April 03, 2020

AFSCME urges Families First coverage for all employees

AFSCME members are working hard during the public health emergency posed by the coronavirus, often on the front lines where they are at greater risk for exposure to COVID-19.

The newly enacted federal law, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA,) provides for paid sick leave of up to ten days when employees or families members are symptomatic or quarantined due to COVID-19, and expanded family leave rights when employees lack child care because of COVID-19 precautions.

The law covers all public sector employers and all private sector employers with less than 500 employees. However, a key provision allows law, employers to choose to exclude certain employees like health care providers and emergency responders.

AFSCME Council 31 believes that no employees should be excluded from coverage under the act and is urging employers not to exercise their prerogative for such exclusions.

The union reacted swiftly when the Illinois Department of Central Management Services sent out a a notice to employees on April 1 that indicated the State intended to exclude some number of its employees. 

The next day, Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch sent a strongly-worded letter to CMS making clear the union’s objection to that policy—and urging the Pritzker Administration to allow all state employees to exercise their rights under the act.

“AFSCME strongly objects to any state employees being excluded from coverage under this law,” the letter states. “I want to make very clear we do not believe it is in the best interest of the State of Illinois for CMS to make such exclusions. We are calling on the Administration to permit all state employees to access these new leave rights—which are urgently needed in many instances.”

The union acknowledged the difficulty posed by the coronavirus pandemic and emphasized the fac that tens of thousands of state employees are rising to the challenge. The letter urged the state to work “constructively with our union to protect the health and lives of employees and those who depend on them.”

Click here to download AFSCME’s letter to CMS.

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