Atomic Council Virtual Meeting Addresses Covid-19 Policy Issues

With the number of Covid-19 cases surging across the U.S., USW Vice President Roxanne Brown convened a virtual USW Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC) meeting on Nov. 19 to help assess atomic sites’ coronavirus protocols.

While the Covid-19 policies vary contractor to contractor and state to state, the biggest issue concerned workers getting paid under different protocol scenarios. For example, at some sites, if someone is healthy, but they were exposed to a person who is sick with or tested positive for Covid-19, they are sent home to quarantine with full pay.

But, if they get sick with coronavirus, they quarantine and go on sickness and accident (S&A) pay, which is not full pay. This policy encourages some workers to not get tested for Covid-19 and to go to work even if they feel ill.

Another scenario regarding Covid-19 protocols and pay concerns the travel policy at many sites. If a worker travels to a place with a high Covid-19 positivity rate, they have to self-isolate for 14 days at home without pay or use additional personal leave time. This policy could be an incentive for workers to not be honest about where they spent their vacations and what they did.

Brown requested that every atomic local send to her their site’s Covid-19 protocols so she can work with the council’s attorney and USW policy analysts in devising best practice guidelines that might help locals in their discussions with contractors.

Brown also said that another virtual meeting with the AEWC will likely occur the week after Thanksgiving to follow up on the Covid-19 situation.

Funding ending soon

The Department of Energy (DOE) has funding for Covid-19 pay through Dec. 31, 2020. For employers with fewer than 500 employees who are covered under the Families First Act, funding for that program ends that day as well. The same time limit applies to certain types of workers, like those who are contractors and receive 1099 forms at tax time, who are eligible for unemployment pay.

Currently, the government and Department of Energy is funded through December 11, 2020. Congress will need to either pass a full budget, sometimes called an omnibus, or a continuing resolution prior to the December 11 deadline for continued funding.

With so many families and small businesses hurting because of the pandemic, the USW is urging Congress to pass a much-needed stimulus bill.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222