UPE met with the Court via teleconference regarding the Court’s reopening plan. Beginning June 15, 2020 some employees (not all) will be required to come back to work. This will commence the reopening of the Courts and end the 5% differential for essential employees who have been working in the Court during the pandemic. UPE requested that the 5% continue since not all employees will be back at work and some will be on paid administrative leave. The Court said no, the 5% will end Saturday June 13, 2020.
UPE focused our questions on the health and safety of our members. All members of the public, including staff, and judges will have their temperature checked as they walk into the Courthouse. If a person’s temperature is over 100.4 degrees, they will not be allowed to stay in the Courthouse. Everyone must also wear a mask. Cleaning supplies such as wipes and hand sanitizer will continue to be available. Sanitizer machines will be outside every elevator. Only two (2) people will be able to use the elevator at a time. Janitorial services will perform routine and extra cleaning. UPE asked if any front counter interaction will occur with members of the public, and if so, we are requesting barriers such as plexiglass. The Court will look into our inquiry and proposal.
UPE also asked questions regarding employees who might have an underlying chronic medical condition related to COVID-19. Would the Court be able to accommodate telework or paid administrative leave for those impacted employees? The Court indicated that they will, “work with them”.
At CMJC, one arraignment department for in person traffic will likely occur on 6/22/20. This means seven (7) additional staff will be working in the building. UPE requested the method of selection and if there will be a rotation. The Court stated, “We will need to get back to you”. Furthermore, four (4) employees for GDS will be relocating to CMJC effective 7/13/20. UPE asked if this will be temporary and the court stated, “Yes, until the end of the year, and the four employees volunteered”.
On 7/6/20, the Court plans on opening two traffic trial departments, this would result in six (6) additional people working in the building. Again, UPE asked who and what method of selection is being proposed, and for how long? The Court will “get back to us”.
At FRC, the Court announced that all courtroom clerks and court room reporters will return to the building July 6, 2020; until then, they will continue to rotate.
Deputy clerks at FRC will continue to rotate, but increase from 20 to 27. The rotation does not have an end date as of now. The Court will “get back to us” for an end date. Employees will staff the incoming reception line, provide parties and attorney access to their court files, and begin accepting appointments to file documents in the clerk’s office. Other DC’s will be brought in “as needed” for workload. We asked numerous questions such as will it be on appointment only, walk in, or both? In addition, work space cubicles are too close to one another which violates the social distancing rules. The Court will, “look into it”.
Finally, for downtown courts, UPE requested the reopening phases and timelines. We did receive notice that Criminal trials will begin 6/15/20.
In sum, UPE received a shell of a plan. We don’t believe that the Court has fully thought out the reopening plan effectively and or transparently.
We hope to gather more information in the coming days.
Thanks to the following Court Office Technical board members who participated in the meet and confer: Brooke Ryan, Bonnie Loriga, Shawn Boxer, Lizette Morris, and Suzette Cade.