By CSLEA Senior Counsel Ryan Navarre
SACRAMENTO - As soon as California Department and Public Health issued its December 3rd “Stay at Home” order based on Regional ICU capacity, the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) was immediately discussing the impact of the order on DMV operations with DMV and CalHR. Shortly after the State chose to close most state offices for at least three weeks, it became evident that DMV was considered critical and essential and would not be closing its doors. As such, CSLEA immediately focused on doing what it could to protect licensing registration examiners (LREs) during this critical surge of COVID cases throughout California. CSLEA was in daily communication with DMV and CalHR emphasizing the need for drive tests to be suspended during the Stay at Home order and while the State decided to close state offices. CSLEA attorneys emphasized that positive cases arising out of DMV have skyrocketed in recent weeks and is very comparable to the figures being seen statewide. In order to protect the employees, their families, and the public, it was imperative that drives be suspended as it is impossible to socially distance during a drive test and evidence suggests that the likelihood of asymptomatic COVID drive test applicants is higher than it has ever been at any time. CSLEA expressed that LREs have been diligently performing drives tests for months during this pandemic with PPE and an inability to socially distance, however, during this surge, the risk to LREs’ health and safety was too great to just ignore behind DMV’s argument that the work is critical and essential. Something could be done and should be done.
After numerous emails and conversations, CSLEA met with DMV Labor Relations and Field Operations Division on December 9th. During the meeting, CSLEA argued that the DMV must take immediate action to protect LREs while the virus is spreading throughout California. DMV was intent on maintaining services, however after much back and forth, CSLEA was informed shortly after that meeting that DMV had decided to suspend drive tests for at least two weeks effective December 14th. This was conveyed to DMV staff via a December 10th Memorandum. This timeframe coincides with the current state office closure.
“We will continue to fight for the safety of our examiners. Not only in times of COVID-19, but any time that, as a union, we feel a threat to our members ‘well-being,” said Enrique Razo, president of the California Organization of Licensing Registration Examiners (COLRE). “When you join a union, you work together to live better.”
CSLEA is pleased that DMV finally arrived at this decision and will be continuing to monitor DMV operations and the stay at home order in the weeks ahead. “Thank you to all those LREs who contacted CSLEA. We appreciate your patience as we worked diligently with the Department to make this decision,” said CSLEA Senior Counsel Ryan Navarre. “Thank you for all your hard work and dedication, especially during this pandemic. We will continue to fight for you and ensure that the dangers and risks associated with your job are not overlooked or taken for granted.”