MEXICO — As many Oswego County Department of Social Services employees worked remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, county building and grounds crew members were preparing for the workers’ and the public’s return by outfitting workstations to help protect against exposure to COVID-19.
CSEA members Rick Doten, Rob Godfrey, Mike Fortier, and Rich Coon built Plexiglas shields for workstations at which employees might come into contact with the public.
“For any workstation that had the public coming [into contact with], we built these so they could slide papers under and just put the panels up so that we could protect the people on either side,” Doten said.
And as staff slowly began to come back, members were ecstatic with the changes.
“The employees liked them obviously and they thought they should be permanent because any time you’re interacting with the public, like during flu season, there’s a risk to the workers,” Godfrey said.
But it wasn’t just putting up the Plexiglas shields around the building, the crew’s workshop actually got transformed into a distribution center for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gowns, gloves and hand sanitizer.
Fortier said the employees would work on building and installing the Plexiglas structures in the morning and would spend the rest of their day delivering PPE to various worksites across the county ensuring that other essential employees could be safe, too.
Oswego County Local President Helen Chetney said that some members were apprehensive about returning to the office, but hopefully with some of the safety precautions our union family helped put in place, they’ll feel more comfortable in their workplace.
— Nicholas Newcomb
Above, Rob Godfrey, left, and Rick Doten sit across from the Plexiglas shields they installed at the Oswego DSS building. Now members will have a layer of protection when interacting with the public.