My name is Freddie Williams, Jr. and I am a member of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME). I have served Arlington County in the Water, Sewer, and Streets division of Environmental Services for six years. Currently, I work as a Crew Leader supervising the work of three road crews. I take pride in my work and I want to see the county continue to prioritize our safety.
While the work we do has us out in the community and in close contact with the public, the county’s implemented measures to comply with the ETS. This has meant some measure of protection for us. Prior to the pandemic, it was typical practice for road crews to ride out to job sites four people in each vehicle. These conditions made physical distancing impossible..
However, in response to the newly implemented VOSH requirements, the county has enacted the practice of having employees ride alone. The impact of that decision alone has made a world of difference in mitigating risk of potential exposure.
We need the Board to make the emergency temporary standard permanent so it continues to protect employees against the risk of exposure. The risk presented by COVID-19 has not passed and it is of the utmost importance that employers have clear directives as to what steps must be taken to protect employees and the public. Strong enforcement mechanisms will mean more compliance. Virginia has shown leadership in being first in the nation to enact these temporary emergency standards, and they can continue to lead by making the standards permanent. We urge you to protect Virginian workers and our families.