Update on CFS Clerical Worker Safety Demands

Dear OCEA Member,

As you know, yesterday’s public cries for safety compelled SSA/CFS Management to call for a meeting to receive worker input on implementing telecommuting schedules for CFS Clerical Workers. You can read the Voice of OC article about the rally here.

Today, OCEA clerical member leaders Sandra Ramos, Stephanie Marquina, Doug Windsor, and Virginia Acosta were joined by OCEA staff to speak on the issue with Deputy Division Director Ken Santini, CFS Division Director Christine Snapper, and HR representatives. This morning’s meeting was focused on dispelling myths about the efficiency of last year’s telecommuting, and taking steps toward securing and expanding telecommuting during this current surge of COVID. Workers and OCEA staff stressed that immediate action is needed and that management’s lack of urgency is putting workers at further risk and creating further distrust. 

While matters such as Court and statutory conditions, workload, and client confidentiality concerns were discussed, workers spoke truth to power on how these excuses fall flat and create inequity in treatment among workers. Further, workers emphasized that their direct supervisors know their work better than upper management and are in a better position to evaluate the business and in-office needs. Management acknowledged this and stated that today they will be asking supervisors to start meeting with individual staff to assess their telecommuting abilities. These assessments and confirmation of telecommuting arrangements should be known for all by Wednesday 1/26/22, if not earlier. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW: In order to get this done quickly, please work with your supervisors and provide them the following information: 

  1. If you would like to telecommute or if you would like to decline;
  2. If you would like to telecommute, let your supervisor know how many days you feel you are able to work remotely while completing your job duties;
  3. If you are open to a temporary 4/10 schedule;
  4. Let them know if you have access to a VPN or RDP, if this information wasn’t already collected;
  5. If you have a County issued laptop, make sure your laptop is updated. Management said IT would be reaching out to the approximately 40 staff who need their laptop software updated.

OCEA staff also pressed management to keep assessment data to be able to mobilize quickly again if another COVID surge occurs in the future. A follow up meeting is scheduled for Thursday 1/27/22 with Management, member leaders, OCEA staff, and HR staff. While there are no guarantees that each individual will be able to telecommute, the actions we took together this week have been a significant step in the right direction. 

Member leaders reminded Management of a critical point: Clerical workers are not just paper pushers as some would perceive. CFS Clerical Workers know the impact of their work on the children and families they serve and they are passionate about ensuring their role in the system of delivering services is met. The demand to telecommute is not an attempt to shirk their duties, it is an effort to be able to serve clients during this pandemic without interruption and for the safety of themselves and their families. 

Workers are demanding respect, a safe work arrangement, and equitable treatment. It is not so much to ask.

In Solidarity,

Saliem Aregaye, Labor Relations Representative
Kate Wolf, Labor Relations Representative

Publication Date: January 21, 2022