Organized Labor Copes with COVID Changing Work Rules

by | Sep 30, 2021 | Health Care, Labor Union

COVID suggestions and requirements at the state, county, municipal, organizational and business level have ramped up this fall.  As a result, many of our labor union clients have taken the proactive step of reaching out to members to communicate the most current and critical information.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown recently issued an executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccines for state workers by October 18.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given full approval to vaccines.  This combination of factors means that the state of Oregon has the legal latitude to mandate the vaccine for state employees.

Like most of our labor clients, SEIU 503 in Oregon already uses Teletownhalls to keep its members updated.  Forums typically focus on bargaining, reporting workplace issues, and utilizing the resources of the union.  It was a natural step for 503 to call the entire membership for a discussion on how the new mandate affects workers in Oregon.

SEIU 503 leadership started by outlining what the union has already accomplished in recent months.  That included reaching out to Oregon state leaders requesting bargaining around the new mandates.  The union also reported that it was surveying active members to determine bargaining priorities.

Labor leaders on the forum outlined their findings regarding the vaccination mandate for state employees.  Their presentation ensured that SEIU 503 members had all the information they needed to understand the vaccine mandate.  Then leadership answered member questions to help develop a complete understanding of how best to navigate the new requirement.

SEIU 503 members learned that State of Oregon executive branch employees will be required to be fully vaccinated on or before October 18.  The mandate covers most state employees with few exceptions, and even applies to those working remotely.  Exemptions to the mandate were discussed during live Q&A later in the forum.

As is typical for these events, members asked clarifying questions during a lengthy Q&A session.  The discussion revolved around why members are not receiving hazard pay if the situation is so dangerous as to require vaccination of all state employees.  Members also sought guidance on meeting the extremely short deadline created by the mandate and discussed how bargaining might lead to a more favorable situation for SEIU 503 members.  Finally, union leaders answered questions about grievances and possible dismissals that could result from the Oregon state employee vaccine mandate as the deadline approaches.

Labor unions have used Teletownhalls and Text Alerts to rapidly inform and activate members for more than 15 years.  COVID-19 has presented new challenges to labor leadership and members, but strong communication has always been a guiding star for organized labor.  Telephone Town Hall Meeting is proud to help unions navigate the new labor environment created by the pandemic.  TTHM always stands ready to help facilitate that bond and empower union members with accurate, timely information. We also offer Alternate Language Simulcasting to create solidarity across language boundaries.

Reach out to request a demo of our production process, and to discuss how telephone townhall meetings and P2P text messages can strengthen the connection between labor leadership and membership.