LARGO, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - The union representing employees at a Prince George’s County Motor Vehicle Administration branch say no one from management told them that one of their workers died of COVID-19 over the weekend. Instead, they say they found out about his death from social media.
The union, known as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, claims that management at the MDOT MVA and Governor Larry Hogan's administration did not tell workers about the five positive cases at the branch and failed to protect them.
MDOT MVA says that the agency was notified of the first case on October 5. Officials were also told about the most recent case of an employee testing positive on Oct. 10 who last worked at the MVA on Oct. 3.
The union says the employee who died –– whose sister identified him as 59-year-old Jyri Erik Kork, of Greenbelt, Md. –– reportedly passed away last Friday after being off work for two weeks following a COVID-19 diagnosis, but they say they didn’t even know that he had tested positive — and that they had to find out via social media instead.
The union also says that "closed" ventilation in workplaces like the Largo MVA is "dangerous" and needs to be improved.
"We don’t want to know who it is, we just want you to give us some type of assurance that you are aware of what’s going on and that you are going to clean the facility out to make it safe for us to come to work and be able to go home to our families and our loved ones," said Wynton Johnson, the AFSCME Council 3 president.
Plus, the union tells FOX 5 they want the state to release an agency-by-agency count of infection and death rates and how they are keeping track of it all.
FOX 5's Ayesha Khan reports she asked the governor’s office about this, but they have not responded as of yet.
A spokesperson with the MVA tells FOX 5 that contact tracing is underway and employees who had interactions with the infected co-workers are now in quarantine. In addition, they have done a deep cleaning since the first case was reported on Oct. 5, and then again on Monday.
FOX 5's Ayesha Khan spoke with Kork's sister on Wednesday. She says her brother was a very private person and she hates that the MVA is coming under fire because of the union’s claims. She went on to say Kork described to her on numerous occasions that he felt protected at the branch.