APWU St. Paul, MN Area Local APWU
Todd Elkerton, President 5/15/20
Confirmed Positive COVID19 at St. Paul Plant
The St. Paul Area Local was notified of a confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnosis through testing late yesterday afternoon May 14, 2020 for an employee who works in the St. Paul MN Processing and Distribution Center in Eagan, MN. The information Management has given the Union at this time is the infected employee was notified they had been in contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 29 and the employee followed protocols and self-quarantined. May 3rd while in self isolation the employee started to have symptoms and was tested this week, which resulted in the positive test. This means the infected employee was not in the facility for the last two weeks. In accordance with established procedures, this means there is no emergency cleaning of the facility nor has anyone else been identified as needed to be isolated and self-quarantined due to this positive diagnosis. Because the employee followed all directions, they helped protect the rest of us.
Due to privacy requirements the person can not be identified. We take these privacy considerations seriously and hope everyone will respect the actions this person took to protect the rest of us with the information they were given. This pandemic is something none of us have ever seen. The unprecedented effect it has on all of us has created a great deal of stress and anxiety due to the lack of sufficient knowledge regarding this virus. I believe with this first diagnosis, we will see more in the coming days. We will all have to make informed decisions to protect ourselves and our co-workers if we are to move forward in the coming days.
This is an important reminder to be disciplined at work in physical distancing and wearing face masks when the distancing is not possible due to the work assignment. We need also, for the protection of others, to follow directions of public health protocols when we have been notified of exposure to someone who has the virus. The message “if you are sick stay home!!!” needs to be followed for the protection of all of us. Look out for each other by keeping your work area clean. Lastly, please when you discard your disposable personal protective gear, put in the trash – not on the floor, equipment, water fountains, parking lot. Help us out so our custodians can focus the cleaning necessary to protect us and not picking up after you.
Over the last several days, testing and positive diagnosis has been rising as the restrictions placed are being relaxed. It is clear these actions will put more of us at risk over the coming days due to this virus. As I have been saying this is a situation where we can not be selfish, we are all in this together and need to not only look out for ourselves but each other. I want to thank each and everyone of you for your efforts taken out of concern for others.
As a union we will continue to demand all protocols are followed which have been issued in protecting us as essential workers. We will also communicate information and protect privacy as this pandemic continues to impact our membership. I want to thank all of you for bringing issues forward as they present themselves and allowing us to work on demanding management creating a safe and healthy workplace. So far, while there has been occasional isolated disagreement, it has been resolved through our discussions with management.
Personal Protective Equipment Face Coverings
The following was messaged to us by the Industrial Relations Department from the National APWU Vance Zimmerman May 14th, 2020
“The Postal Service has begun issuing reusable/washable (five each) cloth face coverings to employees. These masks are in addition to the disposable surgical masks that are being issued. Each employee has the option to use the cloth face coverings, the disposable surgical masks, or a mask they procure on their own (See Stand Up Talk dated April 21, 2020). Management should not have stopped issuing the surgical masks due to the fact they have the cloth masks.
If any employee has a medical reason that they cannot wear a normal surgical or cloth face covering, they can provide documentation to the local OHNA for review and a plastic face shield will be provided to the employee.”
I believe, as the St. Paul Area Local President, from the best information available masks are an important tool to help in the transmission of this virus. While I do not believe it will stop it altogether, I believe it does help. Please think about wearing these face coverings while working closely with co-workers if we all work together. I believe we can positively impact each other.
Cleaning and Disinfectants in the Facilities
It has been messaged to the Union; Management has now obtained the necessary supplies to ensure all facilities have at least a three day supply of the needed chemicals to protect our employees. Your Manager or Postmasters are required to log each day the amount they have on hand and request supplies when they begin to run low. If you are experiencing shortages in supplies and they are not being made available within you work areas, please contact the Union so we can bring immediate attention to this issue. The Union has been able to help when these issues have been brought forward. Again, the message is working together by communicating needs is necessary for us to demand proper safety and health guidelines are being followed.
Let’s continue to look out for ourselves and co-workers to help each other in this challenging time. We are better together at protecting ourselves and fellow workers.