount. With the rise of coronavirus disease (also referred to as COVID-19) in the United States, the Company wants to ensure that all employees feel comfortable both with coming into work or staying home if there is a risk that they will spread or contract the disease. Effective March 13, 2020 -April 12, 2020 employees who call off at least one hour before their scheduled start time will not be assessed attendance points and will not be required to use their paid time off if they choose not to. In addition, if an employee is at work and needs to leave because of they are ill the same will apply. As a reminder, the call-off number is (814)875-4000.
On March 24, 2020, the union met with the company to discuss safety for workers who are working due to the waiver granted by Governor Tom Wolf. The company has communicated the employees currently working are designated as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” providing renewal parts that are necessary to move the nation's critical supplies that are vital to the nation’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The union has requested the Governor’s Office provide the scope of work the exemptions Wabtec was granted by the waiver. We have also requested the state provide a contact to enforce compliance. The Unions request is to ensure all employees, their families and our community are not subjected to unnecessary risk. We continue to receive complaints the company continues to grant non-essential workers, contractors, and vendors access to the facility. We have also received complaints that workers are performing work for new international orders. The local addressed these concerns with the company and demanded they comply to limit exposure. The following list represents just a few of the risks, safety measures and ideas the group discussed to ensure we can all work safely during this pandemic and avoid pulling resources from hospitals where supplies are in high demand and low supply.
- • Enforce critically needed employees only • Increase Communications • Adequate sanitizer and disinfectant supply • Point of contact for supplies • Single point entry to buildings / with temperature scans • Propping all interior doors to eliminate unnecessary contact • Develop response protocol for employees who test positive • Checklist and audit of supplies and sanitation performed prior to and during each shift. • Identifying multiple suppliers for PPE and alternative solutions to avoid depleting medical stock. • Limiting touchpoints • Truck drivers’ delivery protocol • Cushman and Kubota restrictions • Color-coded cleaning supplies to eliminate cross contamination between bathrooms and breakrooms • Single point of contact for cleaning concerns. Increase cleaning frequency in areas working. • Mobile hand washing stations The union, safety coordinators, senior plant manager, plant managers, union relations, EHS and plant protection participated in the discussion.
- The union is also working on a schedule with union relations and the Wabtec attorneys for effects bargaining. We will continue to keep you informed as we proceed and new information becomes available. We thank everyone for their patience during this unprecedented time. We encourage everyone to adhere to County Executive Kathy Dalkemper stay at home order when not at work. This is the only way we can truly mitigate the spread of Covid -19. Please continue to monitor uelocal506.com for updates. Stay safe. Stay Healthy.
- What can we do about incoming truckdrivers to prevent possible contamination? A team is working to come up with a standard process for limiting the exposure of interaction between truckdrivers and our employees. Solutions being implemented include: • Portable toilets at the visitor’s gate • Signage at the loading docks • Quarantine areas at the loading docks • Not requiring signatures for UPS and FEDEX deliveries
- Are we allowing visitors into the plant? Except for individuals supporting life-sustaining activities, all visitors have been restricted at the Erie site.
- There was a recent announcement in Erie regarding a “shelter in place” order. What does that mean for employees at the Erie site? According to the stay at home guidance (shelter in place) by Governor Wolf, employees may still report to work for life sustaining business activities. For those that must travel to the plant and are concerned about getting stopped, please print the attached document explaining the exemption. For more information visit https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.23.20-Stay-At-Home-Order-Guidance.pdfhttps://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.23.20-Stay-At-Home-Order-Guidance.pdf Allowable essential travel also includes: • Care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disability or other vulnerable persons • Travel to or return to a place of residence • Travel required by law enforcement or court order • Allowable individual activities include: o Tasks to maintain health and safety to include: Obtaining medical supplies Obtaining Food / groceries Visiting health care professionals Obtaining supplies to work from home Necessary supplies for themselves or family
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP) The LifeWorks Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers confidential counseling and guidance for personal problems. This benefit is available to you, all immediate family members and all individuals living in your household. It is offered to all employees, even if you waive medical coverage. You and your family may use this service for up to five sessions per issue, per year at no cost. The EAP offers confidential counseling and guidance for dealing with a personal problem, such as: • Stress • Family problems • Relationship concerns • Alcohol/drug abuse • Depression • Anxiety • Elder care • Budget and financial concerns • Parenting problems • Grief • Job-related issues • Legal issues
COVID-19 UPDATE The company has been given a waiver that allows the business to operate and supply renewal parts to support the railroads. We are requesting the details of the waiver from the Governor’s Office to understand the scope and ensure compliance. The company is working on compiling a list of areas they feel are essential and identify the workers not being temporarily laid off. We are also preparing to engage in effects bargaining over the continued operation of the facility and the impact on our members. The membership, their families and our community’s health remain our primary focus. We have received multiple reports from employees regarding the lack of PPE and sanitation supplies. The union demands the company act responsibly and provide all proper PPE, sanitization, and implementation of all precautions necessary to protect its employees. The situation is fluid and the company has communicated they are doing their best to comply. Our concern is that supplies are in high demand and in low supply. The intent to comply is not good enough considering the severity of the situation. We will continue to provide updates as more information is provided. Please continue to monitor uelocal506.com for updates.