Page 7 - Work Force May 2020
P. 7

Pandemic gives DOT workers a special mission
  MONTICELLO — It’s not uncommon for CSEA members working for the state Department of Transportation to deploy to other regions after natural disasters or extreme winter weather.
Some DOT workers, however, have been traveling the state recently for an entirely new mission. They’re getting materials where they need
to be, taking supplies from a central location to COVID-19 testing sites across the state.
“There are masses out here that need the help and need the supplies,” said Richard Crawley, a shop steward for
Working nonstop
Each morning, workers meet at
a warehouse not too far from their regular worksite. They each receive their itinerary for the day, with each worker hitting different testing sites across the state. Their trucks are filled with the necessities and then workers then hit the road. They keep cleaning supplies with them and then disinfect trucks at the end of the day.
“We’ve brought N95 masks, gloves, gowns, Tyvek suits, and pallets of water to the test sites,” said Diane Bull, a longtime local activist. “We’ve even brought MREs for the members of the National Guard working there. More than anything, though, it’s about getting PPE to the test sites.”
Sites in higher volume locations, such as Long Island, New York City and Westchester County, require frequent supply drop-offs. Upstate, where the number of cases has been lower, our members are still helping workers stay prepared.
“A few places I went to up north were smaller set-ups at the local ambulance corps or firehouses,” said Bull. “Everyone has been appreciative when we arrive.”
DOT members have helped set up different state-run testing sites
DOT workers have been playing key roles in maintaining COVID-19 testing sites throughout the state, including ones in Staten Island, top, and Long Island, bottom. (Images provided by Richard Crawley.)
from the beginning. Along with National Guard members, county and state public health workers, and others, DOT workers first helped
set up the first mobile testing site in New Rochelle, the site of the initial outbreak.
They also helped elsewhere.
“Rich [Crawley] and I did a night up at Bear Mountain State Park when that site was getting set up,” said Austin Ihlefeldt, another volunteer. “It’s been great seeing how many people from DOT across the state have helped.”
“I’ve been a volunteer fireman for 18 years and I have nurses in my family, so I’m glad I’m able to do my part,” said Ihlefeldt, who serves as assistant chief of the Callicoon Center Volunteer Fire Department.
This special mission has meant long hours and time away from family for many, but our members say the work has been meaningful.
“It feels good to help our community during this critical time,” said Bull. “I know people who’ve gotten sick feel helpless, so we’re glad we are getting supplies to these sites that allow people to be tested and get on the road to recovery.”
Workers say the commitment they’ve made to doing their part won’t end any time soon.
“We’re on this mission until it’s done,” said Crawley.
— Jessica Ladlee
  the Floyd Culligan Sullivan County DOT Local. “It feels good
to be able to help
them and support them.”
Crawley and several other members of his local stepped up when a call for volunteers went
out. The deployment, as they call
it, has them working nearly every day delivering needed goods as far out as Stony Brook on Long Island to smaller counties upstate near the Canadian border.
 DOCCS industry workers adapt to help with pandemic
SHAWANGUNK — CSEA members working in our state prisons are ensuring resources needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic are quickly produced.
At Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County, our members oversaw inmates working in the facility’s garment shop until recently. In under a week, the
shop known for making t-shirts distributed to prisons across the state had a new mission.
“In under a week, they had the t-shirt shop completely transformed into a bottling facility for hand sanitizer,” said Shawangunk Correctional Facility Local President Jack Miller. “It was remarkable to
see how quickly they were up and running.”
CSEA member Denise Hulsey,
a general industrial training supervisor, oversees the program in coordination with several other staff. Inmates bottle hand sanitizer in smaller 2-ounce bottles, which are then distributed across the state. Hulsey and inmates emptied the shop of thousands of pounds of fabrics and sewing machines before the changeover took place.
“The construction team that came in installed filters that change the air in the room every 10 minutes,” said Hulsey. “The filters are so good that you can’t even smell the sanitizer. We have
protective equipment for the inmates and our fire safety crew comes in every 30 minutes to monitor the air quality.”
While DOCCS has shuttered other industry programs during the pandemic, workers bottling hand sanitizers are working long hours. Hulsey said at her facility, inmates are volunteering for the extra shifts.
“I’ve had great morale in my shop as far as helping produce what the state needs,” said Hulsey. “They’re worried about the impact the virus may have on their own families, so there’s a real incentive to get this stuff out there.”
Hand sanitizer is also being bottled at Great Meadow and Albion
Correctional Facilities. Hulsey joined other DOCCS staff at Great Meadow for training prior to her shop transitioning to a bottling facility.
In addition to meeting the critical need for hand sanitizer, Hulsey said the vocational program continues to serve its broader purpose.
“I am very passionate about what I do,” said Hulsey, who has worked nearly two years at the facility. “I teach the inmates not just to make a t-shirt or to bottle hand sanitizer, but to be able to get a job, do your best, work hard, and move up. If they’re being released, these are skills that carry over.”
— Jessica Ladlee
May 2020
The Work Force

   5   6   7   8   9