Phone: 425-252-3800

General Teamsters Union Local 38
COVID-19 Updates

News & Updates

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You can report violations of the Governor's proclamation at the Governor's Safety report site https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/09349a1c56844b539fea1c2cabd16d56

Governor Inslee issued a proclamation with new rules for people who may be at higher risk for serious illness or complications from COVID-19.

(Find a list of those high-risk groups below).

In Washington State, it is now required that your employer provide accommodations to you at work that protect you from risk of exposure to COVID-19 if you are in a high-risk category and you request accommodations. These accommodations can include, but are not limited to: 

  • telework

  • alternative or remote work locations 

  • reassignment 

  • social distancing measures 

If your employer determines that an alternative work arrangement is not feasible for you, they must permit you to use all your available accrued leave options or unemployment insurance, in any sequence and at your discretion, and they cannot retaliate against you for doing so. 

If you use up your paid time off, your employer still cannot permanently replace you at work for exercising your rights under this proclamation. 

These new rules are in effect for both public- and private-sector workers until 11:59 PM on June 12, 2020, unless they are extended even further. 

Who is in a “high-risk” category? 

The Centers for Disease Control currently defines those at higher risk as

  • People 65 years and older 

  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility

  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including: 

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma 

  • People who have serious heart conditions 

  • People who are immunocompromised 

  • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications 

  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher) 

  • People with diabetes 

  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis 

  • People with liver disease 

Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries on Protecting Grocery Store Workers

Our state’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has produced a document with their recommendations for grocery stores to ensure that stores comply with the state’s social distancing requirements. Find a printable PDF of this document on the L&I website here. 

If you think your store is not following social distancing protocols, there are lots of ways to report that, including via safety and health complaints or through the state’s COVID-19 social distancing report form

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Protecting Grocery Store Workers 

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) requires employers to implement the Governor’s proclamation. Employers must ensure social distancing for employees and customers; frequent and adequate handwashing; and that sick employees stay home. Employers must also provide basic workplace hazard education about coronavirus and how to prevent transmission in languages best understood by employees. 

Workplace Discrimination 

It is against the law for any employer to take any adverse action such as firing or threats against a worker for exercising safety and health rights such as raising safety and health concerns to their employer, participating in union activities concerning safety and health, filing a safety and health complaint or participating in a Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) investigation. Workers have 30 days to file their complaint with L&I DOSH and/or with Federal OSHA. 

Ideas for an Effective Social Distancing Plan: 

  • Limit the number of customers entering the store to facilitate social distancing at store entrances, throughout store and at check-out lines.  

  • Require all workers to stay at least six feet away from customers and coworkers.  

  • Temporarily mark six-foot increments (using adhesive colored tape, chalk, etc.) on the ground or floor to ensure social distancing.  

  • Post large print attention-grabbing signs readable from a far distance (or use portable, electronic reader boards) that inform customers of social distancing practices.  

  • Designate workers to monitor and facilitate distancing at check-out lines.  

  • Discontinue self-serve foods, free sample stands and product demonstrations. 

Ideas for an Effective Handwashing Plan: 

  • Install hand-sanitizing dispensers at store entrances and at key locations inside for customers.  

  • Ensure all workers know why and how to effectively wash hands for at least twenty seconds.  

  • Require workers to wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least twenty seconds, such as when they arrive at work, leave their workstations for breaks, eat, use tobacco, and after handling money.  

  • Ensure gloves are used for cart retrievers, handling money, common use of the same cash register or keypad by different cashiers, food safety and cleaning.  

  • Set up a schedule to keep these supplies well stocked and trash emptied. 

Ensure Sick Workers Are Not at Work:  

  • Monitor employees for signs of illness and require sick workers to stay home.  

  • Ensure employees know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 caused by coronavirus exposure. 

Ideas for Providing Basic Workplace Hazard Education About Preventing Coronavirus Transmission: 

  • Instruct all workers on social distancing, handwashing, and other store-wide safety procedures related to coronavirus.  

  • Teach workers the importance of hand washing before eating, drinking, or using tobacco.  

  • Advise on respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes and not touching eyes, noses, and mouths with unwashed hands or gloves.  

  • Prohibit sharing utensils, phones, work tools, and other workplace items that are not sanitized.  

  • Communicate important safety messages/ updates daily with methods such as posters, reader boards, etc. 

Checkout Stands and Counters Considerations  

  • Consider closing self-check stands if not all surfaces can be sanitized between customers and if it is not possible to ensure at least six feet between users.  

  • Consider installing “sneeze shields” at check stands, and ask customers to stand behind them, or relocate pay station key pads further away from worker.  

  • When supplies are available, provide disposable wipes/hand sanitizer at check-out stands for employees and customers (e.g. at key pads, registers, bagging area).  

  • Prohibit reusable shopping bags and provide single use bags for groceries. 

Stocking and Surface Cleaning 

  • Schedule as much stocking and deep cleaning as possible during closing hours. If a 24-hour store, stock during the slowest period of the night.  

  • Appoint a designated sanitation worker(s) at all times to continuously clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces on a significantly increased schedule. Use the environmental cleaning guidelines set by the CDC.  

  • When disinfecting for coronavirus, the EPA recommends using the longest recommended contact time and/or most concentrated solution per the label.  

  • Be sure to follow the label directions for FOOD CONTACT SURFACES when using the chemical near or on utensils and food contact surfaces.  

  • Use protective gloves and eye/face protection (e.g. face shields and/or goggles) when mixing, spraying, and wiping with liquid cleaning products, like diluted bleach. 

Other Protective Measures 

  • Provide ways for workers to express any concerns and ideas to improve safety.  

  • Alert store managers or shift supervisors of strategies on handling customers or workers who are not following social distancing practices or demonstrate signs of illness during the visit. For example, it might be helpful to move a coughing customer out of line to a separate checkout station distant from others.  

  • Update store Accident Prevention Program (APP) to include awareness and prevention measures for diseases and viruses.  

Resources 

L&I’s COVID-19 webpage   

Get help  

For a free safety and health consultation go to http://www.Lni.wa.gov/SafetyConsultants or call 1-800-423-7233 or visit a local L&I office. 

UNSAFE WORK ASSIGNMENT Q & A

During the COVID-19 crisis workers have been encountering situations that may be considered unsafe work assignments. In the normal day-to-day operations at work, workers are generally required to comply with management orders and directives. Complying with management directives is considered part of your job duties and not doing so can lead to discipline. Employees covered under a Union contract should usually "obey now, and grieve later." But situations might be different when you are being asked to do something unsafe. 

The following Q & A addresses a specific exception to the general rule that employees must obey orders and grieve them later. If you are being asked to do something unsafe at work, you should call your Union Rep (call 425 252 3800 to be connected). Due to the high volume of calls we are receiving you may be directed to voicemail, but someone will reach out to you as soon as they can. 

Q:  I've been asked to perform a work assignment that I feel will threaten my personal safety and expose me to serious bodily harm.  Does my Union contract provide any protections for me?

A:  Because you are covered by a Union contract the answer is yes.  Your Union contract includes a just cause provision.  In this situation, just cause means you should not be disciplined for refusing to obey an unreasonable order.  An order to perform a work assignment that is likely to cause serious bodily harm to an employee is not reasonable.  To be covered by this exception, your fear of bodily harm must be objectively reasonable and not speculative.

Q:  Are there any specific laws that offer protection to workers who are asked to perform unsafe work assignments?

A:  Yes, there are state and federal laws that provide additional or separate protections.  One example is OSHA (click here to read an OSHA summary).

Q:  What should I say to my employer if asked to perform a work assignment that is likely to cause me serious bodily harm?

A:  It is always best to try to work with management to solve the problem.  For example, you should explain to management why you feel the work assignment is unsafe or dangerous so that your employer has an opportunity to problem solve.  You can also tell your supervisor you would be happy to accept the work assignment if it can be made safe to perform i.e., by providing you with adequate equipment or protective devices, adequate supplies, protective clothing, additional staffing, etc.     

Q:  Should I leave work if my employer insists that I perform the unsafe work assignment?

A:  No, under most circumstances, you should stay on site and remain available to work safe assignments.  If management sends you home, asks to meet with you to investigate the situation, or issues you any discipline, you should contact your union rep immediately.

3/20/2020 Safeway/Albertsons (including Haggen) agreed to pay Hazard Pay for all members for all worked hours at the rate of $2.00 per hour! They are leading the way for Employers across the Country. 

Washington State UFCW and Teamster Local Unions reach understanding with Safeway/Albertsons to better support and protect Grocery Store Workers and Community

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This weekend, UFCW 21, 367, 1439 and Teamsters 38 reached an understanding with Safeway/Albertsons to better support and protect grocery store workers and shoppers in this time of need due to the Coronavirus.

This resolution includes:

  • More flexibility for schedules to accommodate childcare.

  • Joint hiring hall to allow for more workers to get work in the stores.

  • Up to two-weeks of pay for workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or workers required to self-quarantine, before needing to access sick leave and other contractual paid leave.

  • Agreed to jointly work with State and Federal government to treat Grocery Store Workers as first responders and set up a childcare fund for Grocery Store Workers.

  • Expanded use of paid sick leave to cover childcare needs.

  • Agreed to further discussions of ways to meet workers’ childcare needs.

  • Ensure workers do not lose eligibility for medical coverage or lose vacation accrual while out on sick leave.

  • Temporarily allow the employer to bring in extra outside help to make sure we are able to serve our communities during this crisis—provided bargaining unit employees are offered hours first, including overtime.

  • As always, any work done in the meat cutter classification will only be performed by individuals qualified and licensed (where necessary) to perform such work.

If you have questions, please contact your Rep

Washington State UFCW and Teamster Local Unions reach understanding with Fred Meyer/QFC to better support and protect Grocery Store Workers and Community

Yesterday, UFCW
21, 367, 1439 and Teamsters 38 reached an understanding with Fred Meyer/QFC to
better support and protect grocery store workers and shoppers in this time of
need due to the Coronavirus.

This understanding includes:


  • - More flexibility for schedules to accommodate childcare.

  • - Joint hiring hall to allow for more workers to get work in the
    stores.

  • - Up to two-weeks of pay for workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or
    workers required to self-quarantine, before needing to access sick leave and
    other contractual paid leave.

  • - Agreed to jointly work with State and Federal government to
    treat Grocery Store Workers as first responders and set up a childcare fund for
    Grocery Store Workers.

  • - Expanded use of paid sick leave to cover childcare needs.

  • - Ensure workers do not lose eligibility for medical coverage or
    lose vacation accrual while out on sick leave.

  • - Temporarily allow the employer to bring in extra outside help
    to make sure we are able to serve our communities during this crisis—provided
    bargaining unit employees are offered hours first, including overtime.

  • - As always, any work done in the meat cutter classification
    will only be performed by individuals qualified and licensed (where necessary)
    to perform such work.

In addition to the terms of this understanding, Kroger has expanded its Helping Hands benefit to include hardships caused to employees by the Coronavirus pandemic.




Page Last Updated: May 21, 2020 (16:29:50)
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