Update #5 on COVID-19 Discussions with GE Lynn


Update #5 on COVID-19 Discussions with GE Lynn

March 19, 2020. 5:00pm

Talks with GE are not going well.  The GE Riverworks Plant in Lynn is currently an unsafe working environment.

The Company’s response to those that have medical conditions that make the virus even more dangerous are told to use their vacation and sick time and file a short-term disability claim if they require more time out.

Those of us with households that have at risk people, GE says use vacation and sick time if you are concerned. If you run out of time and need more, GE might not write you up for missing work (Company discretion), but won’t pay you.

We have members home with fever.  We have members with family at home with fever.  Testing has been hard to get, and we worry about them.  HR has told people in this situation, if you don’t have a diagnosis – it’s a good idea to stay home. Use sick time, use vacation time, then go unpaid.

Having childcare issues? Schools and daycares are closed.  GE says use your vacation and sick time. If you run out GE might not write you up, its at Company discretion. If you need more time, GE says ask them for PERMISSION to take care of YOUR KIDS, and we may not write you up (Company discretion) but GE won’t pay you.

There are 1262 Local 201 members in the Riverworks.  305 of them are over 60 years old. Recent reports say younger and younger people are now being hospitalized. Many people have or live in households with people immunocompromised.  Including diabetes, heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure, pregnancy, COPD, auto immune disease, the list goes on. Many people cannot afford reduced pay or unpaid time off (when Company discretion allows it). 

The Company says social distance.  Some of our workstations are closer than 6 ft apart. We use the same tools, run machines back to back, handle carboard boxes, touch metal surfaces, punch the same time clocks, and there is no systematic sanitization to speak of. 

Reports come in frequently about soap or paper towels running out in some bathrooms.  The Company says they fix it as fast as possible.  How do we wash hands in the meantime? Do whatever you have to do to wash hands often.

Members frequently report they can’t reach HR reps. HR is likely swarmed because they are dealing with a GLOBAL PANDEMIC on a “case by case” basis?  Waiting 2 days for a return phone call from HR?  You’re not alone.  Some members with medical issues may qualify for disability.  Some members may qualify for MA expanded Unemployment Insurance Benefits, for example if you have left work because your child’s school or child-care center has closed. Where is the guidance from HR? There simply is not enough time to take this on a case by case basis.

We need a Company wide policy of at least 14 days paid additional sick leave, right now, just to keep people safe.  14 days paid sick leave RIGHT NOW is the best chance we have of getting ahead of transmission of this virus, and give us the time to work with the Company to figure out how to make the plant safe. The current situation demands immediate action. The Company has not changed its position, shame on them.

GE says employee safety is their number 1 priority.  They may still have a small window of time to prove that’s true. This pandemic is spreading throughout our area. Everything around us is different as restaurants are closed, small businesses closed, reduction or elimination of public transportation schedules. All Day Care centers and schools are closed.  No groups over 25. Business as usual is unacceptable. 

 - Local 201 E-Board -