• The Star Staff

Union: Lax protocols at 9-1-1 System has led to spread of coronavirus among employees

By The Star Staff

Aramis Cruz Domínguez, president of the Puerto Rico Communications Workers Union CWA Local 3010, an organization that represents 9-1-1 System Bureau workers, charged Monday that the head of the agency allegedly has put its employees at risk because health and safety protocol is not being fully followed.

The union leader also charged that several employees have already tested positive for COVID-19 and the response of the bureau has been insufficient.

“In recent days we have come to learn of employees who unfortunately have tested positive for COVID-19. One of them was a telecommunication employee who works the night shift in the main center in Guaynabo and for that reason the center was closed and all employees were sent to undergo testing,” Cruz Domínguez said in a written communication.

“Unfortunately, there were additional employees who tested positive who had contact with personnel from both centers and the measures taken by the Bureau were insufficient.”

The 9-1-1 System Bureau has not taken into consideration the suggestions that the union has presented to minimize the risk of infection, Cruz Domínguez said.

“We have suggested that the Bureau activate a quartering plan. This way we can guarantee that we have enough employees within the facilities of 9-1-1, safe and ready to take calls from citizens,” she said. “We have also suggested that the Bureau send all employees for testing every 15-20 days. The Bureau simply tells us that it is not necessary.”

The union leader further noted that the Bureau has not done enough to enable its telecommunication employees to work remotely since the technology that allows it exists.

“If the 9-1-1 funds are used correctly, it may be possible,” she said.

Law 32-2020, legislation that was drafted by the union, recently went into effect, she said.

“This law allows 9-1-1 funds to be used solely and exclusively for the purpose of emergency calls, and once again the Bureau intends to divert $2.3 million to the Public Safety Department, something that is totally prohibited by federal regulation, instead of using these funds to enable a remote system and to guarantee the continuity of the service in times of pandemic,” Cruz Domínguez said.

The union leader thanked all 9-1-1 System Bureau employees for their exemplary work and sacrifice during the pandemic.

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