Note to all members: One of the most important ways we can prevent the spread of this illness is to stay home from work if you are feeling ill. If you have any questions about your right to stay home from work, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The main UFCW 1776KS office number is 1-866-329-1776 or you can find your regional office number at this link.
If you believe your employer is not following proper safety guidelines or you would like to report safety concerns, send your name, workplace, contact information, and a description of your concerns to: email@example.com .
Frequently asked questions from members about novel coronavirus/COVID-19
For Frequently Asked Questions for Health Care Workers Scroll down further
Note: we will continue to update this post as questions arise and new information becomes available.
Q: HOW SERIOUS IS THE ILLNESS CAUSED BY THIS NEW VIRUS?
A: According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, symptoms of the COVID-19 can include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
Q: WHO IS IN A “HIGH RISK” CATEGORY FOR SERIOUS ILLNESS FROM THIS VIRUS?
A: Because this is a new virus, scientists and public health experts are still studying it. Currently, the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the highest risk categories are older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. The Pennsylvania Department of Health says that older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. If you are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications due to age or because you have a severe underlying medical condition, it is especially important for you to take action to reduce your risk of exposure.
Q: I FEEL SICK, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
A. If you get sick with a fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), cough, or have trouble breathing, seek medical care; tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms, avoid contact with others. If you need medical care for other reasons, call ahead to 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) and to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel to an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19. You should also stay home from work and away from public places.
Q: I FEEL SICK, BUT I DON’T WANT TO STAY HOME FROM WORK.
A: One of the absolute most effective ways to prevent the spread of this illness is to stay home if you are sick. We have fought hard for the right to paid sick leave and other leave language in our contracts, and we have the right to use it. Many contracts have additional sick leave, PTO, or other leave benefits you may be able to utilize. Your employer may have a COVID-19 policy in place regarding COVID-19 illness or potential illness. Use your contract and ask a Steward or Union Rep if you need help.
Q: I FEEL SICK, BUT I’M OUT OF PAID SICK TIME.
A: You should let your manager know as soon as possible that you feel unwell and need to go home or stay home. Our employers should be following the CDC’s best practices for employers right now, which includes encouraging people to stay home when they are sick, and we are talking to employers to ensure members can stay safe. If you have any issues, call your Union Rep or email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you can so they can help.
Q: WHAT SHOULD I DO DURING SCHOOL CLOSURES IF I DON’T HAVE CHILDCARE?
A: We are working with employers regarding the importance of following public health guidelines during an outbreak, which includes being flexible about giving workers who need to stay home access to paid leave.
US Congress has passed a bill that would apply to those who work for an employer with more than 50, but less than 500 employees: Employees may be provides with two weeks of pay and/or 30 days of FMLA leave (the first 10 days are unpaid, remainder at 2/3 pay for up to 30 days).
The PA Department of Human Services has mandated that certified child care centers close, but if the center serves essential personnel like healthcare workers, first responders, essential retail workers or workers at food production facilities, they may apply for an exemption to remain open. Additionally, during daycare closures, families on CCIS assistance (Child Care Works) do not have to pay a tuition share and any absences will not count against the 40-day absence maximum.
This is an emerging situation and we will keep you updated as we get new answers. Your Shop Steward or Union Rep are ready to help you advocate for yourself and your family if you are navigating a difficult circumstance.
Q: WILL I HAVE ACCESS TO PAY OR BENEFITS IF I AM QUARANTINED DUE TO COVID-19?
A: Currently, there is no statewide determination regarding COVID-19 illnesses or quarantine. Many of our employers have established their own policies regarding COVID-19 illness or quarantine. In addition, the PA Department of Labor and Industry has ruled that employees can access unemployment compensation benefits when they are quarantined. If you or a coworker is quarantined, contact your Steward or Union Rep as soon as you can.
Q: HOW CAN I MAKE SURE MY EMPLOYER IS FOLLOWING PROPER SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR MY WORKPLACE?
A: Your employer should be providing you with access to hand sanitizer and tissues, hands-free garbage cans to throw away tissues, breaks for hand washing, and should be ensuring that all high-touch surfaces in your work area are cleaned regularly. The guidance we have received from public health experts is that the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing work areas and customer areas depends on the level of use and level of contact. Employers should ensure the hourly cleaning and sanitizing of common surfaces or surfaces that get regular contact. If the level of use/contact by customers or workers is high, they may need to be cleaned even more frequently. The Wolf administration has issued guidance to businesses to help limit the spread of COVID-19 on March 16.
Frequently asked questions from health care members
Q: IS MY EMPLOYER REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ME WITH PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)?
A: Your employer is required to provide you with any and all equipment required to do your job safely and training to use it correctly. The CDC is offering guidelines for health care workers, and you should review these regularly to stay up to date and ensure your employer is complying with these guidelines.
Q: I HEARD THE CDC CHANGED THEIR INTERIM GUIDELINES FOR WHAT KIND OF PRECAUTIONS AND PPE WE SHOULD BE USING, IS THAT TRUE?
A: As of 3/10/20, the CDC has updated their interim guidelines to say that when there are limited supplies of PPE like N95 masks and PAPRs, facemasks are an acceptable alternative. During a time of respirator shortage, “available respirators should be prioritized for procedures that are likely to generate respiratory aerosols.” When the supply chain of respirators is restored, health care personnel should return to using respirators when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. We are advocating with government bodies and employers for health care workers’ right to the highest level of protection at work while also maintaining enough PPE for everyone.
Q: WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM ASKED TO DO SOMETHING I THINK IS UNSAFE?
A: You have the right to a safe workplace and safe working conditions. Be careful and responsible: You can refuse to do something you genuinely and reasonably think is unsafe, but you should not refuse a direct request from a supervisor without a good reason. If you face discipline, contact your Steward or Union Rep immediately. You can also reach out to COVID19@ufcw1776.org with any concerns.
Q: DO I HAVE TO USE MY PTO IF I AM EXPOSED TO COVID-19 AT WORK AND QUARANTINED?
As the COVID-19 situation rapidly evolves, we have been in contact with all of the 100 + Employers where our members work to discuss and negotiate terms for leave of absence and compensation in event of closures and/or COVID-19 diagnosis. For details specific to your employer please contact your Union Representative by calling our toll-free number at 866.329.1776 and please remember that our Representatives are in the field working alongside our members and stand ready to assist.
In addition, you can email us at our new COVID-19 Response Email at COVID19@ufcw1776.org. Please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center by Clicking Here. We are also updating our website throughout the day with important updates. Our team is working around the clock to assist all members and your families throughout this crisis.
Q: I RECEIVED A LETTER FROM EMPLOYEE HEALTH NOTIFYING ME THAT I WAS EXPOSED TO A PATIENT THAT RECENTLY TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AND THAT I WAS TO STAY HOME IN QUARANTINE FOR THE NEXT 14 DAYS. BUT MY MANAGER SAID I JUST NEEDED TO MASK UP AND COME IN TO WORK, IS THAT TRUE?
A: Public Health officials ask that people who have been exposed to a communicable disease to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. If you are asked to come into work after being advised to stay home due to exposure, contact your Steward or Union Rep immediately. If you have symptoms like a cough, fever, shortness of breath, or other respiratory problems, you should call your health care provider or the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).
We are monitoring this situation and updating our website at ufcw1776.org.
If you believe your employer is not following proper safety guidelines or you would like to report safety concerns, send your name, workplace, contact information, and a description of your concerns to: COVID19@ufcw1776.org
We are communicating with our members more frequently than ever via text, phone call, and email. Please update your information as soon as possible with your Steward! You can also update your contact information by visiting our website at ufcw1776.org.