Council 4 Executive Director Jody Barr issued the following statement to Council 4 Local Presidents, Executive Board and Delegates to share with all our members:

As the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise, workers in health care and related professions are on the front lines, helping to save lives during an unprecedented pandemic.

While most people are taking steps to limit contact with others, the vital job duties of AFSCME members require that they do just the opposite.

Updating wills before heading into work. Extending the lives of single-use masks. Self-isolating from their own families. These are just some of the shameful realities and conditions health care workers on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic are facing each day.

As front line employees in the Connecticut prison system, Sherine Bailey and Aimmee Reyes-Greaves of AFSCME Local 391 (State NP-4 Department of Correction Bargaining Unit) are dealing with a special set of challenges posed by  the coronavirus pandemic.

A prison is among the dangerous settings for the coronavirus to spread. Close confines, stringent security measures and the near impossibility of maintaining social distance require a special brand of vigilance.

Before the announcement early Wednesday of an unprecedented $2 trillion deal to combat the coronavirus pandemic, AFSCME President Lee Saunders and three front-line workers put pressure on federal lawmakers to come through with a robust aid package for state and local governments so they can rebuild decimated public services.

Custodians have long been at the front lines of germ warfare, and their role has become exponentially more important during the coronavirus pandemic.

Leo Laffitte, a custodian for 18 years at the Hartford Public Library, a member of AFSCME Local 1716 and a district vice president for Council 4 (Connecticut), is one of those dedicated germ warriors.

The State Employee Bargaining Coalition continues to have strong concerns about both the protection of state workers performing essential services on the job and the implementation at an agency level of the Governor’s directives and statements that those workers who can work at home be allowed to do so, and “only the essential people go to work as needed.”

The coronavirus aid package that cleared Congress is just not good enough for public service workers. That’s the takeaway message from AFSCME President Lee Saunders.

The blue and yellow sign greeting staff and visitors to the Bridgeport Health Care Center nursing home reads, “Dedicated to Caring.”

Those words are profoundly true for the 200 dedicated staff who work there and are represented by AFSCME Local 1522 (Bridgeport Board of Education/BHCC).  But they are a cruel irony weighed against the monstrous greed that has forced the facility to close this spring.

“It’s a wide-awake nightmare,” said Local 1522 President Sherrie Weller. “There’s been a level of torture and torment nobody can imagine.”

If you are a Council 4 local union member and have a question regarding the pandemic and associated state/municipal/private sector closures, you can submit it to [email protected]