March 25 update: Our response to COVID-19

Dear Fellow State Employees,

Your emails to your state legislators and Governor Mills about the urgent need to protect state workers from COVID-19 have helped expedite the transition to telework for many state employees.

We continue pressing the administration on the need to get as many of you who can telework to be working from home immediately, and for any nonessential state employees who cannot telework to be released from work, with pay. This is a matter of highest urgency; this morning, the Maine DHHS office in Lewiston was closed, with the workers in the building sent home, after a worker who was last in the office on March 20 tested positive for COVID-19.

Yesterday we filed a class-action grievance on behalf of workers in all four of our Executive Branch bargaining units in support of state workers during the COVID-19 outbreak. We demanded the State immediately take these actions to keep state workers safe from COVID-19:

•    Inform employees of potential exposure to individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including but not limited to coworkers, clients and members of the public;

•    Immediately close any worksites where such individuals have been and thoroughly decontaminate such worksites consistent with federal CDC-specified cleaning techniques and pay all displaced employees administrative leave for the duration of the closure;

•    Place any employee who has been exposed to such individuals on administrative leave, with pay, for a two-week period of self-quarantine;

•    In the event that any employee falls ill following their workplace exposure to COVID-19, place the employee on administrative leave for the duration of their illness and recovery time, and pay any and all costs associated with their medical treatment and/or quarantine period.

We want to hear from you! If you have concerns or questions, tell us using this official MSEA-SEIU survey form. We especially need to hear from you if you believe you can telework but are being denied the opportunity to do so by your supervisor.

All public employees will have access to expanded to additional leave related to COVID-19 as of April 1. We’re urging the administration to immediately implement the provisions of the new federal law requiring the state to grant everyone 80 hours of sick leave and not wait until the April 2 deadline. Under that law, employees are eligible for an additional 80 hours of paid sick leave, which can only be used in certain circumstances relating to COVID-19, including if the employee is subject to a quarantine order, has been instructed to self-quarantine, has symptoms and is seeking diagnosis, or is caring for someone who is quarantined, self-quarantined or has symptoms and is seeking diagnosis. Additionally, it applies if the employee has a child who is unable to go to school or daycare due to COVID-19. This leave may not be at full pay, depending on the reason for the leave. Another law expanded access to Family Medical Leave to provide partially paid leave for employees caring for a child under 18 who is unable to go to school or daycare due to COVID-19.

We know many of you are dealing with the challenges of teleworking and providing for your families, particularly those with school-age children. We’ve compiled this list of COVID-19 Solidarity and Hardship Resources; it includes childcare options for essential employees.

Your State Employee Health Insurance:

•    Relating to the State Employee Health Insurance Plan: Due to COVID-19, the Office of Employee Health and Benefits announced it will be extending the Health Premium Credit Program through September 30, 2020. Employee Health and Benefits will maintain the Health Premium Credit effective 7/1/19 for all health plan members currently receiving the credit until September 30, 2020. This will allow employees who have not had the opportunity to obtain their health numbers or vision visits to meet the criteria for the 2020 Health Premium Credit Program. Employees who have completed the Health Premium Credit through 11:59 pm on April 30, 2020, will receive the credit effective July 1, 2020.

•    Anthem has provided these Coronavirus COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for participants in the State Employee Health Insurance Plan.

Stay informed:
•    Our Frequently Asked Questions; we’re updating it regularly.
•    Our website
•    Facebook
•    Instagram
•    twitter
•    Contact the MSEA-SEIU staff
•    Contact the MSEA-SEIU Board of Directors
•    Contact the MSEA-SEIU Officers

We’ll follow up with new developments.

In Solidarity,
Dean Staffieri
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

Updated: March 27, 2020 — 3:50 PM