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Coronavirus

Summary of UFCW Local 99 Telephone Town Hall with Membership

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Last night we held a telephone town hall where members had the opportunity to call in to hear President McLaughlin’s latest updates on how the COVID-19 virus is affecting our workplaces and our lives in general.

We are grateful so many members were able to call in. We communicated an enormous amount of information, so for those of you who were on the call, and for those of you who weren’t able to call, here is a summary of the topics we covered:

    • First, we are enormously proud of the work our members are doing in the stores. Your courage is commendable and we appreciate the personal sacrifices you are making.
    • Many of our union sisters and brothers in other industries aren’t as fortunate as most of our UFCW members in terms of having work, from those in IATSE to UNITE HERE and many others including some of our own. We urge those who have been laid off or have suffered a reduction in hours to contact union employers who are hiring right now.
    • We know these are probably the most stressful conditions you’ve ever experienced personally and professionally. We are working around the clock to do what we can to advocate for our members.
    • We are helping our communities maintain a sense of normalcy in these crazy times to help avoid a sense of panic.
  • Your union is here for you; you’re always our #1 priority, especially now.
  • It’s likely there will be a lot more questions than answers, so we ask for everyone’s patience in this unprecedented time.
  • Procedures and reactions to the virus are changing daily and solutions are fluid for everyone at all levels: your union, your companies, our state and the federal government.
  • There is no “one size fits all” approach to this crisis and we are handling each member’s question on a case by case basis;
  • So many people are affected by this… not only food workers. For example, our members at Precept Medical Products in Douglas, AZ, which is making personal protection equipment for hospitals as well as members at the Copper Queen Hospital in Southern Arizona.
  • Our efforts, politically, in the community and with the union companies, are not only on behalf of UFCW members; our voice is being heard on behalf of all workers throughout AZ and the country.
  • Your union office building is not open to the public but, staff and reps are working almost around the clock at your service. We urge you to call the office or your union rep with any questions you may have.
  • Individual face-to-face appointments can be arranged, when necessary.
  • The safety of our members is an ongoing concern and is constantly monitored.
    • Local 99 is in near daily contact with the supermarket companies and is also coordinating efforts with the UFCW International Union, which is dealing with this crisis across North America, to take the necessary steps to protect members on the front lines.
    • Some of the new policies include:
      • Increased “appreciation pay” for hourly employees; we have heard from a few members that they are not pleased with what the companies have offered. Be assured we are working with the companies, nationally and locally, to arrive at an improved, long-term solution;
      • Use of protective gear including masks and gloves;
      • Proposing ending the use of reusable bags;
      • Proposing restricting customers from bringing product from one part of a store to other areas within a store. For example, restricting bringing meat from the case to a meat cutter to further handle;
      • Implementation of new hours and regulations to enforce social distancing
      • Access to hand-washing stations and the ability to wash and sanitize more frequently while at work;
      • Workers are regularly reminded to carefully follow the precautions set forth by the CDC.
  • Local 99 is working with the companies to be sure any member who is affected by this virus, either through illness or quarantine, will receive pay, in addition to other sick leave benefits earned under the union contract.
  • There are differences in each company’s policies so members should contact their union reps to discuss specific circumstances as they arise.
  • Local 99 members have the best health care plans in the retail industry and access to some of the best doctors in Arizona.
  • In the cases of employees who are at high risk and do not feel they should work in the stores at this time, many union employers have agreed to permit these workers to go on leave. Members may be able to use unused vacation time earned under the contract.
  • Last week, the governor announced he is mobilizing efforts to help with all of the extra work in our industries as a result of the crisis. It is not expected for the National Guard to be working side-by-side with members in our stores.
  • Many union companies are hiring and we encourage anyone who wants to work to apply.
  • Retirees have also asked if they can return to work in our industry and we are working with companies to address this issue and will get in touch with Retirees if the restrictions are modified.
  • Yesterday, the governor classified grocery workers as essential personnel. We are in discussions with elected officials in the legislature to classify retail food workers as first responders for even more benefits for workers in these challenging times.
  • Local 99 is in touch with the members using all forms of communication, from postings on the web site and social media to printed material mailed to the homes for families’ education, as well as individual contacts by phone, text and email.
  • You probably already know the what to do to avoid the contracting and spreading the virus and what symptoms to watch out for. To summarize, they are:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after touching surfaces in public areas, and especially if you are around someone who isn’t feeling well. Also, clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects;
    • Avoid contact with anyone known to be sick;
    • These are the typical symptoms of the virus:
      • Dry cough, fever, shortness of breath;
    • If you are sick, please do not go to work. Stay at home.
    • If you suspect that you might have been infected and require medical attention, you have options.
      • First, if you cannot breathe or if you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
      • You can also get medical advice from your home on the telephone by contacting Teladoc.
      • Lastly, you can contact your medical provider.

 

What is Teladoc?

  • Teladoc is a fast and easy way to connect with a health professional. It can replace an in-person office visit for most cases.
    • If you are covered under the plan, it is a resource for members and their families without further burdening the health care system.
    • Even if you are healthy, we encourage all of members to create an account so, in the event you might need it, you will have access to a licensed AZ doctor to assess your condition, answer questions about virus testing and address any other medical issues that may be of concern.
  • If you or a family member feels some of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, Teladoc can help address those concerns with a health professional who might advise you to get tested.
  • Please click on this link to Local 99’s web site com/Teladoc and follow our link to step-by-step instructions to create an account.
  • You can also download the Teladoc App on your smartphone.
  • If contacting Teladoc becomes necessary, we urge you to be patient as there may be a longer than normal wait for a consultation with a medical professional.

Even with the most general of answers, each member has specific needs and circumstances, so we urge you to contact your union rep and/or store manager to address the specifics of the situation.

Here are some answers to some of many questions we’ve received.

  1. I am concerned about my exposure to the public at work because I am over 60 or because I live with someone over 60 and/or I am immunocompromised. What are my options?
    At this time, you may be eligible for a leave of absence per the guidelines outlined in the CBA.  Proper documents still will be required to qualify for a leave. If you have concerns, you should consult first with your union representative, health care provider and store manager.
  1. Will I receive replacement pay if I am diagnosed with COVID-19, ordered by a health care provider to self-quarantine or sent home due to symptoms I am experiencing?
    We have been in constant contact with the employers and will continue to monitor the ongoing changes.  You will likely be eligible for pay. You should, however, contact your union representative, as they can review the specifics between the policies and give the best information for you.

    We expect to have more guidance about these and other stimulus actions being taken by the Federal government once the Senate passes a worker aid bill.

  1. I am concerned about my exposure to the public while I am still working, what is my company doing to provide time to wash hands and protective supplies such as gloves, masks and sanitizer?
    I have been notified that both Safeway and Fry’s are in the process of installing plexiglass barriers at the cash registers. They have both lifted restrictions allowing employees to wear masks while working, if that makes a member more comfortable, with the understanding that masks and gloves aren’t guaranteed by the CDC to protect against infection. Also, masks and gloves are in short supply and being prioritized for those working in health care. Companies will provide them if they’re able to but, at the moment, they are still in short supply.
  1. What if I am unable to return after 2 weeks? Will I still receive pay?
    Members who are on COVID-19 leave should contact their union representative or their store managers if more time is needed. You will need to keep proper health care provider documents updated with the company.
  1. What if the transportation systems are shut down and I am unable to get to work or arrive on time? What will happen?
    There are many issues that may arise. Right now we are not anticipating a disruption in the transportation system. However, if one occurs, we urge you to contact your union representative and store manager to discuss the problem.
  2. I have respiratory problems. What if I decide not to return to work because I’m sick?
    Contact your union rep and your health care provider and communicate their concerns with your store manager. Within 24 hours you will receive an email summarizing what we discussed in this call and it will include a number of links and resources that will help ease the anxiety and challenges we’re faced with. Please save the email as a resource for the future as well.

***

Throughout history, events like these have brought out the best in people. We urge you to:

  • Look out for one another.
  • Please don’t listen to or spread rumors.
  • Even though you’re working under tremendous pressure, it’s critical to protect your contract for tomorrow.
  • In crises, it’s tempting to put others first, but don’t put the company first now; take your breaks, take your lunches and use the contract to protect yourself and your family.
  • Don’t give up the protections we’ve fought so hard for so many decades.

We’re here to help you every step of the way. Call your union!

Stay safe. Stay healthy. And remember, we are better when we work together.

We will get through this because we WILL work together.

Teladoc is here for you

Information for dealing with Coronavirus with Teladoc

Teladoc is a fast and easy way to connect with a health professional. It can replace an in-person office visit for most cases.

  • If you are covered under the plan, it is a resource for members and their families without further burdening the health care system.
  • If you or a family member feels some of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, Teladoc can help address those concerns with a health professional who might advise you to get tested.
  • Even if you are healthy, we encourage all members to create an account so, in the event you might need it, you will have access to a licensed AZ doctor to assess your condition, answer questions about virus testing and address any other medical issues of concern.
  • If contacting Teladoc becomes necessary, we urge you to be patient, as there may be a longer than normal wait for a consultation with a medical professional.

Ways to connect to Teledoc:

Logging in if you DO have a Teladoc account

Logging in if you DON’T have a Teladoc account

  • Go to member.teladoc.com and click on the “Get Started” blue button on the right on a computer.
  • Visit Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store and search for “Teladoc”
  • If you are unsure, call (800) TEL-ADOC for more assistance.
  • Read the FAQ page at: https://www.teladoc.com/contact-us/#faqs
  • Complete a brief medical history BEFORE OUR FIRST VISIT.

What is Teladoc

  • Teladoc is a fast and easy way to connect with a health professional. It can replace an in-person office visit for most cases.
  • If you feel some of the symptoms associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, Teladoc can help you address those concerns with a health professional who might advise you to get tested.

How will members be treated?

  • Teladoc Health care providers are evaluating symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, shortness of breath) and contact history (e.g. known exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID‐19, recent travel or living in an area with an active outbreak, healthcare worker who may have increased risk of exposure) to assess COVID‐19 risk.
  • If the doctor gathers information that suggests risk of COVID‐19, we will help guide patients to the next step for care and testing as follows. In accordance with evolving local guidance, we will contact the appropriate public health department.
  • If the doctor observes symptoms and risk factors that suggest COVID‐19, s/he now has the ability to add a notation to the “excuse note” advising the patient to self‐quarantine for 14 days.
  • Healthy patients will not be re-evaluated.

Increased Wait Times

  • People are experiencing longer than usual wait times – both at in‐person care sites in their communities and in virtual care settings – and we expect that healthcare needs will continue to escalate.
  • They have updated phone, web, and App messaging to transparently share that we are experiencing high call volumes and provide useful information about COVID‐19 while they wait.
  • After a visit request is initiated, members are encouraged to be available and ready to promptly answer our callbacks, calls are cancelled after 2 unanswered callback attempts by a doctor.

What You Need to Know about Coronavirus

Coronavirus FAQ

UFCW calls for action to protect workers and address economic impact of coronavirus

Your union is deeply concerned about securing the health and economic welfare of our members, their families and their communities.

To this end, we are working with your employers to help ensure you can protect yourself and your customers during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Please see the image below for information from HMCHealthWorks.

Meanwhile, the UFCW International Union has called for immediate action by the White House and Congress to develop and implement policies to be sure that workers – salaried and hourly – do not have to choose between their health and making ends meet.

In a letter to elected leaders of both parties, UFCW International President Marc Perrone wrote:

“Nearly 80 million American workers – or 59 percent of the entire U.S. work force – are hourly employees who only get paid for the hours they work. As the financial impact of the coronavirus is felt across every community, these hardworking men and women are on the front lines.

“I am urging each of our nation’s elected leaders to develop immediate policies to ensure workers – salaried and hourly – do not have to choose between work and their health.

“These policies should not only protect workers against financial loss (from loss of hours or job loss), but should further ensure workers seek out immediate medical attention if they feel sick or believe they have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“Now, more than ever, it is time we all focus on what matters most – protecting our families, our communities and this nation.”

Top policy priorities for the UFCW include:

  • At least two weeks of paid sick leave for all workers
  • Extension of unemployment benefits for workers temporarily laid off or whose work hours have been disrupted
  • Payroll tax cuts for all lower- and middle-income workers
  • Protection against unfair termination or discrimination for those suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus.

Union advantages

This rapidly evolving public health crisis underscores the advantages to all communities when workers have a union contract guaranteeing union-negotiated sick leave and comprehensive health care. among other major benefits. 

Please keep in touch with UFCW Local 99 for updates by visiting ufcw99.com, our Facebook page, reading our emails and all materials we send to you. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact your union representative.

In the meantime, please stay calm and take reasonable precautions to protect yourself and others in the community.

Three tips about the coronavirus

The coronavirus causes COVID-19, a respiratory illness that was first identified in China. It is highly contagious and includes symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath. The risk in the U.S. is currently low, but knowing how to protect yourself is key. Here are three tips:

    1. Keep it clean. Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after touching surfaces in public areas, and especially if you are around someone who isn’t feeling well. Also, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.
    2. Avoid contact with sick people. Avoid close contact with people who are sick and avoid traveling to locations where there are outbreaks of the coronavirus. And if you get sick, stay home to avoid spreading the virus to others.
    3. Contact your doctor or Teladoc. If you show early signs of illness — like a fever or a dry cough — you should contact your doctor’s office.Don’t necessarily head straight to the emergency room or urgent care, where you might infect others. There is no cure for coronavirus, but if you have symptoms of the virus, contact Teladoc and the doctors can evaluate your risk and help with next steps when necessary.