Union Workers Call on Governor DeWine to Implement Work-at-Home Status for Additional State Employees

Workers with the State of Ohio say that Governor DeWine should allow work-at home status for more state workers to protect employees and prevent the spread of COVID19.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 11th, 2020
Contact: Joshua Norris at 877-419-7348         

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Workers with the State of Ohio say that Governor DeWine should allow work-at home status for more state workers to protect employees and prevent the spread of COVID19. Specifically, state workers with the Ohio Department of Health, who work in Downtown Columbus, are asking Governor Mike DeWine and leaders with the Ohio Department of Health to place workers back on work-at-home status. They say that while they are currently classified as “essential” and though their work is important to the response to the pandemic, their jobs can be done remotely from home.

“Workers with the State of Ohio were sent home in March and April due to the serious risks posed by increasing cases of COVID19. Yet, the reality is that current conditions are more dangerous today with widespread community transmission of COVID19, especially in hot spots like Franklin County,” says Joshua Norris, Executive Vice President of SEIU District 1199. “Members have formally expressed their concerns in recent labor-management meetings with the State of Ohio. As Governor DeWine requests employers to have workers on work-at-home status when possible, we are asking the State of Ohio to do the same, this should include office-based workers with the Ohio Department of Health in Downtown Columbus.”  

Union leaders state that the union members at 35 East Chestnut Street in Columbus work in various public health positions and are playing an important role in the public response to the pandemic. Management has expressed that it is easier to communicate when workers are at a central location.

“The staff members have various concerns about safety and the application of workplace policies, like many workers across Ohio and the country during this difficult time,” continued Norris. “Whether your work for the Ohio Department of Health or ODMHAS, we ask the State of Ohio to re-evaluate which positions are able to complete their work remotely, to be highly responsive to workplace safety concerns during the pandemic, and to maintain work-at-home status whenever possible,”  said Norris.  “Franklin County is one of the hottest spots in Ohio for potential COVID exposure, these individuals are being required to risk their lives by reporting to work. This is not how you flatten the curve. These individuals have proven that they are trusted, capable, and willing to complete the jobs that their fellow Ohioans rely on, while staying safe in their own homes. You don’t want your front line to be exposed during a pandemic, if you can prevent it,” Norris continued. “Now we are learning that the managerial staff at the ODH office in Columbus recently held an in-person retirement party where more than 25 staff congregated to recognize a retiring member of the management team. This sends the wrong message and is further evidence of a lack of respect for these Union members, their families, their communities, and all Ohioans.”

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