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.
April 8, 2020
TORONTO— Unifor welcomes Air Canada’s announcement that it intends to use a new federal wage supplement plan to top up the pay of more than 3,000 Unifor members who were placed on Off Duty Status due to COVID-19.
“Canada’s airline industry has been resilient in the face of past economic downturns and health crises in the past. The same is not always true for airline workers who often bear hardship, loss of income, and deteriorating working conditions during the recovery process,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This time must be different. We have to show airline workers that they are valued. Air Canada is taking a big step toward recognizing the contributions of hardworking employees with today’s announcement.”
On March 31, Air Canada announced that it was putting 15,600 of its unionized workers on Off Duty Status effective on or about April 3, 2020, with no stated end date. Today’s announcement by the company that subject to final review of the legislation it plans to access the proposed Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program will benefit all employees on voluntary or involuntary layoff. The company will allow employees to stay at home while receiving 75 per cent of their wages to a maximum of $847 weekly.
“Unifor members in the airline sector face substantial, and lasting consequences as the efforts to contain the virus intensify around the world,” said Euila Leonard, President of Unifor Local 2002. “Today’s announcement gives a sigh of relief to workers, and shows that their employer respects the role they have played to make Air Canada one of the best airlines globally.”
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 further information: For media inquiries or to arrange an interview with Jerry Dias via Skype or FaceTime, contact Hamid Osman, Unifor National Communications Representative at 647-448-2823 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
“Bullying and hatred don’t stop because of a pandemic. This means we need to keep working as allies and standing with our LGBTQI2S friends, family, and community members. We might not be physically together, but you are never alone.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
“We expected a workforce adjustment given the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the spirit of ‘getting through this together,’ we expected more from BC Ferries. These workers and their families deserve better.” — Grame Johnston, Provincial President, BCFMWU
Tell the big banks and credit card companies they need to do their part to help Canadian families and support our economy in these extraordinary times.
America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Announces New Partnership with Major Grocery Chain in Full-Page New York Times Ad Campaign
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Albertsons Companies — which employs more than 250,000 grocery workers across the country at Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel Osco, Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons supermarkets — joined the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union, in announcing a joint national effort to seek a temporary designation of “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel” for supermarket associates to ensure that they are prioritized for testing and provided personal protection equipment during the coronavirus outbreak.
The UFCW is announcing the joint effort to address workplace and public safety in an open letter to our nation’s policymakers and influencers in a full-page advertisement in today’s New York Times print edition of the newspaper.
Albertsons Companies President & CEO Vivek Sankaran and UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“Since the onset of this pandemic, associates in Albertsons Companies stores, who are also proud members of UFCW union, have been working tirelessly to make sure that America’s families have the food and groceries they need. These men and women are sacrificing every day to protect our nation’s food supply, and now is the time for our leaders in state and federal governments to do the same for them.
“The temporary designation of first responder or emergency personnel status would help ensure these incredible grocery workers access to priority testing, have access to personal protection equipment, like masks and gloves, as well other workplace protections necessary to keep themselves and the customers they serve safe and healthy.
“This joint action is an example of how all Americans must work together to protect everyone working on the front lines. This includes not only our brave first responders and healthcare workers but also associates at our nation’s grocery stores who are providing communities with the essential food and supplies needed to weather this public health crisis.”
A copy of the New York Times advertisement announcing the joint effort can be seen here.
Several states have taken measures to ensure grocery store workers have access to similar benefits and protections as first responders:
- Grocery store workers have access to emergency childcare in the following states: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.
- Governors in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have issued executive orders to ensure grocery stores are safer workplaces.
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 www.ufcw.org.
Toronto – April 7, 2020 – As the federal and provincial governments try to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, one politician has been working diligently behind the scenes to ensure that the federal response helps workers and their families.
(Ottawa — April 7, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) are calling on the federal government to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to post-secondary students and contract academic staff.
“Students and contract academic staff are seeing their job offers vanish and will have limited or no income over the coming months because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “We’re urging the government to ensure that students and our most vulnerable workers are not left behind.”
“Many students, even if they do work during the school year, are not eligible for the CERB and their prospects for the summer are grim. Students must be included in this much-needed emergency benefit. It is essential that the federal government offers support to those who are falling through the cracks," says Canadian Federation of Students Chairperson, Sofia Descalzi.
Many students and contract academic staff rely on income from spring and summer jobs to help make ends meet, but there are significantly fewer summer employment opportunities today than in a normal year. Even if a student made over $5,000 in their previous summer job, they are not eligible for the CERB if they did not lose a job because of the pandemic.
With colleges and universities cancelling spring and summer courses, some contract academic staff may see their incomes reduced to below the $2,000 per month provided through the CERB.
For more information, please contact:
Geneviève Charest, Canadian Federation of Students, 613-240-2631 or email@example.com
Director of Communication, Canadian Association of University Teachers, 613-293-1810 or firstname.lastname@example.org
"This paper is one step of many that NUPGE will be taking on the topic of COVID-19 and income inequality. We know more work needs to be done on specific needs for different vulnerable populations. The problems facing our northern Indigenous communities are going to be different from the problems facing a new immigrant family who reside in the Greater Toronto Area. We want to make sure everyone's voice is heard and their needs addressed. We hope this paper helps our lawmakers to understand the complexity of how COVID-19 affects different social and economic groups and encourages them to take further action." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
"The current pandemic might have been unpredictable. But strong public health systems rooted in a global economic order which prioritises solidarity and the wellbeing of people and the planet over the profits of a few would have made it much more manageable. The unfolding public health, social and economic crisis is a clarion call of history for drastic change. It is now clear that we cannot rely on the market to protect our health." — Baba Aye, PSI Health & Social Services Officer