This week, two experienced labor representatives and collective bargainers -- Peter Dooley, Industrial Hygienist with National COSH, and Jim Howe, President of Safety Solutions -- facilitated an interactive workshop on best practices for collective bargaining in the age of COVID-19. Peter and Jim have compiled a shared Google Doc with collaborative notes from our session and a comprehensive set of instructional resources and sample documents that cover pre-planning and information gathering ahead of the bargaining process, writing effective proposals, and bargaining itself. Participants are invited to reach out to Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jim (email@example.com) to request editable copies of any of these documents for use in their own workplaces. Some take-away points from Peter and Jim: It’s important to have worker engagement in the collective bargaining process. The more your demands are based on what workers want, the more powerful they will be to management. There are tremendous opportunities to gain improvements in Health and Safety issues through bargaining with employers. It’s important for H&S representatives to help the union or worker organizations recognize and realize these improvements. The bargaining process in health and safety should be happening all the time with the employer. The most important part of the process is to have any [...]
Statement from Debra Coyle McFadden on being appointed to NJ Council on the Green Economy I am honored to be selected to serve on the Green Economy Council and want to thank Governor Murphy for this opportunity. I look forward to working with the other members of the Council to ensure NJ's green economy works for workers. As we look for opportunities to maximize clean energy jobs, we need to make sure these are family-sustaining, union jobs with strong worker protections -- and that they are accessible to marginalized workers who have traditionally been left behind. This is a once in a generation opportunity and I am ready to get to work. Read Governor Murphy's announcement here.
Today we heard from two public health experts helping to guide the planning and execution of New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, Medical Advisor to the NJ Department of Health and chair of the state’s Professional Advisory Committee, began by summarizing what New Jerseyans need to know about the two available FDA authorized vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna mRNA), including the following: Both vaccines are approximately 95% effective. Adolescents ages 16 and 17 are eligible to receive the Pfizer Biotech vaccine. It is not yet known how well the vaccine prevents COVID-19 transmission, so those vaccinated should still mask, social distance and take other measures to protect others. The vaccine’s durability is not yet known - it may require booster doses. The vaccine may be administered to people with underlying conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination. Those who are immunocompromised or have autoimmune disorders should consult with their doctor before vaccination. Dr. Bresnitz also provided an update on New Jersey’s tiers for priority vaccination: in Tier 1A, which includes those working or volunteering in healthcare with potential for direct or indirect exposure and all residents and workers of long-term care facilities, “everyone who wants a vaccine has gotten one.” Those now [...]
TRENTON — In advance of Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget plan being proposed Tuesday, groups have begun publicly pressing for him to end longstanding budget practices that shortchange priorities. Among the issues on that lengthy list are NJ Transit, which uses money from its capital program to pay operating costs, and the Board of Public Utilities clean-energy funds that are perennially diverted from their intended purpose to offset costs at NJT and elsewhere in state government. A coalition of groups under the banner Jersey Renews said in a letter to Murphy that the clean energy funds collected from ratepayers on electric bills are supposed to pay for energy conservation and other green-energy initiatives. They say it’s time for a dedicated funding source to support NJ Transit instead. “We understand this moment of the pandemic as a crisis and as an opportunity – an opportunity to reassess and redefine who we value and who we take care of as a state,” said Berenice Tompkins, the Jersey Renews campaign organizer. “What we’re really talking about here is taking the clean energy funds and using them for their intended purposes,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, executive director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council. “It almost feels like [...]
This week, were were joined by Marcy Gelb, Co-Director, National COSH and Al Vega, Director Policy and Programs and Vice Chair of National COSH Board of Directors, who discussed the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s (National COSH) eight-point National Agenda for Worker Safety and Health, developed with more than 100 labor and community-based organizations. Marcy outlined the devastating increase in mortality COVID-19 has brought to workers, and the enormous disparity in mortality between white and black and latino workers. She emphasized that COVID-19 is not just a workplace hazard, but a hazard for our entire community. It is critical that workers are protected from not just COVID-19, but from all hazards and retaliation from employers for speaking up about them. Al elaborated on conditions for workers on the ground, and stressed the importance of setting a baseline of safety at the federal level, instead of leaving it up to state governments to decide whether or not workers have a right to be safe in their workplace. You can learn more about the national agenda here. More than 75 people attended this webinar. NOTE: There is no webinar next week. We will be back on Tuesday, February 23 @ 10am.
This week we heard from two transit union representatives - Corey Gallman, Recording Secretary of Amalgamated Transit Union’s NJ State Council, and Jerome Johnson, General Chairman/President of Smart-TD Local 60, representing New Jersey bus and train workers respectively at NJ Transit. ATU and SMART joined us on the series last summer to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their members. Today, both unions came back to share updates on PPE, cleaning and other safety measures, on-the-job violence that transit workers face. We were also joined by Janna Chernetz, Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Deputy Director and Director of New Jersey Policy. Janna shared statistics revealing the disparity in returning ridership between inter-city and commuter buses and trains during the pandemic -- proving that while many white-collar workers are able to work remotely, large numbers of essential workers still depend on public transit to get to work. Janna spoke about the Bus Rider Bill of Rights as a vehicle for transit equity - a document now proposed as NJ state legislation that declares the rights of all riders to affordable, accessible, reliable and safe bus service. More than 78 people attended this webinar. Janna also spoke about Transit Equity Day - a national day of action coming up this Thursday, February [...]
January 26: Join Dr. Tina Tan, DOH Asst. Commissioner and State Epidemiologist as we discuss COVID-19
This week we were joined by Dr. Tina Tan, MD, MPH, State Epidemiologist and Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health at the New Jersey Department of Health, where she oversees program areas in general communicable disease surveillance and control, immunizations, environmental and occupational health, and cancer epidemiology. Dr. Tan traced the origin of the virus outbreak in the US and NJ, contextualizing the viruses history thus far and challenges in tracing and managing the outbreak for both the state and the nation. She covered our shift from a state of emergency, to the cancellation of mass gatherings and school closures, to the stay at home order. She also spoke about our cultural shift towards social distancing and using masks and hygiene to combat the virus. She detailed the strain the first wave had on our healthcare systems, discussed the second wave and its peaks, and discussed challenges for local agencies in regards to contact tracing and capacity. More than 165 people attended this presentation. Here is Dr. Tan's presentation.
This week we covered the effect of COVID-19 on long-term care facilities, which have been ground zero for viral outbreaks. As the pandemic has ravaged senior communities across the country and frontline healthcare workers have faced PPE shortages, the federal government has offered weak and inconsistent aid to beleaguered nursing homes. To discuss the ongoing impact of the pandemic on long-term care, we were joined by Matte Kane, Union Representative, UFCW 152, Kendra Bass, LPN, United Steelworkers Local 406 Recording Secretary, and Phillis Shivers, District 1199J, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO. Our guests spoke to the unique workplace risks that long term care facility workers face, as well as to the challenges of organizing and ensuring that workers’ voices are heard in a world where face-to-face connection is limited. The conversation ended with a productive exploration of ways we can overcome collective barriers to organizing in the COVID era. Resource: Center for Disease Control: How COVID-19 Spreads
In our first webinar of the new year, we welcomed Betsy Marshall, PhD, Epidemiologist, Rutgers School of Public Health, Paschal Nwako, PhD, MPH, County Health Officer & Public Health Coordinator, Camden County NJ, and Lindsay Berg and Alisa Fatima, Contact Tracer Supervisors, Mercer County NJ. All four of our guests discussed the importance of identifying, monitoring, and supporting individuals who may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, and of the specific regional challenges faced by the public health community in Camden and Mercer county, respectively. More than 110 people attended this webinar. Here is the link to the New Jersey Community Contact Tracing Corps. https://www.publicconsultinggroup.com/new-jersey-state-contact-tracing-initiative/
This week we rounded out the year with a panel of guests who helped us understand how COVID-19 has affected their members in 2020, new challenges we face as we head into the second wave, and the steps workers, unions, and advocates need to take in 2021 to ensure a safe, healthy year for everyone. We were joined by: Debbie White, President, Health Professionals and Allied Employees, AFT, who spoke to the lack of employer reporting on COVID-19 cases and the dangers HPAE’s members face as a result, and on bills that HPAE has campaigned on to change that. Nancy Miller, Membership Assistance Program Coordinator, UFCW Local 1262, who spoke to the need for consistent campaigning and organizing to win hazard pay and health and safety concessions as COVID-19 has waxed and waned in cases over the past year. Michael Rollins, Field Representative - Organizational Development, NJEA, who spoke to NJEA’s emphasis on communication with members and the importance of critical partnerships this year in maintaining health and safety on the ground, and who also highlighted the dedicated work of our schools’ Education Service Professionals (ESPs). And Barry Kushnir, President, IFPTE Local 194, and Hudson County Central Labor Council, who spoke to the organizing efforts [...]