Focusing on mitigating the impact of COVID-19
Message from the President

Last week the World Health Organization officially classified the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local County Health agencies keep reporting increases in the number of individuals testing positive for the disease. Last week, Governor Evers declared it a health emergency. Starting March 18, state K-12 schools will be closed through April 6, events are being cancelled, worship services are moving online and Universities are extended spring break in preparation for coursework to be completed online. 

These precautions will not halt the spread of the virus. But they are intended to flatten the exposure rate so that health facilities will have capacity to treat those most ill when that treatment is most needed.

Worksites are a key ingredient to producing that outcome. This local is especially mindful of the diverse scope of work members and non-members perform for a wide range of employers in several different industries in various locations. What we all have in common is our reliance on a steady income, reliable health insurance and fair sick leave policies to help us provide for ourselves and our families. 
Local 39 has been in contact with our major employers to assist in developing plans to mitigate the impacts of this highly contagious virus as we work together to slow the spread of the disease. 

We have expressed our expectation that mitigation plans associated with COVID-19 must include workforce provisions that provide:
  • Relief for loss of income
  • Coverage for related testing and health care
  • Additional paid time off to deal with matters associated with the outbreak, including sick days, childcare and care giving.  

As a Union, our concern will always be for the health and well-being of all employees. We believe these steps will help ensure equitable treatment by removing financial and circumstantial barriers, so everyone can assuredly follow precautionary guidelines and seek appropriate care.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease)

What is COVID-19? COVID-19 is the disease caused by a virus strain that began spreading in people in December 2019. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new respiratory virus, and it can cause severe illness and...

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Stay up to date and heed warnings on COVID-19
Wisconsin has now seen multiple confirmed cases of COVID-19. With more testing facilities online, expect to see even more cases. The main way COVID-19 is spread to others is by an infected person coughing or sneezing, allowing others near them to breathe in the droplets. The virus also remains on surfaces, so it can spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it and then touches their mouth, face or eyes.

This is an evolving situation, so it’s important to stay informed, heed the warnings and take immediate steps to slow the spread of the virus.  The Department of Health Services COVID-19 website can help you stay up to date on the latest developments. 

Meantime, DHS joins with a chorus of preventative health experts asking everyone to practice basic hygiene, like washing hands with soap and water, coughing into a sleeve or tissue, and staying home if sick.
Covid 19 reveals inequities of IT work
COVID-19 is forcing many employers to enhance employee health and safety plans to align with CDC guidelines designed to prevent and deal with exposure. That includes encouraging employees to work remotely and paying for sick leave so that loss of income does not become a barrier for those without paid leave to stay home when they are ill. 

But when Tech giant Google gave orders to its workforce to work off site and extended paid leave to cover illness, they unwittingly unmasked a growing disparity among workers in IT. In, “Corona virus divides tech workers into the ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ sick”, (see sidebar) Guardian contributor, Julia Carrie Wong uncovers what the pandemic is really saying about how differently outsourced workers can be treated by the contractors they work for. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has shone an unforgiving light on the social architecture that has both contributed to the tech industries incredible wealth – and allowed large numbers of people to be left vulnerable. That workers like those at Google’s Pittsburg office are falling through the cracks is no accident – their vulnerability is part of the incredibly lucrative design.” -- Wong
Coronavirus divides tech workers into the 'worthy' and...

When Josh Borden arrived for work at the Google offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday morning, it felt like arriving in a "ghost town". The parking lot was deserted, there was no breakfast being served in the cafeteria, and the nap...

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Kathryn Bartlett-Mulvihill: Beware the undertow of...

That's an important point that extends beyond the confines of the CUNA Mutual campus or the employees our local represents. It should cause us as a community to start asking some hard questions about where all of this might lead.

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Beware the undertow of outsourcing
American Family Insurance announced last month that it was going to outsource 200 IT jobs in Madison to an IT staffing company located in France. Beyond a few headlines and stories on the evening news, that announcement didn’t get much attention. But it’s that lack of attention, that got ours.

Beware the undertow of outsourcing” by OPEIU President Kathryn Bartlett-Mulvihill, recently appeared in both the online and print editions of The Cap Times. Using CUNA Mutual Group’s steady shift from regular employees to using on demand contacted service workers as an example, she shines a light on how widespread and large these unseen trends in outsourcing actually are and raises important questions about how the practice is impacting jobs, careers and the local community. 

“How committed can an employer be to investing in the local community when it detaches itself from hiring decisions, retention plans and caring about where talent comes from or resides?

“What happens to newly established registered IT apprenticeship programs and candidates when companies have no need, ability or interest to create career opportunities in that manner?

“And, what happens to community-based programming designed to help folks get the training and support necessary to gain family sustaining jobs when outsourcing creates fewer and fewer work opportunities with local companies for local residents?” – Bartlett-Mulvihill
See something? Say something!
  • Have you been asked to train or perform duties outside your job description, and it just didn’t feel right? 
  • Ever notice a contractor/temp move department to department cycling from one short term assignment to the next? 
  • Has a contractor assumed duties in your department that you thought should have been done in-house? 
  • Has a contractor been used to backfill a position or expand your project team when you thought it should have been filled by yourself or a co-worker? 

To anyone interested in maintaining the integrity of the contract, these questions deserve answers. But first they need to be asked. That’s where members are key. Each and every workday, you are the eyes and ears of the contract. Without your vigilance, our work and work rules can become so blurred they might eventually disappear. So, if you see something – say something to a Steward. They are there to follow-up and ensure the contract is fairly and faithfully followed. 
Unions = Gym Membership
Upcoming Membership Meetings
Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of each quarter, at 5:30PM at the Union Office, 701 Watson Dr, Madison.

May 20, 2020
August 19, 2020
November 18, 2020
February 17, 2021

This is your Union. Your participation shapes how this Union works -- or doesn't. Join us.