Dear Fellow Executive Branch Employees,
We’re doing everything in our power to protect you, your family and all Maine people during this coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
On March 2, we began reaching out to the Mills administration and the Maine Bureau of Human Resources about COVID-19. We asked the administration to ensure leave time is available for state workers to help them solve the many kinds of problems the virus is creating for the workforce, families and public health. Specifically, we asked the administration to take the following measures:
• Provide additional leave to all employees to ensure everyone has adequate time to seek medical help should they become infected, care for loved ones, provide childcare, or self-isolate;
• Loosen restrictions on leave time so they can be used more flexibly in response to COVID-19;
• Immediately prepare all possible positions for tele-working, and to release those staff who can, to work from home;
• Ensure that no employee loses pay or healthcare coverage during this crisis;
• Release all non-essential state workers.
We’re encouraged that the administration has stated its intent to make more flexible use of sick leave available in response to COVID-19. We’re also encouraged that departmental commissioners are preparing plans to implement social distancing for state workers. But these actions are insufficient to protect the safety of our members and the public.
As one of Maine’s largest employers, the State of Maine should lead by example to protect the public health and the state workforce. The State of Maine should make a priority of minimizing the COVID-19 exposure risks of Maine’s emergency-service providers so they are best positioned to care for Mainers in need and so Maine’s precious medical resources aren’t overwhelmed.
We’ve formally asked the Mills administration to immediately close non-essential services of Maine State Government. We believe this is necessary to protect the health and safety not just of all state workers, their families and the general public but also to reduce the likelihood of Maine’s first responders, public health workers and other emergency responders becoming exposed to COVID-19.
We have heard from many of you with questions about COVID-19 and your work as state employees. We have compiled this list of Questions-and-Answers as a starting point and we will update as we get more information and reach further agreements with the administration.
There are likely many more questions that you and your coworkers may have. We’ve created this form to be able to track and respond to the issues and concerns of all of the workers we represent.
Your safety is paramount. We’re also encouraging MSEA-SEIU members to cancel MSEA-SEIU chapter meetings, outings and other events wherever possible. We’ve canceled our 2020 MSEA-SEIU Retirees Day because of the outbreak. Please refer to these official websites for the latest, updated info and guidance from state and federal authorities:
• The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention will regularly update this web page with the latest info and guidance about the coronavirus outbreak.
• The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is updating this web page with its latest info and guidance.
Beware that scammers might be trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak; this link contains official guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on “Defending Against COVID-19 Cyber Scams.”
For updated info, follow MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
Without a cure, solidarity is the only way to combat this disease. We must continue to work to “flatten the curve” so our sisters and brothers providing emergency services can have a fighting chance.
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989