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COVID-19 UPDATE! - (3/17/2020)

Good morning brothers and sisters,

In an effort to keep our membership up to date on activities taking place to combat the COVID-19 virus, we will continue to send daily communication letting everyone know what direction we are receiving from the UA, Colorado State agencies, and the Federal government.  Please see the below updates, if you need any clarification on any of the below information please contact the hall by phone or email.  Stay safe brothers and sisters, exercise common sense, and we will persevere together. 

 

Update on Employee Best Practices, and work being done by CDLE

There are still a lot of outstanding questions about paid sick leave and long-term leave (for contracting COVID-19 or being quarantined).  Coverage varies by industry in the state's emergency rules.  Coverage varies by size of business in HR 6201 (the federal government's emergency bill).  The federal bill has only passed the House so far but a Senate vote is expected soon.  Note that it does not take effect for 15 days after passage.  Here is a fact sheet from a Better Balance which summarizes the federal bill.

For the State of Colorado Emergency Rules - they have more clarification HERE on the CDLE website. These ONLY apply if you are out of sick leave or your business does not offer sick leave. It is not in addition to your sick leave package. It also only applies to two situations: 1) you have flu-like symptom 2) are being tested. Ironically, the exhaustion of paid leave is not the requirement in the federal law being considered.  These sick days would be an addition to your current sick leave.

In talking with CDLE on Friday, if your business is closed due to COVID-19, you need to apply for unemployment insurance.  CDLE is working on getting a waiver from the feds for the one-week wait required.  If you acquire the illness at your place of work, you need to apply for workers' compensation.

 

Additional Executive Order from Governor Polis

 

Gov. Polis Provides an Update on State’s Response to COVID-19

Governor Launches #DoingMyPartCO Digital Push to Encourage Coloradans

 to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

 

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19. The Governor also announced the launch of a social media push to encourage Coloradans to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The digital campaign is called #DoingMyPartCO

 

“Doing right by our fellow Coloradans is about more than just protecting our health care system, health care workers, and our most vulnerable populations. Science tells us that doing good deeds helps our own mental health, which will continue to be a challenge for Coloradans in the weeks ahead,” said Governor Polis. “It’s not going to be easy, but the more seriously we take this public health emergency, the better we can weather the storm and get through this crisis with as little damage as possible.”

 

The Governor continued to reiterate the goal of flattening the curve to stop the spread of this virus. The Governor announced that tomorrow CDPHE will open a testing site outside Telluride in partnership with San Miguel County. This testing site will serve about 100 high-risk patients who have been pre-selected by area health care providers as a priority for being tested. The site will not accept walk-up or drive-up patients. 

 

The state of Colorado is amplifying support for communities across the state and increasing testing capabilities in mountain communities. This is why today Colorado welcomed 50 nurses dedicated to help with the state’s COVID-19 response. This effort was made possible from a portion of the $3 million from the Disaster Emergency Fund ordered in Gov. Polis Executive Order. The Governor continued to encourage Coloradans to engage in aggressive social distancing measures.

 

The state issued a public health order on the temporary suspension of dine-in service at restaurants and bars. The public health order is effective March 17, 2020 at 8:00 a.m., and for the next 30 days closes brewpubs, breweries, microbreweries, distillery pubs, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, public bars, taverns, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, Cigar bars, gyms, gymnasiums, theaters, casinos, movie and performance theaters, opera houses, concert halls, and music halls, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption. These places are encouraged to offer food and beverage using a delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. 

The restrictions imposed by this order do not apply to any of the following:  Places of public accommodation that offer food and beverage not for on-premises consumption, including grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores, and food pantries, Room service in hotels, Health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities; Crisis shelters or similar institutions; Food courts inside the secured zones of airports; and any emergency facilities necessary for the response to these events.

Read the public health order here

Colorado’s Unemployment Insurance Division is responding to questions from both employers and workers impacted by closures as a result of the Coronavirus. Employees who see a reduction in hours or layoffs are encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits, which can provide partial wage replacement, at https://www.colorado.gov/cdle/unemployment

Employers may also be eligible for programs to avoid layoffs like Colorado’s Work Share program, which allows employers to split the cost to retain employees with Unemployment Insurance.

We know that we will need extra staff to contend with a surge in cases in the very near future. The state’s jobs database - ConnectingColorado.com - will continue to post listings for statewide jobs available.

The Governor also announced DMVs and all DOR facilities will be closed to the public for one month from March 18 - April 18. But many operations and processes will continue.

All state driver license offices will be closed to the public but will continue to process online license and ID renewals and other DMV online services. Those that cannot complete renewals online are encouraged to call the DMV call center at 303-205-5600, which is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Coloradans specifically seeking CO-RCSA services or information should call 303-205-2335. Customers who have appointments will need to reschedule them once normal operations resume but are encouraged to try the many online services available at https://mydmv.colorado.gov/_/

The Governor provided the public and parents with an update that the Colorado Department of Education has received a waiver from the US Dept. of Agriculture to continue serving free and reduced meals to our students while schools are closed.

The Governor announced the launch of the Doing My Part CO digital campaign where the Governor and the administration are encouraging folks to do the right thing and share it on social media with the hashtag #DoingMyPartCO and challenging five friends to do the same. For example, challenging people on social media to share photos and videos of practicing proper hygiene and social distancing, or getting groceries or medicine for an elderly neighbor. 

 

Update from General President Mark McManus

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

I am writing to provide an update on our plans for the operation of UA HQ in light of COVID-19. 

Effective tomorrow, March 17, 2020, and through March 31, 2020, UA officers and employees will be working remotely.  During this time, GST Kellett, AGP Pleasant and I will rotate in and out of the office on a daily basis with a maximum of three or four other essential personnel.  At the end of March, we will reassess where we are and make the appropriate adjustments.

Ultimately, we have to follow the recommendations of the experts at the CDC, including their recommendation to avoid gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.  Rest assured that the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund, the Local Union Officers Pension Plan, O’Donoghue & O’Donoghue—and every other UA department and related office—is equipped to work remotely.  Phone calls, texts and emails will all be forwarded to the appropriate people, and our officers and staff are focused on making sure that important business of the UA continues to be done.

We have cancelled a number of UA meetings and events, including, most recently, the UA Apprenticeship Contest for 2020.  All travel by UA officers and staff is suspended until May 1, 2020, at which point we will evaluate whether an extension of that suspension is appropriate.

Your health, and that of your members, families and neighbors, has also been at the forefront of our minds here in Annapolis.  For that reason, we ask you to consider cancelling all union meetings, conferences and conventions and apprenticeship schools in the months of March, April and May.  Those of you with nominations and elections in May and June will receive guidance on that front from me in due course.  

I have no doubt that we will eventually defeat this virus. Until we do, however, please continue to listen to the CDC as well as your Mayors and Governors, so that the decisions you are making for your local union offices, JATCs, funds, and members are informed by the latest, expert information.

We will continue to correspond with each of you about the developing challenges presented by this virus, and the steps that you, I and the rest of the UA community can take to meet them. 

Fraternally,

Mark McManus


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