This message is being delivered at a time of crisis. I want to wish you all the best, especially our members that have tested positive for COVID-19. We understand what a challenge this must be to them and their families. As of today at PSEG, 14 employees have tested positive; 4 of those 14 are our members. A few have been hospitalized. The numbers are changing by the hour, and tough days still lie ahead. We are thinking of you and your families, and your health and safety is our number one priority. As far as we know, there are no confirmed positive cases at other Local 94 employers. If that changes, we are prepared to handle it accordingly.
We are regularly on conference calls with the company, both gas and electric every day, including weekends. They give updates on employees who are self-quarantined because of past travel protocol, employees who are quarantined due to exposure with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as those who themselves have tested positive. The company has done an excellent job with this communication of vital information.
Our union office remains open, however effective today, I have implemented a mandatory reduced staff. We have a cleaning service coming in, and are restricting and limiting the flow of people in and out of the office, in compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders issued on Saturday. If you have a question or a problem, please call first. Don’t just show up. Social distancing is still the name of the game, and we are trying our best to flatten the curve that will inevitably save lives.
Yesterday, along with other union leaders in the NJ AFL-CIO, I was on the phone with Governor Murphy, who classified all of us at Local 94 as essential employees. With that, we all have gainful employment. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of our neighbors lost their jobs in this recession, and the future looks bleak for them. We have gone through great lengths to ensure we have jobs. When we need to roll with the changes, it’s important to do so. That may mean that if any new PPE’s are required, we must comply. Since we are an essential workforce, we can’t just stay home and get paid. I can’t express this to you enough. Where jobs permit, we have made agreements for members to work from home, and we continue to discuss other options to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order’s.
I have had frequent phone conversations with other utility unions in the IBEW’s Third District. As of the time of this email, no local has had members file for unemployment. We are proud of that fact during these uncertain times. Please do not create a situation that will change that, especially to the newer members who have not worked through a crisis yet. Fit yourself for the PPE’s and let’s get the job done the IBEW way!
I have also brought to the Governor’s attention to other issues in deeming our members essential at all of our facilities. Members at Generating facilities, CoGen’s, and our Line Clearance Tree Trimmers. Unlike other states who are practicing isolation management, Governor Murphy has assured us he will do everything in his power to keep union members working.
We are in continuous discussions with our respective employers, looking out for you. I am so proud of you all for doing an outstanding job. There is so much fear and anxiety out there now, but as you keep calm and carry on, your actions and the way you conduct yourself in the public eye gives our community a sense of hope that eventually, things will get back to normal. Work safe and Godspeed, Local 94.