Ebola Telephone Town Hall with AFT

Date: Thursday, Oct. 23

Time: 8:15 p.m. Eastern time

Register today.

Ebola has been on everybody’s mind, and AFT members across the nation are doing everything they can to be ready to care for, and answer questions from, those who come through their doors—in hospitals, patients’ homes, ambulatory care centers, public health clinics and schools.

Since this summer, our union has been working on several fronts to both address and contain Ebola, from working with our colleagues in West Africa to ensuring American government officials understand the steps necessary to safely care for Ebola patients.

Last week, with our nurse and healthcare leaders and activists, the AFT held a press conference to disseminate the three steps we believe are absolutely necessary to address this potential, but eminently containable, crisis. We made the same points privately to the Obama administration and used my New York Times column to similarly educate the public. (link) And U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) presented a letter I wrote on behalf of our union at last week’s House committee hearing about the United States’ response to Ebola. This letter was the only submission from organized labor at that hearing.

This morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance for hospital healthcare workers on Ebola preparedness in our healthcare system. The agency, for the most part, listened to us.

Armed with these new guidelines, we are working to ensure they are being implemented at every healthcare facility. They are not mandatory. And as we learned from our work on protecting our members from H1N1, the heavy lift will be making sure our employers do the right thing.

As we continue partnering with officials on solutions that will equip our members to deal with Ebola in the workplace, please join me for a special telephone town hall meeting with all AFT state and local affiliate presidents.

Given the widespread concern about Ebola, we are including all our leaders on this call, not just our frontline nurses and healthcare providers.

The telephone town hall will address the new CDC guidelines, which echo the key points from the AFT’s plan, as well as a number of remaining issues that need attention. Just yesterday, I spoke with top officials from the White House, the CDC, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services about the need to limit potential exposure of health professionals through the use of specially trained volunteer care teams. We also discussed the need to ensure pay for workers who are placed in precautionary isolation following exposure to the virus. The positive response I got from CDC Director Tom Frieden and others was positive; our leaders clearly want to continue working with us on developing solutions. We must be sure to impress upon the agency the urgent need for expanded guidance for nonhospital settings.