From: the nurses, techs, EVS workers, dietary staff, unit clerks, pharmacists, CNAs, home care workers, transporters, paramedics, and other health care workers at St. Mary's Hospital.
We are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We all know that the spread of this deadly virus will grow exponentially over the coming weeks, and the challenge ahead of us is immense. We will be risking our own health and the health of our families as we fight this, but we are charged with protecting our patients from harm. Wisconsin needs us now more than ever before.
As professional healthcare workers, we are doing everything we can to meet this moment, but we alone cannot shoulder this burden. We need our employers, and the entire healthcare industry, to lead alongside us.
No worker should ever have to come to work sick because they can’t afford to stay home, in this industry or in any other. That’s why we are fighting for paid sick leave for every worker in Wisconsin.
We already see sick patients coming to the hospital straight from their jobs, because they could not afford to call in sick. This is unacceptable under any circumstances, but especially during a pandemic.
In an already-fragile healthcare system with limited supplies and protections, we demand to be able to focus completely on our patients. It is unconscionable that any frontline caregiver be required to navigate a limited and inadequate paid sick leave policy. In these stressful and uncertain times for healthcare workers, we should not have to deal with the added stress and worry of whether or how we can afford to take sick leave.
Every Wisconsin resident needs comprehensive and industry-wide changes to sick leave policy to reflect the gravity of this crisis. But in our positions as healthcare workers, our lives depend on this, and so do yours.
On behalf of all workers in a health care setting in Wisconsin, union-represented or not, we demand:
All health care employers cover the full cost of COVID-19 testing for employees, including if necessary costs for doctor office visits.
All health care employers provide up to an additional 8 weeks, specifically-designated paid time off to cover absences related to COVID-19, without an attempt to discern if exposure occurred at work or via community spread. These hours should count as worked hours and count towards an employees’ eligibility for benefits, paid time off accrual, Federal and Wisconsin Medical Leaves, retirement, and any other applicable benefits. This should include but not be limited to all of the following, regardless of the place or circumstances of exposure:
Employees who are required to remain at home by the Employer.
Employees who believe they may have been exposed to, may have symptoms of, returned from travel to a high-risk area, or test positive for COVID-19 and have self-quarantined.
Employees who need to care for family members, as defined by the Federal Medical Leave Act and/or Wisconsin Medical Leave Act, who are self quarantined and/or have been exposed to the coronavirus, exhibiting systems, or tested positive for COVID-19.
Employees who miss work will not have an absence counted against the institution’s Attendance Policy.
As healthcare workers, we believe all Wisconsin residents, and indeed, in the USA, should have paid sick leave, but for those of us on the front lines, this is non-negotiable.