I-Team: Union speaks out on PPE, suspension of collective bargaining agreements

coronavirus

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — SEIU Local 1107, a union that represents healthcare and county workers, sounded off on Clark County suspending collective bargaining agreements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The I-Team spoke with union Executive Director Grace Vergara-Mactal Wednesday. She called out hospitals, Clark County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vergara-Mactal said the union’s members work in several Las Vegas Valley hospitals and the public sector. She brought up the issues they’re having with personal protective equipment and a lack of coronavirus testing for employees.

According to her, hospitals’ reliance on CDC guidelines is just not good enough.

“What the employer will say is, well, ‘we’re following the CDC guidelines.’ What we’re saying is you can do more,” said Vergara-Mactal. “You can do more that what the CDC guidelines is. The CDC, in my opinion, is failing. The CDC is failing America. The CDC is failing the healthcare workers.”

She said Clark County suspending collective bargaining agreements is another issue the union is facing. The union released a statement condemning County Manager Yolanda King’s decision.

The statement reads:

“On March 31, SEIU Local 1107 received notification from Clark County Manager Yolanda King that a decision was made to suspend collective bargaining agreements with SEIU Local 1107-represented workers. This decision impacts nearly 9,000 workers and their families – including frontline workers across Clark County and healthcare workers at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada.

During this unprecedented crisis, SEIU Local 1107 has kept an open line of communication with the county and UMC, working in partnership to resolve and clarify issues impacting our members. In this time of uncertainty, SEIU Local 1107 members have been resilient, patient and flexible, putting their own health – and that of their families – at risk, to ensure that essential public and healthcare services continue to run effectively and efficiently.

Ms. King’s decision to strip away collective bargaining agreements for thousands of workers is dangerous and reactive. With Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages in Nevada and across the country, our frontline heroes now must contend with doing their jobs safely, while also fearing for their livelihood. 

Ms. King claims that she is ‘extremely thankful to every member of the County family’. However, her poor judgement sends the opposite message to the thousands of hard-working Nevadans that continue to humbly serve the public. 

It is clear that Ms. King is out of touch with the workforce and the needs of Clark County and UMC. This decision is unacceptable – a betrayal and blatant attack against frontline healthcare and public workers. 

SEIU Local 1107 members will not stand on the sidelines. We demand that the Clark County Board of Commissioners take immediate action and reverse this attack on working families.”

Vergara-Mactal said while workers are on the front lines, this is not the time to strip away their rights.

The I-Team reached out to Clark County about the decision, and spokesman Erik Pappa issued the following statement:

“We are thankful for our employees’ selfless dedication to public service and appreciate all that they do. But current emergency conditions require that we suspend all collective bargaining agreements to allow us to more quickly change employees’ schedules and take other steps to make us all safer while providing critical services to our community. This was one of many necessary measures that we have used to make the County more responsive during this extraordinary time.”

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