Baltimore Businesses – Immediate Steps for Civil Unrest Response
A Firestorm Alert Bulletin
If you have business, retail locations and/or business operations in or near the affected unrest areas of Baltimore, MD, below is a letter from the Deputy Mayor, followed by practical business tips for continuity of operations during a Civil Unrest situation.
As of Monday night, 15 officers were injured. There were 144 reported vehicle fires and 15 structure fires overnight.
If you have any specific questions or need help and information, please contact Firestorm Maryland, Ryan Mercer | 443-583-3359 | [email protected].
We can and will help 24/7 to:
- · Identify and access workplace recovery space
- · Address security or planning concerns
- · Prepare Home Bases and Message Maps
- · Draft communications
- · Provide critical decision support
- · Develop interim response, security, or recovery plans
Letter from Deputy Mayor:
Dear Business Leader,
Yesterday, Baltimore City experienced unacceptable acts of violence. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake took immediate steps to regain control of the city and ensure that order is maintained in the coming days.
Among actions taken yesterday:
The Mayor requested additional support from the National Guard. Members of the Guard will be present in Baltimore City in the coming hours and will support Baltimore City Police, many of whom have been working nearly around the clock for the past several days managing protests.
The Mayor continued to recruit additional police support from surrounding jurisdictions and was in contact with President Obama, Governor Hogan and various other officials from around the region discussing response efforts to stop the violence.
The Mayor instituted a city-wide curfew in effect each night from 10pm to 5am. This curfew will remain in effect for the next 7-days at which point the Mayor will determine if additional days are needed.
The Mayor activated a 24 hour emergency operation center to coordinate an Administration wide response to the violence in city streets.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake spoke out forcefully and condemned the actions of a small group of agitators who went against the wishes of Freddie Gray’s family.
Today the Mayor will be focused on surveying the damage inflicted by these shameful actions, and ensuring that overall government operations continue as normal.
At this time,
· City Hall will be open
· MTA will be operating on regular schedule
· Major roadways will be clear
· Amtrak is unaffected
· Trash collection and street sweeping will continue
· City agencies will support impacted businesses with clean- up efforts
· Baltimore City Schools will be closed
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake remains committed to a thorough and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding the death of Freddie Gray. The Baltimore City Police Department remains on schedule to deliver the results of their internal investigation to date to the Office of the States’ Attorney on Friday, May 1st. The States Attorney Office is conducting its own investigation and will determine what charges should be brought. Additionally, the Department of Justice is conducting its own independent investigation.
We will continue to work around the clock to ensure the unrest is settled, the perpetrators of that unrest are apprehended, and that justice is brought to the family of Freddie Gray. As a City, we will clean, we will rebuild, and we will heal.
Mayor’s Office of Economic & Neighborhood Development
About Civil Unrest
Civil unrest occurs when anger, frustration, or fear turn disruptive on a large scale. People who are bound together in a sense of community and solidarity over an unpopular policy, war, economic downturn, lack of opportunity, panic over a pandemic, a food shortage, a bank-run—could possibly result in civil unrest.
Definitions of the levels of civil unrest and the affect they may have on individuals and communities, as well as, considerations for preparedness:
Level One: The lowest level of civil unrest is when people turn on their own neighborhoods—as happened during the race riots of the 1960s and the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Level One civil unrest can be deadly and destructive, but primarily to people who live, work, or must travel in the immediate area. Level One unrest is spontaneous. Dionysian, is confined to a narrow geographical zone where the protestors live. Law enforcement response is generally localized. Unless you’re in the middle of it, you’re not likely to be affected.
Level Two: Level Two civil unrest may also be focused on a single area; but in this case, rioters or protesters have deliberately targeted a business district, a facility, a transportation system, or an organization to impose maximum disruption. One example: the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999; young people with violence in mind and rage in their hearts attacked an entire downtown, affecting hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of workers who hardly knew what hit them. Level Two unrest usually reflects a degree of planning and organization. The target is chosen deliberately. Although still focused in one area, Level Two can disrupt the normalcy of daily life and business throughout a large geographic region, or possibly the country.
Level Three: Level Three comes when mass civil unrest or authoritarian crackdown causes disruption at a regional or state level. Then, no matter what the original cause or location of the trouble, everyone in the region is affected. Effects might include travel restrictions, random ID checks, mass arrests, food and fuel rationing, controls on money and banking, roadblocks, and other “emergency” restrictions.
Level Four: Level Four is similar to Level Three—but on a national or even international scale. It’s martial law.
Prior to Civil Unrest Occurring
Avoid disaster denial and don’t become complacent. All too often people tend to have an “it can’t happen here” attitude towards disaster planning. When civil unrest disrupts the supply chain everyone is potentially affected regardless of location or socioeconomic status.
Keep standard emergency preparations up to date. The first thing to do is make sure all our typical preparedness supplies and plans are current. Non-perishable and back-up food, water, and other supplies are the mainstay for everything from bad storms, to power outages and social breakdowns. During civil unrest, especially at Level Three or Four, we might not be able to purchase the things needed. Commonly these would be food, water, shelter, light and medications.
· Be conscious of employee concerns for their safety and the safety of their families. Family trumps work every time.
· Encourage employees to be vigilant and watch for signs of trouble when in an unfamiliar area. Persons may find themselves in the middle of a civil unrest protest with little or no warning. When walking, driving, biking, or otherwise traveling in unfamiliar places, stay alert! Never simply meander along oblivious to what is going on in the area.
· If trouble develops, turn and avoid it if at all possible. If you find yourself unwittingly in the area of a riot, or mass protest that suddenly engulfs the immediate location, and street-level chaos surrounds you, do your best to keep a cool head, move away from the worst of it if you get the chance, and get inside a safe location, if possible.
· About 1000 people have volunteered to participate in clean-up in the community follow last night’s unrest. Businesses may wish to give time-off consideration to those employees who wish to participate in the effort.
· Parents with school-age children may be unable to work due to school closure, coupled with the unavailability of immediate child care and concern for their children’s safety. Businesses may wish to give time-off consideration to those employees affected in this manner.
Where to start?
Attendance / Absenteeism
Attendance related policies are traditionally designed to penalize employees who are late or absent from work. However, if there is civil unrest and a concurrent transportation outage with accompanying road closures and possible traffic gridlock, employees who rely on public transportation may either be unable to arrive at work in a timely manner or at all. Attendance policies for an unexpected event of this nature must be examined and revised.
Questions to ask:
• If emergency preparedness plans are activated and a designated employee is sent to an alternative worksite, may a designated employee refuse to go?
• How will attendance policies be enforced?
• May an employee work a flexible work schedule in the event of a transportation crisis?
• Can management mandate an alternative work schedule?
Vacation/ Paid Time Off
Most existing Human Resource policies are designed to discourage sick leave. Employers must now consider either modifying their existing policies or extending time lines to address longer absences. In the wake of a civil unrest situation, will an employee be allowed to use sick leave?
The policies of many companies plan for fixed periods of planned leave (e.g., vacation, personal days), time off for illness, and unexpected time off for special circumstances (family medical leave, bereavement leave). An extended civil unrest situation, much like a pandemic, may have the potential to test the limits of each.
Questions for Consideration:
• What are an employee’s transportation options?
• If employees find alternate forms of transportation that add extensive travel time to their day, will they be compensated? Will they be penalized if they are still late due to additional traffic issues and tie-ups?
• Will employees be allowed to leave early to meet family obligations due to travel delays anticipated?
• Is it possible to provide safe and secure company sponsored transportation?
Telecommuting can also help employers retain functionality as infrastructure issues and other challenges make the main worksite difficult to access. The key to successful use of telecommuting in the event of a civil unrest situation is an effective routine telework program. As many employees as possible should have remote work capability (i.e. current telecommuting arrangements, connectivity, and equipment commensurate with their work needs and frequent enough opportunities to telework to ensure all systems have been tested and are known to be functional). This may entail creative thinking beyond current implementation of telecommuting, drawing in employees who otherwise might not engage in remote access and ensuring their effectiveness as a distributed workforce.
Successful Telecommuting programs include the development and enforcement of: Equipment Policies, Telecommuting Policies and a Telecommuting Agreement.
Employers need not implement a telecommuting arrangement when the employee’s presence in the workplace is an essential function of the job. The law does not require employers to ignore or jettison essential functions when considering accommodation requests.
Questions for Consideration:
• How does an employee request a telecommuting arrangement?
• Can the employer mandate telecommuting?
• Can management prevent employees from telecommuting? Must an employer grant a request to telecommute?
• Can employees recover additional costs incurred as a result of telework (DSL line, additional phone line, increased use of electricity, etc.)?
• If an employee is not able to report to the official worksite and must telecommute from home due to a transportation crisis, will pay be affected?
• What are the rules about the number of overtime hours a supervisor may require employees to work?
• If an employee is working from home because of a transportation crisis, and chooses to work 4 hours in addition to their regular 8-hours-per-day work schedule, will they receive overtime pay for the additional 4 hours worked?
Unionized workplaces may already have policies, such as short-term absenteeism provisions, that will address civil unrest situation concerns in some fashion under their collective-bargaining agreements. Bargaining rights may be triggered if employers with unionized work forces attempt to modify those policies.
Employers with a unionized work force may have a duty to bargain with the appropriate labor organizations regarding any changes to the terms and conditions of employment resulting from a civil unrest situation. Employers should also review existing terms and conditions to ensure that there is a disaster management provision (e.g., the ability to retain alternative or temporary labor due to high employee absenteeism).
An employer with a Force majeure in its union contract may have the right to deviate from the contract or to make unilateral changes in the terms and conditions of employment. This clause may relieve parties from the requirements of the contract in the event of an uncontrollable outside cause. The rights of the parties vary with each situation, but the bottom line is that responsible employers will review all documents to see whether such a clause should be included, deleted or revised.
• Food: There are a lot of options available, ranging from freeze dried meals in individual packets to MREs or even long term storage foods in #10 cans. These can be bought by single ingredient or single meals as well as by assortments that cost thousands of dollars at once, with a wide range of assortments between the single meals and the largest assortments. Choose what you like and can afford. Add supermarket foods to round it out, such as vegetable oil, sugar, salt, flour, beans, rice, etc. Remember, supermarket canned goods only have a 12 month shelf life. The shelf life for oils is usually about six to nine months. Sugar and salt last nearly indefinitely, as long as they are kept dry.
• Water: Having water containers on hand to fill are fine, but what if there is an unexpected cessation of that faucet working? Keep some drinking water on hand in containers at all times, at least one gallon per person per day for a 7 day period. Having water filtration devices or water purification tablets on hand is also a good idea.
• Shelter: Staying at home is usually advisable, but for some people, having the option of leaving is a good one as well. Choose a tent of appropriate size in natural colors such as browns and greens, avoiding neon colored tents. Having a tent that is portable enough to be carried strapped to your backpack or in your backpack is a good idea. Including an “emergency tent” in your emergency pack is also a good idea for anything unexpected. Even tarps make excellent shelters, shades, rain protection, or windbreaks to increase your comfort. Make sure you have sleeping gear, and if you are intending to use a hammock as your sleep system, make sure to have an insulating pad to use to protect your bottom side in the hammock from cold air in winter. Have a sleeping bag appropriate to your region’s climate as well. If it’s too warm, it’s a lot easier to unzip than to stay warm in a bag not rated for the temperatures you are confronting.
• Light and Heat: While everyone should carry a flashlight, another obvious answer is fire. Make sure you have the makings of a fire for heat, light, and cooking needs. Know how to use that flint & steel, as well as carrying matches and a good lighter. Using a propane camping light and a propane camping stove may be a consideration for lighting and cooking respectively, but be certain to use as prescribed by the manufacturer. Using the propane equipment improperly could result in injury or death.
• Medications: Having a bit more available in your medical kit than a couple of aspirins is a great idea. Even more important is to have a month’s supply of your regular medications on hand at all times. This preparation will provide you with a cushion should civil unrest disturb shipping and shopping, as well as allow you a cushion in the event of travel. Add in any regular over-the-counter medications used.
Follow the Baltimore PD at https://twitter.com/BaltimorePolice
Follow the Mayor’s Office Twitter account at https://twitter.com/MayorSRB
Firestorm may be retained to:
· Identify and access workplace recovery space
· Address security or planning concerns
· Prepare Home Bases and Message Maps
· Draft communications
· Provide critical decision support
· Develop interim response, security, or recovery plans
We can and will help 24/7.
If you have any specific questions or need help and information, please contact Firestorm Maryland, Ryan Mercer | 443-583-3359 | [email protected]