VA Employees Demand Safe Working Conditions & Protections for Veterans

Secretary Wilkie, President Trump and Congress

We are proud AFGE members employed by of the VA Healthcare System. We work around the clock every day of the year to provide high quality care and a unique form of service tailored specifically to our most deserving of patients, America’s veterans.  

We are not receiving the proper staffing, personal protective equipment (PPE), education, and communication from the VA, or isolation rooms we need to safely care for COVID-19 veterans. This is unconscionable. At a moment when we are being asked to step up and protect people, we must be able to protect ourselves as well.

We demand the following:

1. PPE: The VA shall provide all VA employees with the highest level PPE. The VA must ensure negative pressure rooms remain functional at all times during use. Highest level of PPE must include PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator), coveralls meeting ASTM (American Standard for Testing and Materials) standard, gloves, temporary scrubs, and other protections.
2. TELEWORK: The VA shall provide the option to telework to all VA employees who are not required for face-to-face interaction.
3. COMMUNICATION: The VA shall communicate clearly and immediately with all employees, including notifying employees when there is a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case. This notification shall go out to all employees and include unit or work area, and date of the confirmed case.
4. TRAINING: The VA shall provide education and training for all employees, including on protective gear, donning and doffing, and all other protocols relating to COVID-19. Employees that are pulled or re-assigned to units outside of their specialty shall receive proper training.
5. PLANNING: Given the 4th mission of the VA, the VA shall plan for a surge of patients with possible or confirmed COVID-19, including plans to isolate, cohort, and to provide safe staffing.
6. WEATHER AND SAFETY LEAVE: The VA shall conduct a thorough investigation after a COVID patient or employee is identified to ensure all staff and individuals who were exposed are identified and notified. Any employee who is exposed to COVID-19 will be placed on weather and safety leave for at least 14 days and will maintain pay and other benefits during the full length of that leave.
7. HAZARD PAY: The VA shall provide VA employees with hazard pay or environmental differential pay for working in dangerous conditions.
8. IMMUNOCOMPROMISED MEMBERS: Employees who are immunocompromised shall receive reasonable accommodation, including options such as re-assignment or work from home.  
9. RIGHT TO BARGAIN: The VA and AFGE shall form a joint COVID Task Force at the national level and every facility to enhance communication, coordination and problem solving. The VA shall bargain with the union over the response to the COVID-19 crisis.
10. TESTING: The VA shall provide COVID-19 testing to employees who request testing after exposure.
11. MENTAL HEALTH: All employees shall be provided mental health care upon request.


Petition by
AFGE VA COVID
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sponsored by
Default_group_icon
Washington, DC

To: Secretary Wilkie, President Trump and Congress
From: James Totten

We demand the following:

1. PPE: The VA shall provide all VA employees with the highest level PPE. The VA must ensure negative pressure rooms remain functional at all times during use. Highest level of PPE must include PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator), coveralls meeting ASTM (American Standard for Testing and Materials) standard, gloves, temporary scrubs, and other protections.

2. TELEWORK: The VA shall provide the option to telework to all VA employees who are not required for face-to-face interaction.

3. COMMUNICATION: The VA shall communicate clearly and immediately with all employees, including notifying employees when there is a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case. This notification shall go out to all employees and include unit or work area, and date of the confirmed case.

4. TRAINING: The VA shall provide education and training for all employees, including on protective gear, donning and doffing, and all other protocols relating to COVID-19. Employees that are pulled or re-assigned to units outside of their specialty shall receive proper training.

5. PLANNING: Given the 4th mission of the VA, the VA shall plan for a surge of patients with possible or confirmed COVID-19, including plans to isolate, cohort, and to provide safe staffing.

6. WEATHER AND SAFETY LEAVE: The VA shall conduct a thorough investigation after a COVID patient or employee is identified to ensure all staff and individuals who were exposed are identified and notified. Any employee who is exposed to COVID-19 will be placed on weather and safety leave for at least 14 days and will maintain pay and other benefits during the full length of that leave.

7. HAZARD PAY: The VA shall provide VA employees with hazard pay or environmental differential pay for working in dangerous conditions.

8. IMMUNOCOMPROMISED MEMBERS: Employees who are immunocompromised shall receive reasonable accommodation, including options such as re-assignment or work from home.

9. RIGHT TO BARGAIN: The VA and AFGE shall form a joint COVID Task Force at the national level and every facility to enhance communication, coordination and problem solving. The VA shall bargain with the union over the response to the COVID-19 crisis.

10. TESTING: The VA shall provide COVID-19 testing to employees who request testing after exposure.

11. MENTAL HEALTH: All employees shall be provided mental health care upon request.