Baltimore, MD – Today, union members from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) local 424 and the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE-SEIU) local R3-19 hosted a protest – with socially distanced participants – to highlight employee concerns of lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, telework and hazardous duty pay – at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center within the VA Maryland Health Care System.
“Baltimore VA leadership has abandoned front-line employees by failing to test those exposed to COVID-19 and by not providing adequate amounts of PPE. Multiple employees and patients have tested positive for the virus, but leadership has not shared that information with the employees,” said Regina Smith, AFGE Local 424 President. “By refusing to engage with the unions and be transparent with employees, VA leadership is continuing to jeopardize the health and safety of VA employees, our families, veterans, and the communities we live in.”
During a shift change, AFGE and NAGE members shared their stories from the last few weeks. VA employees cited the lack of PPE, nonexistent testing, and inconsistent and changing policies, especially regarding telework and the lack of communication from VA administrators.
“These are difficult and unprecedented times. The entire world is paying attention to the health care sector. The public is noticing the hard work and service that our members are providing during this pandemic,” said Manny Guzman, NAGE Local R3-19 President. “We expect the VA administration to meet the needs of health care workers and compensate us accordingly during this terrible pandemic.”