The Savannah River Site reported the first employee testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. Over the next few days, activities at the Savannah River Site will transition to only those “necessary to ensure the safety of the public, our workers, the environment, and critical national security missions,” a SRS spokesperson explained.
WJBF was contacted by craft and trade contract workers who are concerned they will be left in an unpaid status if they are sent home in a workforce rollback in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak.
There is some good news for Savannah River Remediation contract workers.
After several inquires from the News Channel 6 newsroom, SRR has withdrawn a letter addressed to the Augusta Building and Construction Trades Labor Unions circulating among contract employees.
The letter states non-essential contract workers could be sent home with no pay in the event of a workforce reduction due to COVID-19 protocol.
SRR spokesperson Dean Campbell tells News Channel 6, SRR has now authorized paid leave to ensure workforce continuity, and the building trades have been notified the circulated letter has been withdrawn.
Also, there is language in the current proposed federal stimulus package that would make federal contract workers eligible for unemployment benefits if needed, that they were previously not eligible for.
News Channel 6 will continue to update this story as it develops.
Below is the official response from SRR to our inquiries:
Savannah River Remediation issued a letter to the leadership of the Augusta Building Trades to provide information about potential workforce impacts if employees were sent home as part of the response to COVID-19. The letter was sent prematurely; no decisions on staffing had been made at this time, and this letter reflected only one potential planning scenario. Since then, SRR has been authorized paid leave to ensure workforce continuity.
The Building Trades have been notified that this letter has been withdrawn.