Staff members and inmates at Oahu Community Correctional Center continue to test positive for COVID-19 at increasing rates, leaving the facility understaffed
For Immediate Release
Sunday, August 16, 2020
HONOLULU – Today, in response to continued unrest and unsafe conditions at Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC), United Public Workers/AFSCME Local 646 is calling on Governor Ige and the administration of the Department of Public Safety to do their jobs and ensure the safety of both employees and inmates. UPW represents corrections officers and staff members at OCCC and is preparing to take immediate legal action if these concerns are not promptly addressed.
With cases of COVID-19 continuing to skyrocket at OCCC, the State of Hawaii must immediately implement the necessary changes to ensure the safety of our members and communities:
· Increase communication between leadership and staff.
· Increase testing frequency of OCCC staff and inmates.
· Mandate that the State of Hawaii pays for all COVID-19 tests for employees.
· Institute long overdue hazard pay as required by the employees’ collective bargaining agreement as these frontline workers put their lives on the line.
· Distribute ample personal protective equipment (PPE) to all Department of Public Safety employees.
· Suspend the attendance program MOU during the pandemic.
“The department has failed us big time. We get updates about inmates and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 from the news before we hear anything from management,” said Darrell Wilcox, an Adult Corrections Officer at OCCC. “They are not testing everyone who was exposed to staff or inmates who tested positive. A courthouse was immediately shut down after a Deputy tested positive, yet it is business as usual at OCCC. We get disciplined if we try to take leave when we don’t feel safe coming to work.”
“It is unconscionable that the State of Hawaii would allow so many employees, inmates, and unsuspecting community members to become infected, and then allow for such unrest to take place,” said UPW Administrator Liz Ho. “We’ve been calling for more PPE, more testing, and more realistic options for battling overcrowding. Now, this virus is spiraling out of control. It’s time for the Department of Public Safety and Governor Ige to step up and do what must be done to protect the people of Hawaii. If the governor and the PSD are unable to do their jobs, then we will take the legal actions necessary to ensure our voice is heard and workers are protected. We will never stop fighting for our members, as they fight on the frontlines of this pandemic, risking their lives every day.”
Founded in 1944, United Public Workers (UPW)/AFSCME Local 646 represents over 13,000 working women and men across Hawaii, in both the public and private sectors, including hundreds of Department of Public Safety employees. To learn more about UPW, visit upwhawaii.org.
Liz Ho, Administrator