UPDATE: We are working for all members on Covid-19

Published by ufcw one on

Your local union has been working to
help protect you from Covid-19,
and working on new benefits to assist you and your family

Every morning a video conference call is held with Frank DeRiso, President of Local One and the entire staff of Union Representatives.  The Union Representatives report on what is happening at your worksites, and when problems are brought up, solutions are discussed.  There is a lot going on, as you know, and this is a situation that changes hourly.  We are on top of many of the issues you brought to us and we will try to address each one.

On our Telephone Town Hall thousands of members listened in, and many questions were answered.  Members that did not have their question taken live on the air, and left a message for us, those messages were returned.  Hopefully we addressed many of your concerns.  If you did not get a call back, and you left us a message last night (over 100 members left messages) it is because you did not leave us your name or telephone number.  If you have a question that you need answered or you would like a copy of the recording of the telephone town hall meeting, email greg@ufcwone.org.

Many issues pertaining to the virus are moving fast.

Childcare and the Stimulus Package

Congress and the White House have agreed to the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Phase 3.  One specific portion of this bill will affect all UFCW members.  Since Food Supply Workers are considered essential and critical infrastructure workers to the response of COVID-19, we have secured CHILD CARE BENEFITS for you, similar to those afforded to first responders both in the states and at the federal level.

A $3.5 billion Child Care Block Grant for first responders and essential workers, regardless of income level is in this Phase 3 Bill.  This means that all our members in the Food Supply Chain will have access to low cost/free childcare nationwide.  While the process for obtaining this benefit will vary state-to-state, we will continue to work with you to get you the information that you need in order to access this benefit immediately.  Stay tuned because this was worth the holdout for members with childrenPlease note that designated first responder health care members will also be eligible for childcare benefits.

What’s Happening Around Our Jurisdiction?

Let’s start with our bus drivers and monitors.  We are working with state elected officials and we are trying to get Governor Cuomo’s office to sign an Executive Order that would mandate School Districts to pay their school bus contracts so that bus drivers can be paid their regular wages.  The School Districts were paid and reimbursed by the State for their transportation needs; there is no reason why they should withhold payments to our bus companies.  We will keep you informed of our progress.

In our health care facilities we are continuously working behind the scenes pushing our facilities to do the right thing for working men and women.  We have requested enhance leave of absence policies, increased sick pay, protection for our front-line workers with protective equipment, extra hazard pay and less strict access to extended sick leave banks.

Eastern NY:

For MVHS/SEMC we have been working hand and hand with our brothers and sisters at CWA over at Faxton St Lukes since the beginning the COVID-19. We teamed up on an online petition and presented it to MVHS (SEMC had great participation).  Here it is:

Protect Healthcare Workers During COVID-19

We are demanding that MVHS, management of Faxton/St. Luke’s and Saint Elizabeth’s (SEMC), do everything possible to protect us as healthcare workers. We demand a plan of action for immunosuppressed employees, adequate protective wear such as face shields/N95 masks/gloves/suits, training on how to properly remove protective wear, a clear policy on how we will be paid if we are quarantined or if we must stay home due to loss in childcare, appropriate standards in place to care for patients who exhibit symptoms, daily updates to the FSL and SEMC websites as well as employee emails regarding the most up-to-date protocols, and a comprehensive surge plan. We are the frontline workers and we should be protected at all costs so that we can continue to care for our patients. We must immediately halt elective procedures and conserve our PPE.

We have achieved an enhanced leave of absence policy for most facilities that have more access to extended sick leave bank.  The facilities are providing clear PPE use instructions. The facilities are providing UFCW and our members with daily updates. At some facilities, hotlines were set up to disseminate information faster.  Time and attendance systems have been relaxed providing more flexibility to our members. We are making sure our facilities are providing hand sanitizers and personal protective equipment to those in need. 

Our UFCW representatives have made themselves readily available seven days a week to answer COVID-19 questions as well as general contractual questions and enforcement.

Western NY:

Catholic Health will create a COVID team, those team members will  receive $10 per hour Hazard Pay for all hours worked, plus any applicable OT       

Extra shifts – receive $10 per hour for any extra shifts or hours picked up above budgeted FTE,

Working same FTE but at a different facility – regular rate of pay plus any travel pay above and beyond normal commute. We are in negotiations to have members receive $10 per hour for any extra shifts or hours picked up, plus any applicable OT.

Mandating  – regular rate up to the applicable contractual OT limit. Any hours beyond that will be paid at time and one half.

Assistance with Child Care (see last page for more information)

Attendance policies in all healthcare and Nursing facilities have been relaxed to accommodate our members needs

Like our health care members, our grocery store members are on another frontline, the constant exposure to the general public at large.  One of Local One’s main goals during this crisis is making sure that these members are also protected from Covid-19.

Keeping You Safe is Our Number Goal

We are working on getting letters or documents that will show you are considered an “Essential Worker” for members to keep with them when they are traveling to and from work.  Gloves will be provided and available for pharmacy techs and customer service area members.  Protective Plexiglas is being installed at the Pharmacy Area and at Cash Registers that are longer than 4 feet to protect clerks from customers.  There are approximately 40 stores (store list is coming) that cannot have Plexiglas installed because the belt at the registers are only 4 feet long, and the protective glass is not suitable.   For members with 4-foot registers, the company for your protection will provide masks; they are on order and will be available soon.  Plexiglas protection will begin in the Hudson Valley (because that is currently a Covid-19 hot spot), and will work its way up through the chain of stores. (A priority for installation given to areas that have a large population of confirmed C-19 cases)   Cash Registers now should have social distancing boxes on the floors, and new cups for change (money) so cashiers don’t have to hand change directly to customers. Hand sanitizer will be rolled out in all of the Tops stores this week.  (And will be made available for in-store use before it is put on shelves for sale).

Every store has a new sanitation position that cleans everyday from 8am to 8pm.  This position is responsible for cleaning key touch points throughout the front end.  Every two hours registers are thoroughly cleaned, every one-hour cashiers are given a break to wash hands and sanitize.  Cashiers do not have to bag groceries if the customer brings in a reusable bag (cashiers will ask the customer to bag items into their own reusable bag), cashiers can bag in clean, Tops provided bags. 

Members that feel exhausted and need a day off can take one.  You will not be written up if you have problems with childcare, or if you need to take your child, parent, and/or grandparent for medical care.  This will make it easier on you when you have an appointment, or are just having a bad day and need a break.    

We are working on a benefit for members that are sent home for self-quarantine, for caring for a child, or sick spouse, parent or grandparent, or if you have an underlying health condition, or live with someone with an underlying health condition that makes you or them susceptible to the virus.  We are also working with Tops for language on when you would be sent home for feeling ill, and if you are sent home how would you be paid and for how long.  We do not know if anything can be worked out, but at many other union stores across the country, provisions are being made for extended sick benefits.  Currently, if you cannot work and it is virus related your choices are unemployment, using your paid time off and/or vacation and disability.  

Please inform your Union Representative or Union Steward if there are other safety concerns you have and we will address them with your company on our daily conference calls.

Cleaning all shelves, registers, protective screens, safe spacing in line.

Optimizing Checkout Sanitation

We’re continuing to take every precaution to ensure the highest levels of sanitization throughout our stores. To promote a safer and healthier checkout experience for our guests and Team Members, we’re working around the clock to make the following updates to all Giant Eagle, Market District, and GetGo locations:

  • Installing plexiglass dividers at checkout, Pharmacy, and Customer Service counters.
  • Installing floor indicators and signage at checkout lanes to show appropriate social distance between guests.
  • Asking guests to refrain from bringing reusable bags into stores.

Additionally, all guest purchases will be bagged in either single-use plastic bags or paper bags, both of which will be available at no charge.

First Responder Designation

President Frank DeRiso has spoke to New York Governor Cuomo requesting food workers being designated as First Responders during this Pandemic.

Why is this important to food workers?

Our country’s grocery, retail, pharmacy and food processing workers are working tirelessly during this outbreak to ensure families get the food and supplies they need. We need these workers to stay healthy more than ever before and protecting them is essential to our communities and the food supply.  

President DeRiso has urged New York’s Governor, and the UFCW International Union has been in contact with Pennsylvania’s Governor urging them to designate grocery store, pharmacy, and food processing workers as first responders to support the workers who are keeping food on the tables during this crisis.

Who would be covered?

·       Grocery store, pharmacy, and food processing workers are on the front line of the COVID-19 epidemic. Workers up and down the food chain have been required to work in order to ensure our homes have adequate food, supplies, and prescription drugs during this crisis. In doing so, many food workers have already been exposed or will become exposed as this virus continues to spread.

·       Grocery store, pharmacy and food processing employees have been working extended hours to restack shelves, opening early to allow seniors, disabled and at-risk individuals to shop at a dedicated hour, and dealing with panic-buying customers who often taken their frustrations out on employees. They are working long hours under extremely difficult, stressful and often hazardous conditions to make sure the public has access to food, prescriptions and medical supplies.

·       Like our health care members, grocery store, pharmacy and food processing workers are “essential workers” on the front lines of this battle. They deserve not only our gratitude but adequate protection and provision for their health, safety and financial security.

What does first responder status mean?

·       Grocery store, pharmacy and food processing workers who must work during this epidemic should be given “first responder status” which would make them eligible for free childcare while working, free coverage for all coronavirus treatments, tests, and medicines and personal protective equipment.

·       First responder status allows workers to temporarily have access to additional state benefits. These benefits come at a pivotal time as our members are working to sustain the food supply when demand is high and schools are closed. Like the rest of us, grocery store, pharmacy and food processing workers have children who are no longer attending school and are themselves at risk of getting sick.

Food workers are essential.

·       America’s food workers are on the front lines of the pandemic and play a critical role not just in the economy but in the healthy functioning and survival of our society. 

States are doing it.

·        MinnesotaMichigan, and Vermont have designated grocery workers as “first responders,” similar to health care workers and other essential personnel, which will give them access to free childcare.

Food workers are on the front line.

·       Like other first responders, food workers are on the front lines of this crisis and have been exposed to health hazards, but this is not what they signed up for.  Policymakers must designate grocery, pharmacy and food processing workers as first responders for their health, safety and financial security.

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