On Friday August 28th 2020, OCA had a conference call with all the unions statewide. We were informed of the fiscal constraints OCA is facing for the rest of the year. The unions were not given any hard numbers or facts, just generic comments without any specifics. CSEA and the other unions are waiting for specific information regarding budget constraints. CSEA is committed to our membership and will keep you posted as more information comes available.
We encourage you to read the CSEA Workforce Issue May 2020
Some Articles to be sure to read:
- Expansion of Telehealth and Telemedicine
- Flex Spending Account Update
- Care for you mental health during pandemic
- EBF extends dependent eligibility to age 26
All of the counties represented by Local 333 will be open as of tomorrow. As our members return to the workplace, we wanted to share some of the guidelines that will now be in place. These new protocols have been put in place to protect you and your coworkers. We are all expected to be the example that the public will follow. The state shutdown did a good job of pounding down the curve and slowing the spread of COVID 19. The following safety precautions are being implemented in the courts to continue to stop the spread of the virus. There is a real possibility of a spike in infections as we start reopening and we must be diligent as we continue to protect ourselves and the people around us from infection.
The union has done safety and health walkthroughs in every courthouse we represent. Working with management we were able to mark the spacing needed for social distancing and identify where plexiglass needs to be installed. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available in every facility and buildings will be cleaned daily. We have full cooperation from the 3rd and 4th Judicial Districts. They will be working with the union to make sure that all of the safety protocols and guidelines are being followed by all employees of every title. To assure as much protection as possible the following protocols are being implemented.
Masks should be available for all the employees. Go to security is you need a mask and they will provide one for you. All employees are mandated to wear a mask at all times while at work. Only employees alone in a private office are allowed to be in a facility without a mask. We have already started distributing washable reusable masks to all of our union members. We are trying to have them distributed to all of our members this week. If you are not scheduled in work this week we will leave on your desk or with you coworkers.
Hand sanitizer should be available at multiple location throughout the facility. If you do not have any at your workplace, please let us know. All members are encouraged to wash their hands several times a day. Our Local was able to get 4oz bottles of hand sanitizer to distribute to our members. We were disappointed when we received them because they have an unpleasant disinfectant smell. It will take weeks to replace them, so we have decided to distribute them to you. We apologize for the less than pleasant smell, but they are still 100% effective.
We have spent the last two weeks visiting facilities with management and measuring the space needed to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Temporarily there is tape marking the six feet apart distance. OCA has ordered adhesive signs that will be used as soon as they are delivered. Chairs have been marked and/or removed and limits are being put on how many people may be in the facility at one time. Cases are being scheduled in adherence to the new capacity guidelines. It will be a little hectic at the beginning as we figure out how to schedule appropriately, but we are confident our members will rise to the challenge, as they always do.
There are some areas where six feet of distance is not available. All of these identified areas are having plexiglass, or some form of barrier installed. Magnetometer posts and clerk widows/counters are the priority for these barriers. They are also going to be installed in courtrooms where they are needed. Court Officers that are using hand scanners will have to operate within six feet without a barrier. That is why N95 masks should be available to them and we encourage those officers to wear these masks while performing this function.
Disinfectant Wipes or Spray Cleaner and Paper Towels
Cleaning supplies should be available in all work areas. We encourage all of our members to sanitize all common areas and equipment prior to using them. The cleaning personnel will not be able to clean individual workstations during the day. We must collectively work together to help stop the spread of COVID 19.
Please let us know if any of these guidelines are not being followed in your facility. It is important that we all work together to keep each other as safe as possible. As we begin to return to work, it is important that we all remember most of us are very visible to the public. We are going to set the tone on how important these safety guidelines are. Now more than ever, it is important for us to present ourselves as professionals. Let us remind OCA just how vital and important we are.
CSEA Judiciary Local 333
Local 333 Member,
I’m not sure if you heard the Governor’s update yesterday, but it appears that the “pause” will be lifted, effective May 15th, in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier & Mohawk Valley Regions. Based on this information, the Chief Judge and Chief Administrative Judge have determined that courts in the following Judicial Districts (and/or counties) will be authorized to accept new matters/filings (i.e. no longer limited to just essential matters), effective Monday May 18th :
3rd JD (Schoharie);
4th JD (Fulton & Montgomery);
5th JD (Herkimer & Oneida);
6th JD (Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins, Otsego);
7th JD (Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates); and
8th JD (Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming).
While Judges will continue to handle cases virtually to the fullest extent possible just as they are now and the majority of our employees will continue to work remotely from home, it has also been determined that Judges, their Chambers staff, a limited number of support and/or back office staff and uniformed personnel, will be required to report to their respective courts on Monday to begin ramping up for the next Phase of resuming operations — processing the mail, clearing up backlogs and data entry etc.
The Administrative Judges were required to submit their staffing plans for this first Phase to the DCAJ by the end of business yesterday. We expect to be receiving more details as to the titles and numbers that will be reporting to each court/location shortly. The initial plan is for staff (other than Judges and Chambers Staff) to be on 2 week rotations wherever possible, so, for example, the back office staff that comes in Monday would report to work for the 2 weeks thereafter and be replaced by another group of employees that would report the following 2 weeks and so on. Employees that are needed to report on Monday for Phase I will be contacted today by their supervisor or a local court manager. If there are any particular issues with reporting, they should be prepared to raise them at that time.
Buildings that have been closed during this time will undergo enhanced cleaning prior to staff reporting. Representatives from our Local are doing walkthroughs with management starting today. OCA has already ordered additional plexiglass to be used to separate employees from members of the public at windows/counters, additional signage about required face coverings and social distancing, floor markings to be placed 6 feet apart in high traffic areas such as the entry points and magnetometers, and additional masks, sanitizer and gloves. All of these safety precautions should be installed and distributed to these facilities prior to reopening.
It was announced yesterday that the Capital District has achieved six of the seven criteria needed to lift the “pause”. In preparation for that inevitability we are also doing walkthroughs with management in several Capital District counties starting today. Some employees in the Capital District have already been contacted and told they may need to be ready to report to work. This is all being done in anticipation of the Governor releasing the “pause” on these Capital District counties. We have already brought up the childcare issue that many of our members may face due to the schools and daycare facilities remaining closed. We are already working with OCA and the Districts to come up with a way to address this specific issue as fairly as possible. We will continue to share information with our members as we receive it.
CSEA Judiciary Local 333
Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak the Executive Board has decided to extend the Scholarship Application deadline to June 1, 2020. All applications must be postmarked by that date.
Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we are canceling our event on the Dutch Apple Cruise that was scheduled for May 15, 2020. Our Executive Board has determined that this is in the best interests of the public right now.
Hopefully, we can reschedule for a later date.
Some of our members are still receiving paper checks and have opted out of direct deposit. OCA has contacted CSEA in the hopes we could help assist in contacting these members. In order to have them sign up for direct deposit so they won’t see a delay in their checks, otherwise they can’t guarantee they will receive then on time. Due to the ongoing crisis OSC will be sending them out and may not have updated addresses.