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'Unconscionable': Pima County's 'Employee Health & Wellness' CV-19 group excludes labor reps

A committee set up to "ensure employees are safe and healthy as they return to the workplace" as COVID-19 restrictions are eased includes 32 employer representatives, but is being blasted for not having a single workers group included.

After the issue was raised by TucsonSentinel.com, county officials said that labor representation would be "immediately" added to the group.

The "Business & Employee Health & Wellness" group was convened by Pima County as one of four subcommittees in the "Back to Business" effort.

Tasked with determining "how employers can ensure that employees are safe and healthy as they return to the workplace," the task force of 34 local business group leaders and government officials held its first meeting this week. The subcommittee's makeup has been criticized by local labor representatives.

"Before we talk about re-opening businesses in Pima County, we must first recognize that it will be the hard-working people of our community which will be doing these jobs, and it will be the hard-working people of our community who will be risking their health," Trish Muir, chair of the Pima Area Labor Federation, told TucsonSentinel.com.

"A safe work place is a right, not a privilege," said Muir, head of the Tucson area's AFL-CIO union umbrella group. "We feel that workers, and the unions they have chosen to represent them, must have a say in the decisions being made by the Business & Employee Health & Wellness task force."

The task force is headed by Amber Smith, president of the Tucson Metro Chamber.

"The county identified the broad range of partners," Smith said. "I do not know how the list was developed but I can say that the group appears to be very diverse and broad by industry, organization, size of organization and jurisdiction."

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Back in April, PALF "requested that representatives on behalf of our affiliates and worker advocates be included in this process," Muir said. "Unfortunately, our request was ignored. We find it unconscionable that the voice of the people this task force claims to protect was not deemed valuable enough to be heard."

After TucsonSentinel.com raised questions about the subcommittee's membership on Thursday, Jan Lesher, chief deputy county administrator, said "We are aware of the concern and are adjusting immediately to ensure representation."

Muir was offered a seat on the main county Back to Business committee on Friday. She did not respond when TucsonSentinel.com asked if she was accepting the spot.

Business & Employee Health & Wellness

The committee's membership, as announced:

  • Chair: Amber Smith, Tucson Metro Chamber
  • Vice Chair: Farhad Moghimi, Pima Association of Governments
  • Brad Anderson, Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Mark Clark, Pima Council on Aging
  • Gabrielle David, Small Business Commission District 3
  • Kurtis Dawson, YMCA of Southern Arizona
  • Kathleen Eriksen, Downtown Tucson Partnership
  • Carlos Estrada, Circle K Retail Operations
  • Ann Fraley, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Guillermo Gallegos, Small Business Commission District 2
  • Isabel Georgelos, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • David Godlewski, Southern Arizona Home Builders Association
  • Randy Graf, Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce
  • David Hutchens, UNS Energy
  • John Jackson Moyer, Tucson GLBT Chamber
  • Bo Johnson, Ajo Chamber of Commerce
  • Lee Lambert, Pima Community College
  • Troy Little, Quik Mart Stores Inc.
  • Clint Mabie, Community Foundation of Southern Arizona
  • Fletcher McCusker, Rio Nuevo
  • Mark Miller, Small Business Commission District 1
  • Tony Penn, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
  • Dave Perry, Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Steve Ponzo, Washington Federal Bank
  • Robert Robbins, University of Arizona
  • Fred Ronstadt, Fourth Avenue Merchants Association
  • Matt Siegel, CBRE
  • Elizabeth Slater, Youth on Their Own
  • Cristie Street, Nextrio
  • Bernie Trejo, Buena Vista Eye Care
  • Dustin Williams, Pima County Superintendent of Schools
  • Audra Winters, Marana Chamber of Commerce
  • Staff: John Moffatt and Patrick Cavanaugh, Pima County Economic Development

The county also set up a main "Back to Business Steering Committee", chaired by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and University of Arizona President Robert Robbins, that includes 33 area mayors, business association heads, and major employers.

"The purpose of the steering committee will be to establish a framework of hygiene and physical distancing standards that need to be developed to begin to reopen, in a limited, phased manner, the commercial and business activities that may have been suspended or substantially interrupted during this time," the county said.

Back to Business Steering Committee

  • Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County Administrator Co-Chair
  • Dr. Robert Robbins, President, University of Arizona, Co-Chair
  • Raul Aguirre, Small Business Commission
  • Kent Blumenthal, Small Business Commission
  • Terry Cullen, Pima County Health Department
  • Gabrielle David, Small Business Commission
  • Kurtis Dawson, YMCA of Southern Arizona
  • Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson
  • Kathleen Ericksen, Downtown Tucson Partnership
  • Guillermo Gallegos, Small Business Commission
  • David Godlewski, Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association
  • Ed Honea, Mayor, Town of Marana
  • David Hutchens, UNS Energy
  • Nancy Johnson, El Rio
  • Lee Lambert, Pima Community College
  • Clint Mabie, Community Foundation of Southern Arizona
  • Fletcher McCusker, Rio Nuevo
  • Mark Miller, Small Business Commission
  • Farhad Moghimi, Pima Association of Governments
  • Tom Murphy, Mayor Town of Sahuararita
  • Ned Norris, Tohono O’odham Nation
  • Tony Penn, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
  • Judy Rich, TMC
  • Regina Romero, Mayor, City of Tucson
  • Laura Shaw, Sun Corridor
  • Amber Smith, Tucson Metro Chamber
  • Joe Snell, Sun Corridor
  • Bob Teso, Mayor. City of South Tucson
  • Ramon Valadez, Chairman, Pima County Board of Supervisors
  • Robert Valencia, Pascua Yaqui Tribe
  • Chad Whelan, Banner Health Care
  • Dustin Williams, Pima County Superintendent of Schools
  • Joe Winfield, Mayor Town of Oro Valley
  • Staff: Jan Lesher, Chief Deputy County Administrator, and Monica Perez, County Administrator Chief Administrative Assistant

The "Road to Recovery" subcommittee includes the county's top Health Department experts and representatives of most area healthcare providers, with the exception of the VA, which isn't subject to regulation by the county.

"This subcommittee will review the nine criteria that must be met for Phase 1 reopening to occur and report on the status of each element, including progress toward reopening. The subcommittee will also make recommendations on the establishment of subsequent phases toward complete reopening," the county said.

Road to Recovery

  • Chair: Terry Cullen, MD, MS, Pima County Health Department
  • Vice Chair: Nancy Johnson, RN, PhD, El Rio Health Center
  • Michael Abecassis, MD, MBA, UA College of Medicine
  • Iman Hakim, MBBCh, PhD, MPH, MEZCOPH
  • Lynette Jaramillo, Casa de la Luz Hospice
  • Clinton Kuntz, DBH, MHC Healthcare
  • Jonathan Leonard, Desert Senita Community Health Center
  • Rose Lopez, MBA, Intermountain Centers
  • Judy Rich, Tucson Medical Center
  • James Stover, MA, AZ Medicaid President for Centene Corp.
  • Chad Whelan, MD, MHSA, Banner Health
  • Staff:
  • Francisco Garcia, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer
  • Bob England, MD, MPH, interim Health Department Director
  • Terry Cullen, MD, MS, incoming Health Department Director

An "Expediting Government Regulation" subcommittee, chaired by Brent DeRaad of Visit Tucson with Kathleen Erickson of the Downtown Tucson Partnership as vice chair, includes three task forces, focused on bars and restaurants; resorts, pools and spas; and attractions. The subcomittee is tasked with reviewing "how pools, bars, restaurants, and other public facilities can safely reopen and how various regulatory entities such as the Pima County Health Department's Community Health and Food Safety team can expedite necessary training and permitting."

Bars and Restaurants Task Force

The mission: "They will look at how bars and restaurants can safely reopen and how various regulatory entities such as the Pima County Health Department's Community Health and Food Safety team can expedite necessary training and permitting."

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  • Dan Bogert, Arizona Restaurant Association
  • Guillermo Gallegos, American Eat Company
  • Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson
  • Rocco DiGrazia, Rocco's Little Chicago
  • Ray Flores, El Charro
  • Sean Humphrey, John Henry's Bar & Freight Train Coffee Company
  • Terry Kyte, Bisbee Breakfast Club
  • Janos Wilder, Downtown Tucson Kitchen
  • Staff:
  • Dr. Francisco Garcia
  • Loni Anderson
  • Gary Frucci
  • Diane Frisch
  • Catherine Strickland

Resorts, Pools & Spas Task Force

The mission: "They will look at how resorts, pools and spas can safely reopen and how various regulatory entities such as the Pima County Health Department's Community Health and Food Safety team can expedite necessary training and permitting."

  • Kent Blumenthal, Chair, Small Business Commission
  • Russ Bond, JW Marriott Starr Pass
  • Nicole Dahl, Hotel McCoy
  • Kurtis Dawson, YMCA
  • Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson
  • Grant Dipman, Canyon Ranch
  • Dale McDaniel, Lowes Ventana Canyon
  • Theresa Mudd, Achieve Strength & Fitness
  • Richard Oseran, Hotel Congress
  • Andrew Stegen, Westward Look
  • Laura True, White Stallion Ranch
  • Mark Van Buren, Tucson Marriott University
  • Staff:
  • Dr. Francisco Garcia
  • Loni Anderson
  • Gary Frucci
  • Diane Frisch
  • Catherine Strickland
  • Joe Barr

Attractions Task Force

The mission: "They will look at how local attractions and tourism destinations can safely reopen and how various regulatory entities such as the Pima County Health Department's Community Health and Food Safety team can expedite necessary training and permitting."

  • Danette Bewley, Tucson International Airport
  • Kate Calhoun, Tucson Convention Center
  • Peter Catalanotte, Film Tucson
  • Michelle Conklin, Tucson Botanical Gardens
  • Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson
  • Adriana Gallego, Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona
  • Michele Hatch, Casino del Sol
  • Chad Herzog, UA Presents
  • Bob Hoffman, Tucson Roadrunners
  • Craig Ivanyi, Desert Museum
  • Peggy Johnson, The Loft
  • Nancy Kluge, Reid Park Zoo
  • Scott Marchard, Pima Air & Space Museum
  • Curtis McCrary, Rialto Theatre
  • Tom Morgan, Gray Line Tours
  • Trenna Parvello, Desert Diamond Casino
  • Amanda Powers, FC Tucson
  • Bonnie Schock, Fox Theatre
  • Priscilla Storm, Old Tucson
  • Hilary Van Alsburg, Tucson Children's Museum
  • Geri Right, Arizona Theatre Company
  • Staff:
  • Diane Frisch
  • Joe Barr
  • Reenie Ochoa

Community Updates

The county also set up a subcomittee that includes representatives of Pima County Communications Department, the Arizona Daily Star, Arizona Public Media, KVOA and other major outlets for marketing. Ironically, its mission, as laid out on the county website, is almost a comprehensible English sentence: "Develop and disseminate messaging to the public about the response to COVID-19 to ensure the recovery and reopening activities must occur in many mediums and multiple languages."

  • Chair: Laura Shaw, Sun Corridor
  • Vice Chair: Raul Aguirre, Small Business Commission District 5
  • Ericka Aguilar, Marketing Lotus
  • Raul Aguirre, Small Business Commission District 5
  • Darrell Durham, Arizona Daily Star,
  • Steven Eddy, TEP
  • Efraim Morales, Azteca
  • Jack Gibson, Arizona Public Media
  • Dan Gibson, Visit Tucson
  • Stephanie Healy, Cox
  • John Hudak, Tucson Lifestyle
  • Julie Katsel, University of Arizona
  • Steve Rosenberg, BizTucson
  • Mary Rowley, NuPOINT Marketing
  • Sonia Ruiz, Clear Channel
  • Bill Shaw, KVOA
  • Lane Mandle, City of Tucson
  • Misti Nowak, Town of Oro Valley
  • Tucson Airport Authority
  • Staff:
  • Mark B. Evans
  • Teresa Bravo
  • Kate Harrison
  • Marcia Zamorano
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