To all the workers on the front lines: thank you!
Thank you to the essential workers everywhere, especially those in health care, grocery workers, and all forms of transportation, including maritime transportation. They deserve our special recognition as everyday workers and members who are risking everything, their own personal safety and the safety of their families, to treat the disease and maintain the supply chains of sustenance during the crisis. Doing it day after day, on the front lines without proper PPE, is not what built into the contract, not what you would expect of the average worker. But it is second-nature and standard procedure for an SUP professional and American patriot.
Thank you too for staying at home when it feels like you are doing nothing. In fact you are facing down the boredom that can be as challenging as facing down danger. In fact you are staying healthy, ready to step up and relieve your Union brothers and sisters when the time comes. Doing that preserves our readiness and maintains the freedom and democracy of our entire hiring hall system. Thank you.
Thank you for the additional work, for the additional precautions and limitations. Thank you for taking on more despite the potential exposure, and delivering the goods so that so many others can live better and with less hazard.
Thank you for the long hours, for making more with less, and against all odds for making safety out of risk. You are all heroes and deserve our highest recgonition, our sincere thanks, and deep appreciation.
On March 18, 2020, transportation labor including the SUP joined to set forth our principles in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Access the position statement here in this letter to Congress signed by the Union presidents.
On this Workers' Memorial Day we are also taking action in Washington through our affiliation with the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. We are pressing for passage of HR 6559 which would create a single emergency temporary standard of a variety of worker protections against COVID-19 in the workplace. Below is a letter from the TTD President Larry Willis to House members on the topic.
April 28, 2020
Give Frontline Essential Workers the Federal Support They Deserve
Cosponsor H.R. 6559, the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act
Every year on April 28th, we pause to commemorate Worker’s Memorial Day and to remember and honor those who have been killed or seriously injured on the job. This day has particular poignancy this year, as millions of essential workers put themselves in harm’s way and continue to do their jobs in order to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why, on behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our 33 affiliated unions, I urge you to cosponsor H.R. 6559, the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020, which would require the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to promulgate an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus.
All across our country, millions of transportation workers are among those who have been bravely doing their part to see our country through this disaster. They have driven the buses and trains that bring health care workers and patients alike to medical facilities. They have kept our skies open and operating in order to deliver goods and supplies quickly across the country. They have kept our supply chain running, crewing, loading and unloading commercial ships, and operating and maintaining the freight rail network that connects communities from coast to coast. They have helped keep our federal, state, and local governments operating and serving the public good. In fact, if you look at the guidance issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), every single union in the TTD family represents essential workers who go to work every day knowing they are putting themselves and their families at risk in order to serve the public good.
Unfortunately, these workers are being let down by their federal government. There is no basic regulatory framework that comprehensively addresses an employer’s responsibility to protect their employees from infectious disease. As a result, measures that have been proven to save lives, including full deployment of personal protective equipment (PPE), adequate cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and policies to ensure social distancing in the workplace have not been universally mandated or implemented. Instead, employees have been left with vague unenforceable guidelines that do not address sector specific or vocation specific risks and protective needs. An ETS is a vital and necessary step that the federal government can and must take to help protect workers and their families from occupational exposure to COVID-19.
OSHA could act on its own and issue an ETS today, but so far they have refused to take action. Unfortunately, the administration’s recalcitrance – even as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has soared past 1 million and the deaths approach 60,000 – has made Congressional action necessary. Not only will H.R. 6559 help protect essential workers right now, it will prove vital as our country begins to reopen. Even a modest expansion of economic activity and increased social interactions will add passengers and density to a transportation system that cannot protect workers under current limited demand. We can only do this safely if enhanced protective measures are in place.
The frontline workers that TTD unions represent are proud to do their part to see our country through this public health and economic crisis. But it is simply unacceptable that they continue to do so without the federal protections that they need to stay safe on the job. As a country we cannot confront this pandemic with half-measures and voluntary, vague guidance that fails to reflect the seriousness of the situation. I urge you to cosponsor H.R. 6559 and pass it into law. Our nation’s essential workers deserve nothing less.
Larry I. Willis
Please see the following guides and guidelines for more on coronavirus safety and SUP hiring hall operations:
Although this guidance is focused on cruise ship crews and related to the no sail order, it contains a lot of practical guidance on the full range of mitigation issues.
This is a useful and accurate guide that can be read and absorbed quickly.
CDC guidelines: Basic steps to protect yourself
Clean your hands often
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
Maintain at least 6 feet distance from other people whenever possible. Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Take steps to protect others
Stay home if you’re sick
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a facemask if you are sick or if required by local orders.
If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Despite initial advice to the contrary, health experts now advise that mask or face coverings can provide some incremental protection. Some jurisdictions, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, now require their use.
Clean and disinfect
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection
Check out the full range of CDC analysis and response here: CDC COVID 19 prevention guidelines
SUP hiring hall operations guidelines during coronavirus
As described in the President's Report of the March issue of the West Coast Sailors, and authorized by the membership, the Union is taking the appropriate steps to both safeguard members and maintain our the continuity of operations. Much of it is basic best practices of the type described above. Additionally, the union is engaged in the following activities:
Self-quarantine measures: any member who has returned to the United States from one of the World Health Organization’s affected countries or “hotspots” of the outbreak is required to maintain a 14-day self-quarantine. Any member who is, in any case, exhibiting symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) must maintain a 14-day self-quarantine until free of such symptoms.
Remote service: During this period phone registration for shipping is acceptable in all Halls according to the normal rules (during the Port’s registration window, sequentially by call, etc.)
Ship visits: limited to an as-needed basis as individually approved by the President. Delegates are urged to maintain email and phone contact with agents and grievances will be handled according to normal shore-based procedures.
Best practice safety: Members and agents are instructed and authorized to use and enforce all safety and health best practices including but not limited to the self-quarantine measures above; reducing unnecessary numbers of people in gatherings, routine procedures, and job calls; practicing radical social distancing; frequent washing hands/use of sanitizer; cleaning and sanitizing on a daily basis; posting safe behavior information sheets; keeping contact to a minimum.
Risk Mitigation Measures
The Union also adopted several temporary measures in support of safety and continued hiring hall operations based on the recommendations of Emergency Committees convened under the SUP Constitution. Here is the outcome in memo form of both the March regular and emergency meetings:
M E M O R A N D U M
March 15, 2020
To: SUP Members and Agents
From: Dave Connolly, President
Re: Hiring hall operations update during coronavirus
As part of our ongoing coronavirus emergency response, and as authorized by the membership at the March regular and emergency meetings, be advised of the following hiring hall adjustments for safe operations:
- Union halls will remain open for essential business. Essential business is mainly job calls and dispatch purposes only. Registration and dues payment may be considered essential business, but members will register one at a time at the Branch or HQ designated time and only if phone or electronic registration is impossible.
- Union halls are closed to non-essential business. Supplemental Benefit or vacation applications, registration by phone, dues payments by check or money order, medical clinic dispatch, credential advisory services are all normal Union business activities that can and should be done remotely. The interior spaces of SUP halls are closed to visitors, members socializing, or members with business that can be handled electronically or over the phone.
- Union halls are not for congregation during the emergency. Members must arrive and depart the Halls shortly before and directly after job call. Attendance at job call is for the purpose of gaining work only: non-essential congregation is inappropriate as per the guidance of health experts. Job calls and job call periods may be limited. Branch agents are authorized to take necessary steps to protect the safety of members.
We will avoid congregation as a matter of health, safety, and Union strength. Thank you for your understanding and assistance in maintaining the continuous safe operation of our hiring hall system. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me.
Like the Union, the SUP Welfare Plan and related trusts remain open on a limited basis, and subject to social distancing rules. For more detail see the related documents on the Welfare Plan page of this site.
Local Orders and Social Distancing Protocols
The SUP is also complying with all local, state and federal orders including but not limited to radical social distancing towards continuous improvement of safety and the mitigation of COVID 19 exposure risk. The following are the posted rules at SUP Headquarters in San Francisco:
ATTENTION: CORONAVIRUS PROTOCOLS
By Order No. C19-07b of the City and County of San Francisco Department of Public Health
This hiring hall is an Essential Business under the federal, state and local public health guidelines. In accordance with those guidelines and furthermore, under the authority of the California Health and Safety Code, the City and County of San Francisco Health Officer orders that all persons at this location are hereby advised and required:
- NOT to enter this building if they are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, including fever or cough;
- to practice social distancing by requiring all persons to be separated by six (6) feet, to the extent feasible;
- to have access to washing facilities with soap and water or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol;
- to adhere to communicable disease control recommendations provided by the County of San Francisco Department of Public Health.
All Essential Businesses shall implement the Social Distancing Protocol and provide evidence of its implementation to any authority enforcing this Order upon demand. The Social Distancing Protocol must explain how the business is achieving the following, as applicable:
- Limiting the number of people who can enter into the facility at any one time to ensure that people in the facility can easily maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another at all times, except as required to complete the Essential Business activity;
- Where any lines may form at a facility, marking six-foot increments at a minimum, establishing where individuals should stand to maintain adequate social distancing;
- Providing hand sanitizer, soap and water, or effective disinfectant at or near the entrance of the facility and in other appropriate areas for use by the public and employees, and in locations where there is high-frequency employee interaction with members of the public (e.g., cashiers);
- Providing for contactless payment systems or, if not feasible to do so, the providing for disinfecting all payment portals, pens, and styluses after each use;
- Regularly disinfecting other high-touch surfaces;
- Posting a sign at the entrance of the facility informing all employees and customers that they should: avoid entering the facility if they have a cough or fever; maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another; sneeze and cough into one’s elbow; and not shake hands or engage in any unnecessary physical contact; and
- Any additional social distancing measures being implemented (see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidancebusiness-res...).
If you have any questions, please call SUP Headquarters at 415 777 3400