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Guild gets info on Health App

The Guild has worked vigorously since the coronavirus pandemic struck to obtain information from the Times Union and to make suggestions in the spirit of cooperation and more importantly to protect everyone’s health.

The Company will soon be issuing information about a Health APP to be used on smartphones for a daily check of everyone’s health when dealing with COVID-19.

We feel it’s important that everyone see the Company’s response to our questions which were formatted with the assistance of our International Representative Melissa Nelson (who just happens to be a former Albany Guild president!)

Key responses deal with discipline, health insurance and the option of completing a paper form.

Here is the email sent to Vice President Ken Crowe by Human Resources Manager Ruth Fantasia on July 27.

Dear Ken,

In response to your letter of July 20 requesting information on the Health Self-Assessment App, it may help if I begin with an explanation of how the app works and how the information is handled.

Like the written forms we are currently using and which are required by NY, the purpose of the app is to help the company comply with the NY requirement as well as remind everyone to think about their health before going into the office or working in the field. It could also help identify employees with potential cases of COVID-19 prior to their entering the workplace.

When the employee opens the app, they answer a few simple questions: Company Name, Dept. Entity. The app automatically fills in the date and state. The app then moves to the page with a place to select your work status for the day and the five health questions. Once the employee answers the questions, they hit submit. This again is no different that the paper form practice that has been in place since June 1, 2020.

Once submitted, an email is generated based on the employees’ answers to the questions. If all questions are answered “no” the employee receives an email with a green check mark indicating that they should go to work. If the employee answers “yes” to any one question, an email is generated with a red “x” indicating do not go to work. In the case of “Red X” result, the administrator(s) are sent an email telling them that this employee has “answered yes to one or more questions on the screening app.” The administrators do not receive any other information. The administrators are limited to five employees consisting of HR and management. The administrators will confirm that all employees are completing the form prior to enter the building and that employees are cleared to return.

Answers to your specific questions are below and the documentation that will be sent out to employees, managers and administrators is attached.

    1. A detailed description of the training managers will undergo in order to effectively implement and respond to the testing process identified in the health assessment process, including but not limited to:
      Not applicable. The process is same as the current process. Employees are now just completing an app instead of a paper form.

        1. what entity will be handling such training; N/A
        2. where and when will it be administered; N/A
        3. what follow up will be included in the training process. N/A
    2. A detailed description of training to be provided to employees for the successful implementation and effective daily usage of the APP.
      The app will be introduced at an All Hands meeting. Then all employees will be provided with instructions on how to download and use the app and a fact sheet on how the process works.

    3. A detailed description of Times Union management’s response to employee usage of the APP, including but not limited to:
        1. If the employees’ daily use of the APP will be a clearly communicated job expectation required by the Times Union, including when and how that requirement will be conveyed;
          It’s the same as the current use of forms. Additionally, those working in the field will complete the app as well.

        2. What, if any, disciplinary action will be attached to Times Union employees’ use of the APP;
          N/A. If an employee refuses to use the app, they can continue to complete the paper forms prior to enter the building.

        3. What, if any, type of guidance will be provided by Times Union management to employees’ seeking COVID-19 testing or in response to a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, including handling the cost or costs attached to testing and COVID-19 related medical bills.
          Employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be instructed to follow medical advice. Currently the costs of COVID-19 testing and treatment are being covered at no charge by the individuals’ health plans and/or the medical facility they use. Employees are free to visit myHearst.com for COVID-19 information.

        4. What specific guidance will be provided to those employees either working from home or from a non-Times Union plant location (depots, bureaus, etc.) when answering with a YES answer to any APP survey question.
          The same guidance that they would receive if working at the main office.
    4. Identify the specific way or ways in which the Times Union will:Maintain the security of employees’ personal medical data.
        1. The app does not collect any employees’ medical data. It simply responds to a “yes” answer by creating an email to the employee and an email to the administrators informing all that the employee has answered at least one question with a “yes” and should not report to work.

        2. Accomplish the permanent purging of the employees’ digital medical records captured daily by the health screening APP.
          Again, the app does not collect medical data. However, the administrators are instructed to purge all emails related to the app daily.
    5. The details of plans the Times Union is contemplating for a joint labor-management response to the usage of the health screening APP including the potential involvement of Guild stewards when Guild-represented employees respond affirmatively to any of the APP survey questions.
      If an employee is told not to go to the office/plant/depot/bureau, the instructions tell employees to contact their manager and union steward, if applicable. In the case of the Guild, it is the choice of the employee to inform the union, or not.

Regards,

Ruth

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