Local 201 COVID-19 Update - GE Riverworks

May 21, 2020

Local 201 COVID-19 Update - GE Riverworks

The Union and the Company have met to discuss the new regulations from the state of MA regarding manufacturing facilities (available here: https://www.mass.gov/lists/safety-standards-for-manufacturing) and our ongoing safety concerns.  We are awaiting response on several proposals and will keep you updated.  For now:

Social Distancing:

The Union encourages everyone to maintain safe social distance at all times, and immediately seek Union representation if you are directed by Management to compromise safe social distancing practices.  In order to be compliant with the law, the Company must make certain accommodations to ensure safe social distancing. If you cannot maintain social distancing due to the location of your workstation, bring it to the attention of EHS and a Union rep.   

Face Covering’s and Masks:

The State now requires workers in manufacturing facilities to wear a face covering. This policy will take effect at the Riverworks Monday May 25th.  The Company should be responsible for providing masks and face coverings.  The Union made it clear that the one-time dispersal of the one ply brown cloth face coverings were inferior in quality and clearly unpopular – as most people wearing masks and face coverings visibly prefer masks or higher quality face coverings.  As of now the Company has no intention of supplying more cloth face coverings.  Masks will remain available through EHS and your cell leader, so ask for one if you need one. Some people might be unable to wear a mask, respect privacy.

Hand Sanitizer and Hand Washing Breaks

According to the Company, 500 16oz bottles of hand sanitizer have been distributed.  Pumps to refill sanitizer stations have arrived. Every member on every shift should have access to hand sanitizer in addition to soap and water hand washing stations. MA State regulation requires sufficient break time for workers to wash hands frequently. 

Sanitation and Disinfecting

The Union continues to demand increased cleaning and sanitization between the shifts. We feel the new regulations mandate increased cleaning including but not limited to frequency, scope, and staffing levels.  We will reconvene once the Company has gone through our proposals.  

Reporting Unsafe Conditions

Notify Safety Reps and your cell leaders about any safety concerns.  If you feel management is not responding to safety issues the Attorney Generals Office has created a new online complaint form: https://www.mass.gov/forms/report-unsafe-working-conditions-during-covid-19 specifically for employees to report unsafe working conditions related to COVID-19 or call 617-727-3465 to report concerns. Workers can file complaints or report concerns anonymously.

COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations

As of last Monday, May 18th the stay at home advisory was replaced with a “safer at home” advisory.  According to the Governor, those at high risk for COVID-19 – such as people over the age of 65 and people who have underlying health conditions – should continue to stay home except for essential activities.

GE has agreed to offer approval for excused unpaid absence on a case by case basis.  People with COVID-19 related issues like childcare, underlying conditions for you or member of household, may request excused unpaid absence. If you do end up taking excused unpaid time off, make sure you stay in regular contact with your supervisor.  You should apply for unemployment by calling 617-626-6800 or going to https://www.mass.gov/unemployment-insurance-ui-online.  Call the Union Hall with issues or questions: 781-598-2760.

Safety is our RIGHT

From the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Union has fought for the right to work safely.  If the Company fails to provide safe working conditions it jeopardizes members, our families, and our job security. We want to work, but want to do it safely. We want to keep work in the plant, and the best way to do that is to fight for safety and against outsourcing.  As we continue to work during this pandemic remember that under the Union negotiated Riverworks Safety Understanding you have the right to refuse unsafe work pending a review of your Union Safety rep. Stay safe.

In Solidarity,