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Big Texas companies demand storm survivors go without pay

The Washington Post / Mark Felix / GettyDALLAS – They first faced the nightmare of a winter storm, a historic assault that wiped out their electricity, heat, water, or all three at the same time. Company internal emails and texts obtained by The Daily Beast indicate that dozens of employers in Texas, many in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, have told people who cannot go to work or work remotely due to loss of electricity. in last week’s destructive winter storm, they have to treat the days lost as vacation, if not go without pay. They are not small businesses either. Several large companies are part of it, such as Bell Textron Inc. – formerly known as Bell Helicopter – United Ag & Turf, BAE Systems and the city of Dallas itself. And the workers are in turmoil. Slamming Texans “We are forced to take vacations on stormy days when I had no heat or WiFi, or I can lose the money and not get paid,” said a Bell Helicopter employee, who as d Other workers cited in this report on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, told The Daily Beast. “I’m disappointed and nervous for next year,” the worker said, adding, “Even though I’m a salaried employee I’m just starting out, and hitting anything on my income will put me on the streets – and that’s terrifying.” Bell representatives did not return a call or email requesting comment, but emails sent by management and reviewed by The Daily Beast clarified the policy. “Employees who cannot fully devote their time and attention to company affairs due to the conditions must use the available PTO, vacation or flexible vacation time if they wish to be paid today. Otherwise, employees who have no more working hours PTO, vacation or flexible time off or who do not wish to use their PTO, vacations or holidays not in use will not be paid for today, ”reads an email sent last week by Bell management The worker told the Daily Beast that Bell’s facilities have been shut down all week, but at one point were unable to access the VPN – a “virtual private network” that allows them to access corporate systems – meaning that many Bell employees couldn’t ‘work from home even when they had electricity. Executives at United Ag & Turf – a dealer of John Deere equipment – and managers at BAE Systems – a British multinational arms, security and aerospace company – sent similar messages. But they also enabled employees to effectively borrow paid time off, which would come from their future allowances or wages, according to emails reviewed by The Daily Beast. Some employees did not appreciate the offer.[I] just feel like people should know. This is not correct, ”a BAE Systems employee told The Daily Beast. A spokesperson for BAE Systems told the Daily Beast: “As a government contractor, there are regulations we must follow for labor billed by our employees. The events of the past week are unusual and we are working with employees on how to properly manage whenever they are unable to work. Additionally, we have activated our Immediate Response Program to support our colleagues and provide financial assistance to affected employees and their families. United Ag & Turf employees, meanwhile, have even been told they need to take responsibility for maintaining a balance of time off in case such events occur in the future. This despite the devastating storm and associated electrical crisis being “the largest insurance claim event in Texas history”. “To be prepared for such circumstances in the future, every employee should manage their PTO and be encouraged to always keep a balance for unexpected situations like health issues and inclement weather. This type of assistance will no longer be offered in the future, ”read an email from United Ag & Turf senior management. United Ag & Turf did not respond to a request for comment. “I’m angry. They could have said nothing and be fine. They could have paid people for the canceled days and looked like heroes. They instead chose to add insult to injury,” one said. worker at United Ag & Turf. For-profit employers weren’t the only ones telling their employees they had to use their vacation days. Even some government employees were affected: an email sent to the the Dallas City Library told employees to use personal time off for lost work. The veracity of the email was confirmed by Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua, as well as a representative city ​​communications, Catherine Cuellar. You just have to decide whether people are paid or not, “said a city employee.” It’s a crazy nightmare “: mom recounts the last moments with her 3 dead children in Texas. Power outage out, they can either “rat trapping their delay in the pay period ”or requesting paid emergency administrative leave, which would then have to be approved by FEMA. “No one can ‘decide’ about anything; We have processes and levels of accountability for taxpayer dollars, “she said.” So it becomes a question at the federal level as to whether the emergency administrative payroll for this worker was a necessary expense during the weather event, ”added Cuellar. has been the city’s weather emergency pay policy for a decade, ”she said. When asked if the policy could be changed to cover all employees, Cuellar said things would be handled on a case-by-case basis. Austin Kaplan, an Austin-based employment lawyer, described these situations as a consequence of a lack of adequate labor protections in a state with notoriously weak guarantees for workers. “There is no requirement in Texas that people pay vacations. There’s just no safety net, or anything like that, ”Kaplan told The Daily Beast. This means that it was entirely up to employers to decide how to manage the fallout. Some, like Cisco, have not only paid their employees for the days lost, but have also offered office space as a refuge and sent resources for mental health support, but it seems they are in the minority. And without any clear sign of government action – Gov. Greg Abbott hinted at relief for workers facing sky-high electricity bills, but nothing else – they seem to be alone. “In my opinion, the state that turned off the power grid should be the one paying,” Kaplan said. For more, check out The Daily Beast. Do you have any advice? Send it to The Daily Beast here Get our best stories delivered to your inbox every day. Register now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside digs deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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