Good afternoon, Madam President Cavazos and Trustees,
ESEA and Teamsters 14 are advocating on behalf of all education support professionals (ESPs). We want to ensure all support professionals and students are safe in our school reopening. Having said that, we have been forced to take action against CCSD’s COVID-19 mandatory testing that is to be done on an employee’s own time and without pay.
This is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the ESEA/CCSD Negotiated Agreement and Section A, 10, b, of the attached Reopening MOA. Because of this policy, ESEA and Teamsters 14 have demanded to bargain with the District and are preparing a grievance to pay all ESP’s who have had to use their own personal time to get the mandatory COVID-19 test.
While the grievance is processing, we are still advising our ESP’s to complete the directed unlawful task specific to their employment. In order to keep students and co-workers safe, our ESPs attempted to comply with the testing requirements. Unfortunately, due to the lack of organization by CCSD, unvaccinated employees, who again, were using personal time, waited outside in the 100+ degree heat for hours with no water, shade, or chairs. Some have medical conditions and put their health at risk in order to comply. Then, after hours of waiting, they were told that the testing company, who has been contracted by CCSD, was closing the testing sites, and they would have to leave without being tested. These locations are not open long enough to have employees arrive before or after work, wait, and be tested.
Did anyone at CCSD consider by forcing all these unvaccinated employees to congregate in the same area creates the high risk of a super spreader event. The purpose of testing is to identify positive cases, not create an opportunity to spread the virus. This could cause cases to rise and intensify the already critical employee shortage by having employees be off work with COVID. This same ineffective process is required to be repeated weekly. The District should add more locations or go back to the previous process of having the individuals administering the tests bring them to each school/administrative building. This current process is going to hurt the students learning environment and ability.
While CCSD did send an updated health and safety protocol the next day, the changes are not adequate. The new non CCSD locations will either charge the employee outright or bill the employee’s insurance, which then could cause a copayment or not cover the test at all. Either way, it is at a cost to the employee, which could have been avoided if the District planned more adequately. If this is a requirement of employment, like a drug test, it should be at no cost to the employee. This situation, full of mismanagement and disorganization, was entirely avoidable from the start. The District knew how many employees were either unvaccinated or had not uploaded their proof of vaccination, they should have prepared better. ESP’s were simply trying to comply, but the District made it impossible to do so. Being so ill-prepared is disrespectful to us all, as we would much rather spend our free time with our families, instead of standing in a long line to nowhere when it’s 100+ degrees outside. We deserve better … and demand better.
Jan Giles, ESEA President