Business Agent Report for May 2020

By Debi Humann

I have been working from home in compliance with Governor Inslee’s “Stay-Home” Order that currently runs through May 31.  I have been holding phone conference calls and zoom tele-conference meetings in order to stay in touch with the employees who are also tele-working or who, due to the critical nature of their jobs, are reporting to their normal work stations.  This has been an interesting new “normal”.  We are doing our best to not only get through this but are working hard to maintain a high level of member contact and a continued response on grievances, phone calls and problems.

The various Cities and public employers that I represent (including City of Marysville, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency) have all managed the “Stay Home” Order successfully including, for a period, off-shifting Public Works and Parks employees in an effort to reduce exposure to the COVID 19 virus.  The employees have been disinfecting tools, tables, work vehicles, and all other surfaces in an attempt to reduce / prevent any infectious spread.  Most of the cities that I represent have recently returned to a normal schedule in Public Works/Parks divisions while staggering start and end times (to avoid large groups), are maintaining social distancing whenever possible and wearing masks.  The administrative employees, including PSCAA, are largely tele-working to prevent contact.  So far, so good.

Snohomish County jail experienced a restriction on inmate bookings during the peak of the COVID 19 outbreak.  As a result, my understanding is that the jail population was kept at approximately 350 inmates to allow for appropriate spacing.  The restriction on bookings has been lifted however the inmate population remains lower than normal currently. 

Many of my public employers have suggested that they are running at budget deficits due to the Coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic and the unbudgeted, unforeseen budgetary impacts.  Many of my public contracts (seven) expire at the end of this year which will make bargaining more difficult due to the forecasted budget position of many of these employers.  Time will tell, however, and my members and I are watching closely for not only revenue improvements but potential “bail outs” from Federal and/or State agencies. 

The two Union funeral homes that are represented by Teamsters Local 763 have been significantly impacted by the COVID 19 virus.  I learned through this crisis that the bodily remains of our loved ones remain COVID 19 positive if they passed from the virus.  This makes not only doing the job of a Funeral Director and/or Embalmer more dangerous but also makes it difficult to work with grieving families who, themselves, may be positive or likely exposed.  The Funeral Directors and Embalmers deserve a huge thank you from all of us for their empathetic work with grieving families all year round but especially during these difficult times.

Thank you to all who are doing your part to help Washington State control this deadly virus and thank you to all who are working on the front lines whether you are a grocery worker, law enforcement, a PW / Parks employee, a Funeral Home employee, or any of the other Washingtonians who are doing what has to be done as safely as possible. 

Stay Teamsters strong! 

Debi Humann