Thursday, April 2, 2020
I hope everyone is adjusting to the COVID-19 way of life and doing everything possible to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. For now that is our best way of beating it. These are stressful times for most of our members since your jobs are so critical to everyday life, without you the doctors and nurses would not be able to treat their patients the way they do today.
The men and woman that report to work out in the field or in the Plants every day and have the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus even after taking all precautions, should be recognized and thanked by everyone for the work that they are doing. This work includes, supplying electricity from the Power Plants (Beaver Valley, Cheswick & Brunot Island) or being ready to operate when called upon. This includes all Operations, Maintenance and Clerical departments. The members working at Duquesne Light are vital in keeping the electric flowing to homes, hospitals and grocery stores along with other essential businesses. The line crews and Trouble Shooters are the most visible to the public but there are many groups that make the meters turn and all are just as important, such as Underground, Substations, the Supply Chain, Operations Center, Customer Service and many others. The members from Port Authority and People's Gas are also still reporting to work under stressful conditions. (I hope I didn't forget any groups, if I did, I'm sure we will hear about it, so we apologize in advance for anyone that was missed)
We have some members that are able to work a modified schedule which is needed for childcare or eldercare affected by the virus. These modified schedules are also helpful in keeping employees separated from larger groups. Different reporting locations have also been used when possible in this fight against the virus.
While we have many members that are still working out in the field, some members have the ability to work from home and for the most part the different Companies have stepped up and have taken advantage of this to limit their exposure. Without going into details, some companies have done more than others in setting members up from home, other companies don't have that ability due to their work systems. We continue to push the companies that are doing as little as possible and are hopeful that they will be more proactive in protecting their employees ASAP.
We have worked with all the companies in trying to balance the work that needs to be done but at the same time protecting our members. We have signed off on a number of MOU's (Memorandum Of Understanding) which has helped pave the way for modified schedules, employees to be able to work from home, and time off with pay to care for children or elders, this has benefited us and the companies. The MOU's have all been agreed to for the right reasons but not all have gotten the right results and for that we accept full responsibility. Although it was a good MOU for those who went home on reserve status, it did nothing for the ones still here doing the work, for that we apologize, and we continue to fight for improvements for all members.
Each of the companies we have contracts with have taken different approaches on how to deal with this pandemic, one was aggressive and very proactive in trying to get out ahead of it to minimize the spread of the virus through the workforce, other companies were in denial that it was anything more than the flu, but have since taken measures that will help, another is doing as little as possible up to this point as we continue to push for improvements. Every company has hard decisions to make on how to handle the problem we face, and we will continue to push them to do what is best for all our members.
Companies will continue to assess and make changes as needed depending on the severity of the virus in our area, and we as a union will continue to push for the protection of our members every day. These are difficult times, but we will get through this period that will be remembered forever in history that each one of you is a part of and can make a difference in the outcome of COVID-19.
Be proactive in making sure your supervisor is following proper protocol in regard to your health and safety, no member is expendable and remember your family's safety depends on you doing everything possible to not bring the virus home.
Please stay focused while working, always maintain social distancing and during this time take extra precautions to stay injury free since this is a very bad time to go to any hospital. God bless you and your families.