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  • An Important Message for Members Regarding COVID - 19
    Updated On: Apr 07, 2020
    Wendell Young IV
    UFCW 1776KS President
    To All Members:

    I am so proud of the women and men who are Local 1776 KS of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. While most Americans are sheltering at home, our members are keeping Pennsylvania fed, taking care of the elderly, and are confronting the dangers of COVID-19 every day at work to get the job done. And our members who are not working are paying an enormous economic price for the pandemic.

    While you are working, so is your Union. Your officers and agents are not sheltering at home. We are out in the field to make sure employers are providing equipment and support to help you to work safely. We are determined to ensure that you are working in a safe environment and that you have adequate access to paid sick leave if you are sick, quarantining or caring for a sick family member. Local 1776KS is your voice! We need to fight for a fair and safe work place together!

    Every worker should have additional paid sick leave to address the impact of the virus. Even the federal government and the CDC recognize this simple truth. Coming to work sick endangers us all.

    Workers should not be punished for calling in sick by harsh attendance policies or uncaring supervisors.
    Everyone working should be provided with the appropriate protective equipment to keep them safe and they should be trained to effectively use them.

    Every workplace needs adequate hand washing facilities and workers should be given adequate time to wash thoroughly and regularly.
    Every workplace needs to be cleaned and sanitized regularly.

    Workers who are infected at work or most likely infected at work should be filing for workers compensation benefits. We will be advocating for a presumption that workers who have been deemed essential and who have worked during the national emergency and who get sick, got sick because they were going to work frequently in places where possible exposure is increased. Our members who are working are taking care of America and deserve no less. That’s why we believe that everyone working during this national emergency should receive enhanced wages.

    And our members who are unemployed because of the impact of the pandemic should be getting enhanced unemployment compensation benefits without a waiting period. We are pushing our employers to continue health care benefits and income support. But if your employer is not doing that, file for UC benefits immediately.

    Many of our employers have worked with us to establish appropriate protocols for creating and maintaining a safe work environment. Many have implemented enhanced sick leave benefits, even employers for whom the federal mandate does not apply. Many have suspended attendance policies and offered especially vulnerable workers unpaid leaves to avoid the dangers of work. We applaud those employers and we are comfortable to be working together to protect our members.

    And then there are the other employers who have placed profits ahead of people. There are some who have refused to provide enhanced access to paid sick leave; failed to adopt appropriate sanitizing protocols; refused to adopt policies to change the workplace to make distancing more practical, to provide adequate time and facilities for workers to wash regularly, to suspend attendance policies and even some who have refused to grant voluntary unpaid leave to their most vulnerable employees. These thoughtless and unpatriotic employers have chosen to continue to operate, to continue to make money while refusing to spend some of those profits to make us all a little safer. We shall hold them accountable for the impact of their irresponsible behavior. 

    If you are working for one of these employers and you feel exposed or inadequately protected from the virus, complain and call your union for help.  We will intervene, but we need to hear from you! 

    Remember this: you do not owe your life or that of your loved ones to your employer!

    OSHA requires that an employer ensure that its workplace be free of recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious harm. Section 502 of the Labor Management Relations Act permits employees to refuse work due to a good faith belief that the work or workplace contain “abnormally dangerous conditions.” If you are worried, tell your employer, tell your shop steward, and tell us! I am not suggesting that you refuse to go to work. I am suggesting that you have a right to demand that the employer protect you and if he or she refuses, than you have the right to decide what is best for you and your family and we will be there to help you.

    We are all in this together, folks who are at work and folks who are not. We are one Union. It is a challenging time for all of us. It’s ok to be scared. It is imperative that we come together to support each other, to empower each other, to care for the sick and fight to keep all of us safe. Together we will get through this!

    We will continue updating our COVID-19 Resource Center with information regarding your worksite, as well as additional links to help you and your family throughout this crisis.

    And, please, take just a few seconds to send us your contact information so that we can keep you informed.
    Please contact your Union Representative at our toll-free number 866.329.1776 if you need more information.
    Thank you,
    Wendell W Young IV
    UFCW Local 1776 Keystone State