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Update for Employees Who Formally Worked in the Executive Complex (1010 Second Avenue)

Update for Employees Who Formally Worked in the Executive Complex (1010 Second Avenue)

A Brief History

When the City informed MEA on January 26, 2018 that an asbestos test conducted at the Executive Complex by inspectors for the County’s Air Pollution Control District (APCD) had come back positive, the City’s initial plan was to remove only those employees near the floors where the positive test results occurred.

However, MEA insisted that all employees be directed to leave the building immediately. The City complied. The City explained in an email sent to employees that it was releasing them from duty with pay “out of an abundance of caution” because the County found a “small amount” of construction debris that tested positive for asbestos in a “non-public area of the 19th floor.”

The City then contemplated directing employees to return to the building the following week, assuming that further testing “came back clean.” MEA instead demanded that NO employee be directed to ever set foot back in the Executive Complex until ALL construction had ended. Invoking MEA’s MOU Article 20 and California Labor Code §5551, MEA argued that no matter the results of any future tests, the positive result from the County’s APCD meant that the City MUST keep all employees out of this unsafe workplace and relocate them to alternate work sites.

Consistent with MEA’s demands, a few days later the City announced that all employees working at 1010 Second Avenue would be relocated and would not ever be directed back into the Executive Complex.

Employee Relocation Issues

Since January, MEA’s continuing priority has been to make sure employees were relocated to work locations that were safe, clean and had the necessary equipment available for them to do their jobs. In addition, MEA assigned Cathleen Higgins to be the single point of contact for employees so that she could assist them with any and all issues related to their move. Many relocations out of the Executive Complex have gone smoothly while others have required secondary relocations in response to MEA’s advocacy. For a few work locations, MEA continues today to demand that the City provide better work locations for its employees.

If you believe that your current work location is unacceptable for any reason, or if there is an accommodation that they City could offer to make your location work better for you, please contact Cathleen Higgins at MEA at 619-264-6632 or email her at chiggins@sdmea.org.

Concerns Related to Potential Asbestos Exposure

In this situation, as is true whenever an employee is injured on the job, potential claims arise which are not within MEA’s jurisdiction as collective bargaining representative. In California, all on-the-job injuries are covered by the State of California’s Workers’ Compensation Statute.

As the City has previously directed employees, to the extent an employee believes that they became ill as a result of any construction exposure while on duty at the Executive Complex, they should report this situation to the City’s Risk Management Department and fill out a claim form. For those who have no symptoms presently but worry about the potential for future illness as a result of any exposure to asbestos or other toxins, they too should report their concerns to Risk Management and submit a claim or a minor injury report.

For those who wish to get further Workers’ Comp advice from a non-City source, the Information and Assistance Officers at the State’s Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board can be helpful in answering questions. They are located at 7575 Metropolitan Drive, Suite 202, San Diego, CA 92108-4424. Their telephone number is 619-767-2082. This same unit also hosts a free “Injured Worker Workshop” at 10:00 a.m. on the last Friday of each month at this same address.

Going Forward…

We want to thank all of the employees who reached out and shared information with MEA regarding the Executive Complex since the construction issues began last summer. That contact from you is the reason we are able to effectively advocate on your behalf. We encourage you to continue that communication and contact Cathleen if you have any specific issues that MEA can help address. Call 619-264-6632 or email her at chiggins@sdmea.org.