APWU St. Paul, MN Area Local APWU
Todd Elkerton, President 3/16/2020
COVID 19 SPREADS TO BE CALLED A PANDEMIC AFFECTING US ALL
As the spread of COVID 19 continues the forward march of infecting our population and Federal and Local Governments work to protect the people of this country, we seeing none of us will escape the impact of this pandemic. The St. Paul APWU has been asked many questions in regards to USPS operations and what do they do. The most common question is “will the USPS shutdown?” The answer is we don’t know. However, we do know the USPS is the Government operated supply chain to deliver necessary products to the United States and as such it is anticipated we will not close operations but be determined to be a necessary and essential service to provide the medicine, preventative supplies to all concerns of this country. So, as we watch and are impacted by the spread of this virus, we will also be asked to be the front lines in providing the life saving products to the country.
The St. Paul APWU started having discussion with the Northland District Manager Tony Williams three weeks ago asking messaging and proper supplies be delivered to each Post Office to help keep employees safe. Also was discussed the need to increase the wholescale cleaning of the facilities by our custodians, clerks, and contractors who are tasked with cleaning facilities. There was a new directive sent out for these increases and the requirement to complete these tasks are put on local management to ensure it is happening. Every couple of days, the directions to discuss necessary changes to operations and being sent to the facilities. Please listen closely to these directions and help protect yourself and family members.
The St. Paul APWU has also discussed the fear and anxiety our employees are facing as the have to continue to carry out the USPS mission. We discussed the need to be liberal with the leave requests and understand many of our members have medically fragile family members and kids who need us to stay healthy. On Friday, the National APWU also notified us they are in discussion with USPS headquarters to further solidify how these protections will be administered.
There is also information being developed for how if an employee is exposed to this virus at work will be provided wage loss protection through the Office of Workers Compensation. The following is the link found on the Department of Labor website. A federal employee who contracts the Coronavirus Disease – 2019, known as COVID-19, while in performance of their job duties would have the full coverage of the FECA for related medical treatment and for wage loss or disability related to that condition or associated complications.
Please read the website information fully and note coverage is only extended to those who have the medical tests proving diagnosis of COVID 19 and it happened while in the performance of duty. If you have tested positive and believe it was in the performance of your duties while working at the USPS please contact the Local for us to provide specific information to your Doctor so the claim can be processed and approved without delay.
However, under 20 C.F.R. § 10.303, exposure to COVID-19 alone does not constitute a work-related injury entitling an employee to medical treatment under the FECA. The employee must actually be diagnosed with COVID-19 to potentially be afforded coverage. To establish coverage, the employee must submit a medical report from a qualified physician as defined in 5 U.S.C. § 8101(2) reflecting a positive test result for COVID-19 based on established employment-related exposure to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website contains information about the testing and diagnosis of COVID-19.
The FECA does not authorize payment for provision of preventive measures such as quarantines. In general, preventive treatment is a responsibility of the employing agency under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 7901.
Also, the APWU Health Plan has announced testing for the virus will be covered fully to include the copay for the virus.
Moving forward as the spread of this virus continues, we need to more than ever understand we have an obligation to ourselves, coworkers, and public to keep our work areas clean and regularly wipe down surfaces which can host this virus. If management in your facility is not making available the necessary supplies to this please contact us and we will help get the necessary attention to the needs and communicate to the Leadership where the supplies and information is needed. Last, please help your co-workers by not hoarding these supplies by taking them for your own use. The supplies have become in short supply and taking them puts us all at risk.
We are committed to continue to work with management as this National Emergency continues to communicate with management where the processing is breaking down. We need everyone to work together in the coming days.
We will also send updates to employees as things rapidly change.