Many of the 50,000 CWA members in New Jersey provide essential public services, including healthcare and direct care services, as well as public facing services in motor vehicle agencies, unemployment offices, and regulatory and inspection services. Jobs that were previously not considered to be risky have now become dangerous during COVID. As usual, we can't rely upon management to keep us safe, so New Jersey National Staff and Locals, with the help of Micki Siegel de Hernandez, CWA's National Deputy Health and Safety Director, developed a new Health & Safety Committee training program that focuses on keeping members and families safe in an unsafe environment, and building the union at the workplace.
The program focuses on building rank-and-file worksite Health & Safety Committees where committee members become the experts on safe environments, including understanding air-borne contagions, social distancing, cleanliness needs, what happens when there is a primary or secondary COVID exposure, and how workers can make demands and gather information to keep the workplace safe.
On August 25, 105 rank-and-file local leaders participated in the first round of training, which covered detailed information about how to avoid and prevent virus spread, along with how to engage members using surveys, worksite plans, meetings, and actions to mobilize and build power at the workplace. CWA National and Local Staff are now working Local by Local to implement this critical worksite-driven program.