Letter: Missouri’s most vulnerable state workers need help

Letter: Missouri’s most vulnerable state workers need help

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Organization tries to place foster kids with family members

Heather Roberts, 28, an extreme recruitment specialist with Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition in Missouri, talks to a woman in an apartment on Labadie Street on Thursday, July 21, 2016, as she tries to locate relatives of two foster care children she is trying to place with family members. The woman told Roberts that the relative she was looking for had moved away three years earlier. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

The pandemic clearly shines a light on the importance of government services. Missouri state employees are among the most vulnerable essential workers. Examples include the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division workers who investigate abuse and neglect, and whose work supports both birth and foster families. These workers protect and assure the safety of adults and workers in the justice and mental health systems.

Gov. Mike Parson has failed to protect these workers. We urge him to do four things: First, develop a uniform statewide policy that classifies essential workers versus non-essential, and that specifies job positions that can be done remotely. All reasonable requests for telework should be evaluated and implemented whenever possible. Second, grant paid sick leave that includes a minimum of 80 hours of leave for all essential and non-telework employees who have been exposed to a person with a positive COVID-19 test.

Third, grant hazard pay of 25% of base pay for every quarter-hour worked for essential workers who perform job duties in the field such as home and facility visits.

Finally, I urge Gov. Mike Parson to honor existing collective bargaining agreements with state employees. This is the honorable thing to do during this unique crisis. Our state workers perform the tasks that strengthen the common good of all of us. They deserve better.

Ruth Ehresman • St. Louis

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