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I hope this message finds all of our members safe and healthy.  Today marks the three week date since the Suffolk County Courts merged all essential court operations into one location at the Cohalan Court Complex in Central Islip on March 17.  The decision to merge all essential operations to a central location in Suffolk County was a huge decision that I believe saved lives. The whole purpose of merging all court operations to Central Islip, and limiting court business to only essential court business, was to limit the exposure of court employees and members of the public to the COVID-19 virus.  In speaking to Warren yesterday, there are only about 100 court employees working at Cohalan. It means 750 of our members are not at risk for exposure in the courthouse. That is a good thing.

Going forward, the Suffolk County Courts will continue to remain open solely for essential court business. Court proceedings will be done in a "virtual court" setting in which court appearances will be through Skype. It is a plan that is still being worked out but it is anticipated that the roll out will be completed by April 13. With the use of virtual courts, some of our members will be directed to work from home in order to further limit their exposure to the virus.  As of now, I am told that the members that will be directed to work from home will be Court Reporters and Court Interpreters. It is possible that this could be expanded to other titles down the road, but it is too soon to know. The employees that work from home will have their work location changed, from a specific courthouse location, to their home by the District Administrative Judge's office. Up until April 13, members who work from home will continue to receive minute for minute comp time for the regular shift hours they work at home. As of April 13, those employees who work from home will not receive minute for minute comp time for the regular shift hours they work from home.  This does not affect any member reporting to work in court buildings. They will continue to receive minute for minute comp time for the regular shift hours they work. Members who are not working, and are not out on any other leave, will continue to be on excused leave.

 

The safety of our members is first and foremost as far as we are concerned.  The less members reporting to work at courthouses will mean that more members are at limited risk for exposure.  This is extremely important. People should not forget  that this virus is deadly and is spread easily. Receiving comp time for hours worked, even if it is work from home, is a secondary issue. We will carefully examine this issue, and consult with our attorney, over the next several weeks to determine how we will proceed. Right now, our main concern is that our members will be safe.

Shaun Tomkins , our AFLAC representative, has asked me to share with you some benefits that are being offered by AFLAC to our members during this crisis. I have attached for your information correspondence I received from him.

Over the years, the owners of P.C. Richard & Son, a family owned and operated business, have been a reliable and consistent supporter of the SCCEA and our members. Joe Morrone, the Director of Sales at P.C. Richard & Son, always strives to find the product the member is looking for at the most affordable price. The support and attention provided to our members by the ownership and sales team at P.C. Richard & Son is unparalleled. With the economic downturn/impact associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, P.C. Richard & Son needs our support. If you are shopping for electronics, home appliances, mattresses, etc. please think about purchasing these items from our friends at P.C. Richard & Sons. Feel free to contact Joe Morrone direct for any help you may need with making a purchase from P.C. Richard (Joe.morrone@pcrichard.com ). All store managers are available to service our needs with the following protocols: Store Hours 10am-5pm, Curbside Pickup at the stores, Curbside Delivery to you, Farmingdale Warehouse Pick up.

Over the next several days our members, of various different faiths, will be celebrating their holiday in a very different way because we cannot gather with family and friends. These are very difficult times in which hope is what keeps us motivated. Hope that we get through this without losing anybody we love. Hope that this crisis will be over soon.  Hope that we have an even greater appreciation for life and the little things we always took for granted. I pray for all of our members, for all of the first responders, for all of the people in the medical community, and for all the essential workers who risk their own well being in order to make our lives as safe and comfortable as is possible during this time that has taken a toll on each of us. Please remain safe.

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