Toronto – April 11, 2020 – UFCW food retail members are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and are doing their part to make sure that everyone gets the food and supplies they need as safely and efficiently as possible.
Traditionally One of the Biggest Grocery Shopping Weekends of the Year, the UFCW Calls on Americans to Take All Necessary Safety Steps When Shopping
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Kroger Co. and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in food and retail, called for customers to exercise caution when grocery shopping for Easter this weekend. Ahead of one of the biggest grocery shopping weekends of the year, the union urges shoppers to stay safe as the coronavirus outbreak continues to put both customers and workers at risk.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“As millions of Americans shop for groceries this holiday weekend, we urge all customers to exercise caution as the coronavirus continues to put both shoppers and workers at risk all across the country. Grocery workers are on the front lines of this outbreak and have been working around the clock to make sure families have the food and supplies they need to stay safe.
“To help reduce the spread of this killer virus, it is absolutely critical that all Easter weekend grocery shoppers wear a mask while shopping, practice social distancing throughout the store, safely discard gloves and masks in trash cans, limit the number of trips and shoppers to an absolute minimum, and respect special shopping times for seniors.
“All Americans have a responsibility to help protect these essential workers and their fellow shoppers. Working together, by taking simple safety steps, we can help protect countless lives and keep our nation’s food supply strong.”
With the number of COVID-19 infections for frontline workers increasing, the UFCW sent a letter to the CDC this week calling for mandatory guidance specifically for grocery stores, pharmacies and food processing facilities, during the COVID-19 outbreak.
This week, the UFCW partnered with Albertsons Companies, one of the biggest grocery chains in the country, on a new national campaign to designate grocery workers as first responders to ensure that they have access to the testing, personal protective equipment, and other assistance they need to keep grocery stores open and running during the outbreak.
UFCW International and UFCW local unions across the country have been working with top companies in the grocery and supermarket companies to secure the protections these frontline workers need to stay safe and continue doing this essential work during the pandemic.
Grocery Store Safety Measures:
- Working with Kroger and Safeway/Albertsons, UFCW secured new protective measures for 710,000 grocery workers across the country who work at these stores. These protective measures include:
- Additional Cleaning and Sanitizing protocols which include allowing associates to wash their hands and sanitize their registers every 30 minutes.
- Shortened Store Operating Hours to provide ample time to allow restocking, cleaning, and to provide appropriate rest and relief for associates.
- Installing Plexiglass partitions at check lanes, pharmacy and Starbucks registers across each store.
- Adding Floor Decals to promote physical distancing at check lanes and other counters.
- In Stop & Shop stores across New England, New York, and New Jersey, 70,000 grocery workers received an additional 2 weeks of paid sick leave to ensure they are able to stay safe and healthy on the job.
- Click here to read more about how UFCW is keeping grocery workers and customers safe.
The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org.
Coldstream, B.C. – April 10, 2020 – Food processing workers at VegPro International are the newest members of UFCW Local 1518 after recently saying “Yes!” to joining the union.
As we head into the holiday weekend, here's a quick update on what we've been doing on your behalf as the COVID pandemic continues to unfold.
The proportion of Canadians who are “very worried” (32%) about losing their income is higher among women (36%).
Toronto – April 9, 2020 – With thousands of UFCW Canada members still on the front lines as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, more UFCW members have secured pay premiums and enhanced safety measures in recognition of their hard work during the crisis.
The MGEU launched a province-wide public information campaign today, beginning with a simple message: Manitobans can support our essential service workers by staying apart this weekend.
TORONTO —Unifor, working with a coalition of Ontario health care unions has succeeded in forcing the Ontario government to ensure health care workers within two meters of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient will have access to the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“We are only going to flatten the curve and beat the COVID-19 pandemic if health care workers are provided adequate safety tools needed to safely do their jobs,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We are relieved the Ford government listened to health care workers but this type of injustice should have never occurred in the first place. I am urging Premiers across the country to immediately implement similar measures.”
Today, the Ontario government revised “Directive #5 for Hospitals within the meaning of the Public Hospitals Act” to include all health care workers working at a hospital or long-term care facility to be able to perform a point of care assessment and, where there is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, determine the appropriate PPE to utilize.
“Today’s victory brings a huge sigh of relief to health care workers in Ontario,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President responsible for health care. “Knowing they will be provided appropriate health and safety control measures such as N95 respirators and appropriate isolation gowns means health care workers can focus on providing the best quality of care to Ontarians.”
The revised directive will require hospitals and long-term care homes to continually asses their PPE inventory, provide training on correct usage and develop contingency plans in consultation with unions to ensure the safety of health care workers.
The revised directive also stipulates that retirement homes must take all reasonable steps to follow the required precautions outlined in the order.
“We will be closely monitoring retirement home employers to ensure similar protocols are taken to ensure the safety of workers and their elderly residents,” said Dias.
TORONTO—Unifor welcomes the federal government’s tentative approval of Canada Emergency Wage Supplement (CEWS) funds for Jazz Aviation to maintain its workforce levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Airline workers will be the backbone of the industry’s economic recovery in a post-pandemic world,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It makes perfect sense to help cushion the impact of the temporary downturn with federal emergency funding.”
On April 8, 2020 Air Canada announced it would use CEWS funding to top up the wages of more than 3,000 workers on lay-off due to COVID-19.
Jazz, a regional Air Canada partner airline, recently announced it was putting nearly 1,300 Unifor members in airports division, aircraft maintenance divisions, and crew schedulers on Off Duty Status. Today, Jazz says it plans to access the CEWS to recall all employees on voluntary or involuntary layoff. Today’s announcement by the company is still subject to passing of the government emergency legislation. The company will allow employees to stay at home while receiving 75 per cent of their wages to a maximum of $847 weekly.
“Airline workers are one of the thousands of Canadian front-line workers in the global effort to contain the virus,” said Euila Leonard, President of Unifor Local 2002. “Although there are still details to be ironed out with the program, signing off on the deal was the right thing to do for our members. Jazz’s commitment to work with Unifor is a recognition of the role our members play in making the company a successful regional carrier.”
On March 28, 2020, Unifor joined with other Canadian airline unions in sharing concerns and providing solutions to help the industry return to economic health and prosperity. Unifor has called on the government that any financial aid package delivered to any industry, including air travel must be accompanied by strong, enforceable conditions that ensure financial aid is tied to maintaining income for current employees and creating employment.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.
For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype or FaceTime interview with Jerry Dias please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).
America’s Largest Food and Retail Union Sends Letter to CDC Director Redfield Calling for Additional Protections for Grocery Stores, Pharmacies, and Food Processing Facilities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in food and retail, sent a letter calling on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to immediately issue mandatory guidance for grocery stores, pharmacies and food processing facilities to ensure that America’s frontline workers and our country’s food supply and prescription drugs remain safe.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“American workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, and food production are on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak to make sure families have the food and medicine they need. Every day, these brave workers are in close contact with sometimes thousands of customers, increasing their own risk of becoming infected with the virus.
“With the growing threat of the coronavirus, we are urging the CDC to issue new mandatory guidance that standardizes safety protocols for grocery stores, pharmacies, food processing and meatpacking facilities. Given the nature of the threat, the CDC must also provide new guidelines for physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, disinfecting and hygiene practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and best practices for customers.
“It is absolutely critical that the CDC do more to help protect frontline workers who are at daily risk of becoming infected and even dying from the Coronavirus. This is about not just saving the lives of these workers, but also about protecting the customers they serve. It is about protecting and maintaining the safety of our food supply. Keeping these workers safe will help keep America safe. The CDC must act now to issue strong new safety guidance. American lives are on the line. These workers’ lives are on the line. We cannot wait any longer.”
Today, the UFCW sent a letter calling for the CDC to issue mandatory guidance specifically for grocery stores, pharmacies and food processing facilities, during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the letter, UFCW called on the CDC to issue detailed guidance on the following in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among workers and customers and to keep food supply and prescription drugs safe:
Grocery Stores and Pharmacies
- In-Store Social Distancing:
- Limit the number of consumers in a store at any given time to 20 to 30 percent of the store’s capacity.
- Implement procedures to ensure that both employees and customers always remain at least six feet apart.
- Procedures should include a marked “social distancing line” which begins six feet away from all checkout counters.
- Improve Disinfecting, Sanitizing & Hygiene Practices:
- Employees must be provided with sufficient break times to wash their hands as necessary or, at a minimum, every 30 minutes.
- Sanitize frequent touchpoints, including point of sale terminals at registers throughout the day.
- Provide disinfecting wipes for customers to disinfect carts, as well as at cash registers.
- Designate employee(s) to ensure cleaning guidelines set by the CDC are followed.
- Provide set time to allow for stores to be properly sanitized and re-stocked.
- Mandate Wearing of Personal Protective Equipment:
- Mandate that all workers wear masks, gloves, and any other personal protective equipment (PPE) available at the workplace.
- Mandate all employers to provide N95 masks, gloves, and other PPE when it becomes available.
- Urge Americans to Help Save Lives by Shopping Smart
- Call on all Americans to practice the following each time they visit a grocery store or pharmacy:
- Always wear a cloth face cover, ideally a mask, when inside the store.
- Limit number of shoppers to one per family
- Practice social distancing throughout the store – not just at check-out stands.
- Properly discard their own PPE in trash cans.
- Respect special shopping times for seniors.
- Call on all Americans to practice the following each time they visit a grocery store or pharmacy:
Food Processing and Packing Plants
- Improve Safety Conditions:
- Mandate that all employers provide PPE, and that workers wear PPE during the workday.
- Ensure social distancing practices are implemented across the workplace at all times where possible.
- When social distancing is not possible, PPE must be provided and used by all employees. No exceptions.
- Make sure that safety practices are clearly posted throughout facility and are in the necessary languages for employees to read.
- Provide PPEs for workers, including face masks.
The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.
Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org
Laid off Employees
Members who have been laid off can apply for EI. Application must be done online at this time. The one week waiting period has been eliminated at this time.
If an employee does not have access to paid sick leave and is off sick for any reason or is in quarantine due to COVID-19, the employee can apply for EI sick benefits. At this time, you do not need to provide a medical certificate if your sick leave is related to COVID-19, including if you are self-quarantining. If you develop symptoms while in quarantine, you may need to restart your sick leave EI clock, as the quarantine EI only covers 14 days of quarantine.
Qualifying for EI
If you are applying for regular EI due to layoff, you will need between 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment during the appropriate qualifying period for your region. These amounts are found at: https://srv129.services.gc.ca/ei_regions/eng/postalcode_search.aspx. For sick leave, you must have at least 600 insurable hours in the previous 52 weeks.
EI weekly benefits are based on 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings up to a maximum of $573 per week (based on a maximum annual salary of $54,200). These amounts are taxable. Sick leave EI is payable for up to 15 weeks. Regular EI is payable for a period based on the number of insurable hours you have for the previous 52 weeks, and the economic region you live. It can be for a maximum of 45 weeks.
Working while on EI
You may work while receiving regular EI benefits. You will be able to keep 50 cents of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn at work, up to 90% of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate your EI amount. Beyond that threshold, your EI benefit will be deducted dollar for dollar from what you earn.
If you make an EI application, regardless of the reason, it will automatically trigger a CERB application.
Don’t try to figure out if you qualify for EI before applying. Submit your application. EI will determine if you qualify and what your benefit level will be.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is a taxable benefit of $2,000 per month. It will be available for up to 16 weeks, between March 15 and October 3.
Apply here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html. Note that they request you apply on certain days depending on your month of birth.
The following categories of workers qualify for the benefit:
- workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
- workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
- workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
- wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
- In order to qualify, you must have not received any income for 14 days, be at least 15 years old, and must have earned at least $5,000 in the last year.
If you have already applied for EI, but are not yet receiving EI, your EI claim will be automatically moved over to the CERB program and you will be paid from that program first. You can then apply for regular EI once the 16 weeks of CERB benefits end. If you are already receiving EI, you can apply for the CERB if your EI claim expires before October 3.
B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers
If you receive either EI benefits or the CERB due to COVID-19, you are eligible for a one-time $1,000 payment from the BC Government. For more info, check https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/covid-19-financial-supports/emergency-benefit-workers
- As of March 30, 2020, student loan payments are automatically frozen for six months
- Contact BC Hydro and ICBC directly regarding their deferment programs.
- BC will provide grants of up to $500 per month to subsidise rental payments. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/covid-19-support?bcgovtm=20200319_GCPE_AM_COVID_4_NOTIFICATION_BCGOV_BCGOV_EN_BC__NOTIFICATION
- Your financial institution may offer mortgage and loan deferral programs as well.
Attachments 2020-04-06 Memo from SReps to PC re Benefits During COVID-19 Emerg.pdf
Toronto – April 8, 2020 – Periods of crisis are especially bad for people in abusive relationships. With the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding, it is a stressful time marked by health anxiety and significant job loss. And unfortunately, stress is a trigger for abusers.