Debate over Rath Building safety has turned into feud over masks

Erie County

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB)–Today marks the third day since hundreds of County workers returned to the Rath Building for the first time in months.

The debate about its safety has turned into a high profile feud over masks. 

“I’m getting a lot of feedback from union employees that are not happy. They don’t feel safe.”

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw continues to question the County Executive’s decision to bring hundreds of employees who had been working from home back into the Rath Building.

“No one is checking temperatures when you enter the Rath Building and self-check is a joke. How do we trust people that they’re feeling fine unless you actually check their temperatures,” Mychajliw said.

We spoke with some Rath Building employees off camera. Some had already been working here throughout, but say since Tuesday, it’s a challenge to abide by the rule of no more than four people in one elevator.

Mychajliw added, “It is physically impossible for four people to socially distance in an elevator, yet they want four people in an elevator at one time.”

But County Executive Mark Poloncarz questions why Mychajliw didn’t even have a mask on last Friday. Poloncarz displayed the surveillance video of Mychajliw stepping into a Rath Building elevator with Poloncarz who warned him to wear one before entering the Rath Building next time.

Mychajliw countered that by sharing a recent photo of Poloncarz not wearing a mask outdoors as he endorsed a candidate standing nearby.

“It’s disappointing for what he’s saying because we’ve taken so many precautions and measures including going to the point if buying special sprayers to spray every doorknob in this building every night,” Poloncarz said.

“We have officers in the building that will address any issue that an employee has. They’re also welcome to send an email to our office if they have any issues and we will deal with them. But, to the best of my knowledge, everything is going okay,” President of CSEA Local 815 Denise Szymura said.

Watch the full surveillance video below:

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