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Postal Service Updating COVID-19 itemsDecember 6, 2022General InformationUnion Family, We all know that COVID is not over. We also know that the CDC has drastically changed their guidelines—not necessarily for the better. Based on the CDC guidance that businesses no longer need to do close contact tracing, the Postal Service has decided to change their decision tree and turn over the close contact tracing to public health officials. I do not agree that this is in the best interest of Postal Employees. In my opinion the changing of the Decision Tree was to avoid any payment of administrative leave by turning over an isolation or quarantine decisions to public health officials. This way the Postal Service can now make the claim it was not them who put anyone off work. The CDC has greatly reduced when isolation/quarantine is even necessary based symptoms, vaccination status, and the expectation that exposed people will wear well-fitting masks. However, it is the opinion of the APWU that if an employee is exposed to COVID-19 at work and told to isolate by a public health official, administrative leave should be granted. If any such employee, then tests positive for COVID-19 they need and should file an OWCP claim. Additionally, the Postal Service has put us on notice that they plan on reviewing all social distancing protocols (i.e., PASS machine layout, etc.) and possibly discontinue them. Again, the APWU disagrees with discontinuing any protocol that could lead to the spread of any contagion. The Postal Service has said we will be provided proposed changes in advance and have an opportunity to review them and give input on the changes. I put little faith in the Postal Service doing this in a manner that actually takes the safety and health of Postal Workers into consideration. At the time this email was written, no proposed changes had been provided to the APWU. Remember, any postal employee who contracts COVID-19 may apply for OWCP benefits and be paid Continuation of Pay. The employee will need to provide positive PCR test results or evidence of COVID-19 positivity another way that is supported by medical documentation from their doctor. If they have worked at the Postal Service within 21-days of contracting COVID-19, the OWCP claim will more than likely be approved.   These eased processes for applying for COVID-19 OWCP benefits remain in effect through January 27, 2023. However, the APWU Legislative Department in conjunction with the other Postal Unions, is actively working the halls of Congress to have these benefits extended. COVID is not over. The APWU still encourages all employees to do the simple things that help prevent the spread of COVID or other illnesses: Wash your hands frequently Wear masks at work, when in public, and at union events STAY HOME WHEN SICK Get vaccinated when able and when recommend by your medical practitioner. The updated Decision Tree is attached and we will update you if any other COVID protocols are altered. You may share with the field. Thank you and remember—stay safe, wear your mask!   COVID-19 Decision Tree 11.29.2022 [...] Read more...
Postal Service Updating COVID-19 itemsNovember 9, 2022General InformationUnion Family, The Postal Service has significantly changed their COVID-19 policies. Let me be clear that the APWU is not in agreement with all these changes. Unfortunately, the CDC significantly weakened their guidance on COVID-19 which the USPS is citing as reason for these changes. So here are things to note: The Postal Service is no longer asking people to quarantine—rather if an employee is exposed the Postal Service is telling them to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5 after exposure. However, the Postal Service still recommends isolation (don’t go to work) when you are sick and suspect you have COVID-19 and to follow the CDC isolation guidelines if you have not been tested. (See slide 2 of brief presentation) If you do test positive, employees stay home for at least 5 days and once you leave home wear a mask through day 10. (see slide 2 of brief presentation). The “Decision Tree” no longer grants administrative leave under any circumstances. The Postal Service says employees are to use Annual, Sick, or LWOP for their absences. Close contact tracing is no longer done by the Postal Nurses but returned to local health departments to conduct. I believe they did this so that it is an outside agency or medical provider who is telling the employee to stay off work instead of the Postal Service. Remember, employees who are contract COVID-19 can still qualify for OWCP and Continuation of Pay (COP). The eligibility to apply under the loosened standards lasts currently through January 27, 2023. However, the APWU Legislative Department is working hard to have Congress extend this date.  You can learn more here: How to File an OWCP Claim When Diagnosed with COVID-19 | American Postal Workers Union (apwu.org) or contact the Human Relations Department with your OWCP questions. I know the Postal Service will probably still attempt to discipline folks for missing work for COVID-19. Grievances will need to be filed, but I suggest placing the power point presentation in all grievances where it shows the Postal Service wants employees to stay home. We believe all this to be short-sighted by the Postal Service as we are seeing both upticks in COVID cases and an early arrival of an intense Flu season. As we have always said and will continue to say, the APWU recommends that all employees continue to practice things that help slow the spread:  Social Distance, wash your hands, wear a mask, and if medically able, get your COVID-19 vaccines and Flu vaccines as well. COVID is not over and the APWU is still losing members to this horrible disease. You may share with the field. Thank you and remember—stay safe, wear your mask! Charlie Cash Industrial Relations Director American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO 202-842-4273 Office;   COVID-19 Decision Tree 10.27.2022 V1     COVID-19 CDC Recommendations 10-2022 [...] Read more...