The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across our country and now throughout Los Angeles County has created a historic time of unprecedented uncertainty. As you and your families read this article, the top COVID-19 experts’ scientific prediction that April will be the cruelest month for California and Los Angeles County will be in progress or nearing its end. The U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy arriving at the Port of Los Angeles at the end of March is hopefully not a harbinger of the expected dramatic surge of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths that could result in never-before-seen stressors on our fragile health-care system, our loved ones, our communities, our public safety, our economy and you, our PPOA members.
All of you, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of sworn or nonsworn status, are designated public employee Disaster Service Workers (California Government Code Section 3100-3109). Regardless of this designation, you have already gone above and beyond the call of duty and continue to do so, carrying out the sacred oath and affirmation of office as you risk your personal health and safety (as well as your loved ones) to protect the residents of Los Angeles County. The daily acts of courage, sacrifice and selfless dedication to duty that you have exemplified during this global crisis are a direct mandate to your union to fight like never before as we do everything in our power to have your backs during this global and national catastrophic occurrence.
PPOA’s first mandate is to ensure that the health and safety of all our members and their families remains our organization’s highest priority. The County of Los Angeles, as well as its Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office and Department of Medical Examiner, must take decisive and unprecedented proactive actions to ensure that the County workforce is and remains healthy throughout this pandemic. This mandate has not been executed during the first few weeks of this global crisis, as each day, shift and, for that matter, hour experiences a lack of clarity, consistency and confidence for not only PPOA members but the entire County workforce.
PPOA has received several calls from members regarding access to personal protective equipment (PPE). To be fair, PPE is unfortunately now a common acronym heard on the evening news, as the United States, California and Los Angeles County are severely lacking the basic PPE of gloves, masks and goggles. PPOA continues to demand from all represented County departments that members, particularly public-facing members, have appropriate PPE. Each call received regarding PPE has immediately been followed up by PPOA President Tab Rhodes or our dedicated staff. We have been able to resolve most issues and are working to ensure that all members have PPE as well as adequate replacements. We are cautiously optimistic that the shortage of PPE is finally being addressed at the national level, resulting in supply increases soon. If you do not have access to PPE, call PPOA immediately, 24/7. PPOA will fight to make sure you have this critical protection before and during your shift.
PPOA’s second mandate is to fight for paid leave for our members who have been exposed to COVID-19 prior to April 1, 2020. From that date going forward, the federal government’s new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will take effect and provide up to 80 hours of paid leave for employees who meet the qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19: https://tinyurl.com/udk47so. If any PPOA members have used their leave balances (prior to April 1, 2020) as a result of COVID-19, PPOA needs to get your information and circumstances. Please call the PPOA office or email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. PPOA is committed to fighting for retroactive leave pay. Along with our fellow Los Angeles County unions that comprise the County Coalition of Unions (CCU), we will fight together for a fair and equitable resolution that does not come at the expense of the brave men and women who are battling for containment of COVID-19.
PPOA remains committed to keeping you informed during this historic crisis through frequent communications via our website, Week in Review (every Saturday morning), mobile app, social media and email blasts. If you have not provided PPOA with your personal email address, please do so immediately at email@example.com. Please do not hesitate to call PPOA with any questions, concerns or needs that you may have. You will receive a call back, guaranteed. I think it is also important for you to know that PPOA is collectively and positively engaged with the Board of Supervisors, CEO Office, Sheriff Villanueva, District Attorney Lacey and Medical Examiner Dr. Lucas, and their respective leadership teams.
Finally, to our PPOA members and your loved ones, I pray for your health, safety and spirit of optimism as we boldly move forward together.