Richmond union members protest outside VA Hospital for hazard pay, PPE

Posted at 12:05 AM, May 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 08:41:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A protest outside the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA hospital in Richmond was held on Friday evening.

Local union members of the American Federation of Government Employees rallied in front of the main entrance demanding hazard pay, resting for every staff member, and Personal Protection Equipment among other safety demands in the wake of COVID-19.

In a press release sent Friday evening after the protest, the VA hospital system responded with the following:

"The Central Virginia VA Health Care System’s PPE practices have helped limit its COVID-19 employee infection rates to 0.9 percent of the workforce – much lower than other health care systems. By contrast, 4.4 percent of University of Washington Medicine employees have tested positive [] and 2.1 percent of Henry Ford Health System []’s workforce has tested positive.

CVHCS continues to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in accordance with CDC guidelines, and all employees have the appropriate PPE, as per those guidelines.

All federal employees, including VA employees, accrue paid annual and sick leave. Per VA and OPM regulations, as well as CDC guidance, VA encourages to employees to use paid sick leave if they are ill, experiencing symptoms of any illness, or diagnosed with COVID-19.

Staff may also apply for advanced sick leave, annual leave or telework, if they are asymptomatic, have not tested positive and feel the need to self-quarantine. Additionally, weather and safety leave may be granted if an employee is asymptomatic, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and cannot telework."