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McLaughlin to members: Stay vigilant as states reopen

In a telephonic town hall on May 20, UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin called on union members to remain vigilant as Arizona, New Mexico and Utah begin to relax their guidelines in response to the COVOD-19 pandemic.

President McLaughlin also provided updates on a range of issues concerning members, including abusive behaviors by customers; resources to alleviate stress and anxiety; hazard bonuses and appreciation pay; and the dangers of misinformation spread on social media.

‘Be aware out there’

Noting that “we’re now 11 weeks into the national emergency guidelines and the atmosphere in the stores is still a whirlwind and changing sometimes daily,” McLaughlin cautioned members to “be aware out there!”

He said with Arizona taking steps to reopen its economy, workers in stores must continue to be vigilant to avoid a spike in new cases of COVID-19.

“Our need to be diligent is critical to mitigate frustrations and keep ourselves and our customers safe,” McLaughlin said.

He urged members to use the wash stations and sanitizers and to continue wearing masks and using other personal protective equipment.

“Local 99 staff have been distributing masks and hand sanitizer,” he said. “We will hand them out until we have exhausted our supply. Please look for your rep in the store to see if they have any left.”

“In some stores we wish the plexiglass could be bigger, but we are still looking for solutions and asking the companies to make the stores more secure,” President McLaughlin said. “In the meantime, when a customer does not stand behind the glass, politely remind them it’s there – or move so you’re behind it.

“This is a new way of thinking for all of us, and especially for people who are only in the stores for a fraction of time that you’re in the stores,” he continued.

He said Local 99 representatives are handing out “#ESSENTIAL” buttons. “These buttons give a positive identification on the membership,” he continued. “Wear them to show we are united to protect you and the community.”

McLaughlin also announced Arizona will be extending its statewide COVID-19 testing blitz for two more weekends.

“Anyone who thinks that they have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19 can get tested based on the criteria at each location,” he said. “Drive-through testing will be available at certain sites.”

He urged members to visit https://www.azdhs.gov to learn about testing sites, hours of operation, pricing and registration.

‘Verbal abuse should not be tolerated’

“We know of the irate customers who are frustrated and choose to take their frustrations out on you for no reason,” McLaughlin said. “Or maybe it’s because they can’t find toilet paper or the store has run out of meat. One thing for certain is verbal abuse should not be tolerated.”

Whenever members encounter abuse by shoppers or anyone else, they should “let your manager know about it,” he said. “And if they don’t respond, call your union rep.”

McLaughlin also advised members not to take such confrontations by customers personally.

“It has nothing to do with you,” he said. “Some customers have lost their jobs or are on furlough and some have had it up to the limit at home.”

Nevertheless, “We are having regular discussions with the company around safety for our members in the stores,” he said. “These incidents should be taken seriously.”

Countering stress and anxiety

Noting that stress and anxiety can take a physical and a mental toll on union members, President McLaughlin described resources available through Local 99’s Employee Membership Assistance Program and HMC.

“We have telephonic medicine with Teladoc, as well as many different resources to help with issues relating to anxiety, depression and the many other effects this pandemic has on ourselves and our families,” he said.

He encouraged union members to visit ufcw99.com and click on the links to resources.

Hazard bonuses and appreciation pay

President McLaughlin provided an update on how Fry’s and Safeway are rewarding their employees for their courageous service throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Safeway is continuing its $2 per hour premium through the end of May, he said. Fry’s is paying a bonus of $200-$400 split between two payments. The bonuses some members will receive almost equate to a $2 per hour raise.

“If you have any questions, see your rep,” he said.

“We don’t know how long the pay will last, but we will push your companies to pay this as long as we can,” McLaughlin said. “The hazard is still out there, and pay should go with it. It’s important that you are compensated accordingly.”

Handling social media with care

President McLaughlin called on Local 99 members to refrain from criticizing their employers on social media.

“People are saying how terrible their company or their manager is,” he said. “Unfortunately, the companies monitor such posts. Don’t get yourself into trouble because you need to vent on social media.

“Everybody is watching — your friends, your family and management. Be aware of what you share.”

Industry negotiations

Responding to a question about upcoming negotiations, McLaughlin said talks with Fry’s and Safeway will begin late in the summer. Local 99 will prepare by communicating with members through additional telephonic town halls, as well as voice and email blasts, text messages, social media posts, website updates, the 99Report magazine, postcards and other publications.

Union representatives will be in the stores for face-to-face conversations and questionnaires will be sent to the members to ascertain their goals in the negotiations.

“We are in unprecedented times,” he said. “Never in our history have we seen a situation like this. It’s hard to know how these new challenges will play a role in negotiations, but they will.

“One thing we do know is this pandemic has shown how critical our members are to each of the communities we serve.”

Questions and answers

The town hall continued with Secretary-Treasurer Stan Chavira fielding questions from the membership.

“The companies hired a bunch of new people and now that things are slowing down, they are starting to cut hours,” he said. “Some of the new hires are getting more hours than a senior employee. Senior members have protections with scheduling and seniority. Call your rep to fix any situation in the store dealing with seniority rights.

“There are new faces in the stores, which is great, but we just need to protect everybody, and we will defend seniority rights and select a schedule. It’s in your contract and your union rep can help with that.”

Conclusion: ‘You are not alone’

“Just because things may seem to be getting less restrictive, we need to stay the course,” President McLaughlin said in his concluding comments.

“Now is not the time to let our guards down. Our members must be even more vigilant as restrictions relax and customers come into the stores more frequently.

“We must continue to wash our hands, to wear masks or face coverings and continue social distancing.”

“I am more and more proud of the members of this union with every passing day,” he said.

“Always know you are not alone. You have thousands and thousands of union sisters and brothers and we are in this together — always.

“We continue to thank you for your courage, and we applaud your sacrifice.

“Remember: Not all heroes wear capes-some wear aprons.

“Thank you for your hard work and commitment!”

UFCW Local 99 Summary of Member Telephone Town Hall Tuesday, April 28, 2020 

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Earlier this week, we held our third Telephone Town Hall. For those of you who were able to join us, you may find this summary helpful and for those of you who couldn’t join us, here is what we discussed.

Tuesday was Workers Memorial Day. We paid tribute to workers across the country, across every trade, who have lost their lives or been injured on the job.

It is particularly poignant this year as we mourn thet more than 30 members in our UFCW International Union family who we have lost as well as hundreds of members who are struggling to recover from COVID-19. In particular, we mourn the loss of one of our members, a steward who passed away a few weeks ago and the dozens of Local 99 members who are dealing with Covid-19 now.

The last eight weeks have been a whirlwind; no one could have predicted we would be where we are today.

We’ve had to follow a moving target from stocking the ever-elusive toilet paper to securing and wearing personal protection equipment and supplying sanitizer. We worked with the companies to install washing stations at the front end of most stores, plexiglass barriers in the check stands and we now practice social distancing of six feet.

One benefit that has come out of all this is the widespread recognition of you, our members.

Day in and day out you serve the public, put product on the shelves and food in the stores. Day in and day out you go into work and make sure the essentials are available to help our customers. Some days shrugging off your own personal safety.

I am more and more proud of the members of this union with every passing day

In an editorial I penned for the Arizona Republic, published last week, I referred to you, the people I call “Our accidental heroes…”

These heroes’ courage, work ethic and commitment to the customers is inspiring

There’s no way to sugar-coat reality, though. It’s scary to watch the numbers of those getting sick and succumbing to the virus increase.

At this point, it’s likely we have all been touched by someone who has taken ill, or worse, has passed away, as a result of this deadly virus.

It is hard on us and our families; the stress and anxiety can take a physical and a mental toll.

For those of you who weren’t on previous calls, we went into quite a bit of detail about the resources available to the members for telephonic medicine, with Teladoc, as well as many different resources to help with issues relating to anxiety, depression and the many other effects this pandemic has on ourselves and our families.

Even if we are the lucky ones and test negative, it’s ok to feel scared and anxious about the current situation and about the future.

Always know you are not alone. You have thousands and thousands of union sisters and brothers and we are all in this together. Your union and your union rep are just a click, a text or a phone call away.

If you are concerned, scared or have a question, pick up the phone so we can help you.

That’s our role in this union. We are here for our members on and off the job every step of the way.

There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, so we are focusing on our next steps.

We are in regular contact with the companies under contract with Local 99, with the health departments across our state as well as with the Governor’s office and the state legislators and our representatives in Congress and our US Senator.

At some point, Arizona will slowly begin to re-open and loosen restrictions.

When this happens, it’s important not to let your guard down.

Just because guidelines may seem less restrictive, stay the course, at least for a while.

Our members must be even more vigilant as restrictions are relaxed and customers come into the stores more frequently.

We must continue to wash our hands, to wear masks and to continue honoring social distancing.

• Make sure you are washing your hands as much as possible and using hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands.

If you need more hand sanitizer, let your union rep know.

We’ve distributed sanitizer in the stores, and more is on the way.  It’s like mining for gold to find it, but we are finding it and will get more out in the stores as soon as we can.

• Wear your mask at work. It’s company policy now and part of your uniform.

If a person who has COVID-19 wears a mask and YOU wear a mask – you are 98% protected.

Another way to look at it …

    • If a COVID carrier is near you and only you have a mask on, you are 30% protected from catching the virus from an infected person.
    • If a COVID carrier is wearing a mask and you are not, you are 95% protected from catching the virus. But who knows if the person near you is a carrier?
    • However, if a COVID carrier is wearing a mask AND YOU are wearing the mask, you have less than a 2% probability of catching the virus. If everyone is wearing a mask, you are 98% Protected.

We know they may be uncomfortable. The companies have indicated you can bring and wear your own masks, if you prefer.

It’s important to wear face coverings whether they be medical masks, masks made at home, or even bandanas … It’s all about being as safe as we possibly can.

• Practice social distancing

Don’t host or go to a BBQ right now. Avoid crowds.

Stay six feet apart from each other, which is approximately the length of two grocery carts, and be aware of the markings on the floor.

Keep the circle of people you are close to small, in order to protect our communities.

It’s not the time to let our guard down. We must safeguard those who need to be protected: our elderly, our sick, our immune-compromised population.

 

Secretary-Treasurer Stan Chavira Shares Member Questions / President McLaughlin answers:

There have been lots of specific questions which are best answered by individual reps. We can’t emphasize it enough: call your union rep with questions.

Don’t just guess or rely on an outside source for information. Don’t neglect to ask a question that is crucial to you as an individual. Get the answers from your union rep.

Q: A MEMBER IS ON FURLOUGH AND DOESN’T WANT TO BURN HIS VACATION. DOES HIS MEDICAL STAY INTACT IF HE TAKES FURLOUGH?

Nothing has changed on eligibility for health and welfare. As long as working 80 hours/100 hours per month. If you are on medical leave you are eligible for waivers or FMLA coverage, nothing has changed. We urge you to get in touch with your rep for specifics.

CAN I WEAR A BETTER QUALITY MASK THAN THE ONE THE COMPANY IS PROVIDING?

You can bring masks from home. We’ve worked this out with your company. It’s important we all wear face coverings to protect ourselves and those around us. Masks should not be “outrageous” and must conform to company dress policy.

WILL I BE ABLE TO BE TESTED?

Testing is available through doctor’s offices; some of the restrictions and requirements for testing are being relaxed and more tests are being made available.

SELF CHECKOUT IS NOT SAFE. WHAT’S BEING DONE?

We’ve brought this up with the companies, the need to make the self-checkout area safer. We’ve suggested plexiglass screens in the self-checkout area, and it is a constant point of conversation to try to find a solution. It’s not a place where our members can just stand and not move around. It’s difficult to find a solution, but I was at a Lowe’s store and they had a rolling cart with plexiglass screen.  Six weeks ago, I didn’t imagine plexiglass in front of our registers and look around today. It’s evident that this situation is fluid and we’re constantly searching for ideas to make the workplace safer.

I HAVE NOT GOTTEN MY $2 PAY INCREASE, WAS I OVERLOOKED? THIS INCREASE ENDS MAY 1?

As of today, the increase is scheduled to end May 2, but we’re in constant contact to continue that increase as long as we can. If you haven’t gotten your pay increase and you are eligible, call your rep to get that corrected.

EMPLOYEES AT A NUMBER OF STORES DON’T THINK COMPANIES ARE DOING ENOUGH TO REGULATE HOW MANY CUSTOMERS ARE ALLOWED TO SHOP. FAMILIES AND GROUPS COMING IN AT ONE TIME IS A CONCERN AS WELL.

We are working with the companies to get to a number that is manageable and provide for the safety of our members and our customers.

IF AN EMPLOYEE TESTS POSITIVE IN THE STORE, OTHER EMPLOYEES FEEL STORE IS JUST TRYING TO KEEP THE CASE QUIET AND NOT INFORMING EMPLOYEES WHO COULD HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT. ALSO, NOT PROVIDING RESOURCES FOR TESTING FOR THOSE THAT MAY HAVE BEEN EXPOSED FROM A CO-WORKER?

There are restrictions and privacy laws that are in effect to protect people’s health – We know people want to know if they’ve been exposed or not, that information may not be available unless the employee who has been affected shares it. – but you can keep up to date by talking to your rep.

Thank you to those members who emailed questions. This allows us to get critical information distributed quickly and efficiently.

For the questions regarding health and welfare, pensions, leaves of absences and others requiring individual answers, we urge you to contact your union rep.

We’re here to help you every step of the way. We are your resource and are working to protect you and your families. You are my number one priority.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. And remember, we are better when we work together. We will get through this because we WILL work together.

Summary of UFCW Local 99 Telephone Town Hall with Membership

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

President Jim McLaughlin led a telephone town hall in which Local 99 members heard updates on how the union and employers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Voicing his concern about the stresses endured by workers and their families, President McLaughlin described a wide range of mental health benefits that are available to the members.

“We’re about a month into this crisis and it seems like it could have been 10 years,” he said.

“We’re in a critical stage in the battle against COVID-19,” he continued. “Some of us already know people who have taken ill or even died.”

Noting that Local 99 lost a shop steward to the disease, he added: “Knowing someone in our union family who we lost to this virus makes it that much more difficult.”

‘Inspired by your remarkable bravery’

“I want to let you know how much I am personally inspired by your remarkable bravery and dedication during this emergency,” President McLaughlin said. “This is like nothing we have experienced in our lifetimes, but you are responding as true professionals in the critical industries we serve, across the board in our industries we serve.

“The work you are doing and putting your personal health and safety on the line so that others can take care of themselves and their families is tremendous.

“For that and more, you have my profound respect and appreciation,” he continued. “And you can be sure you have the respect and appreciation of the public at large. You can see it everywhere.”

Addressing the stress

Addressing the stresses being felt by members, he said:

“All of us are affected in one way or another. At home, our families endure boredom and isolation from friends and family we cherish — especially now, going into Easter weekend and Passover.

“While our families endure boredom, at work we endure the extreme opposite — stress that goes well beyond the anxieties we customarily experience on the job:

“We have shoppers in panic.”

“We have shoppers who strip the shelves bare faster than you can fill them.”

“We have shoppers who are rude and disrespectful.”

“We have shoppers who stand too close.”

“We also have shoppers who appreciate what we are doing and need us. We have always taken care of them and they need us to continue”

“In some cases, we lack personal protective equipment and other safety features — masks, gloves, disinfectants and barriers at check stands and other crucial points inside the store.

“Wherever we are — at home, at work and traveling in between — we worry:

  • What happens if I get sick? If a family member gets sick?
  • Who will look after my children when I’m at work? There are daycare issues across our membership.
  • How can I handle living with others, including family members or roommates, in close quarters for such long periods of time?
  • How can I deal with conflicts that inevitably arise with management and coworkers in this time of crisis and stress we’re all dealing with
  • Where can I get help with issues such as alcohol or drug addiction, marital and parenting issues, financial problems and more when my usual support systems are unavailable?

“These are things our members are struggling with everywhere, McLaughlin said. “The crisis we’re all experiencing can lead to depression, stress, anger and more.”

To answer that crisis, he said, “Our partner, HMC Healthworks, has put together a package in email form that includes videos, audio recordings to listen to in the car, and ways to contact HMC through telemedicine. This is help for you or any family member or children who are dependents.”

Check the website

McLaughlin reminded members participating in the telephone call about the wealth of information on the union’s website, UFCW99.com, as well as the union’s social media outlets.

“There you will find current information from reliable sources on how to protect yourself, your loved ones and others you encounter from the virus that causes COVID-19,” he said. “On our website you will also find links to resources provided by our union and government agencies.”

He said that Teladoc received a huge surge of members who were signing up online and getting involved, “and the people at Teladoc were overwhelmed.”

“Teladoc has assured us that a lot of that has been handled and response much quicker now,” McLaughlin said.

Questions and answers

Secretary-Treasurer Stan Chavira read a few questions the union frequently hears from members. President McLaughlin provided the answers.

What departments are getting the protective shields and why are they so small? They don’t really protect us at all.

We know the front end is getting shields up in most stores and pharmacies, and we are aware they are coming to Starbucks, too. We had hopes they would be bigger, but realistically the purpose of the shield is to give our members room to step back behind and have some protection that otherwise wouldn’t be there. We hope this is a short-term fix and there will be better long-term solutions.

Why is my company giving $2 appreciation pay and then cutting hours to seasoned workers and hiring new employees?

We’ve been talking to the companies about rewarding our members for this additional work on the front lines. Cutting hours hasn’t happened much, that we know of. For the most part, our members are working at least what they were a month ago and most likely more than that. Hiring additional employees is by design to help our members who are overwhelmed in the stores. Some members are working seven days a week, 60 hours in a week still. We would like to remind everyone that you have the ability to maximize your hours with the protection of the union contract.

Companies have offered to pay appreciation pay only until April 18. Why not to the end of April?

We are all having additional conversations about the appreciation pay. No one knows how long this crisis will last. Fry’s just started with the $2 premium pay and Safeway extended the date. We hope the other employers will extend as we progress through this crisis.

When will stores get masks and gloves? What about hand sanitizers?

The companies have assured us that they are coming. Stores are allowing us to wear our own personal masks and gloves while we work. Health care workers are getting the first available masks, but companies have assured us they will have supplies in their stores soon, as well as hand sanitizer. If not, let the store manager know and your union rep know. We are keeping track of that. Local 99 was able to procure a small number of masks and sanitizer and we hope to get that out to the stores next week. The masks we have are not medical grade, they’re cotton masks, but they will be out there to help with safety and we plan to get them to as many people as possible.

Do I have to get tested and test positive for COVID-19 in order to get paid for sick pay?

This depends on the company you work for. Safeway needs to have you tested or have your doctor take you off work. Fry’s policy is different. The bottom line is you need a doctor to take you off work to get sick pay. If you go off work on your own because you don’t feel safe or you feel the need to self-quarantine, both companies have been willing to make exceptions by using vacation time and other options. This is a great question for your union reps because they will know your personal situation and the company policy. I strongly urge you to give your rep a call.

Our stores need to limit customers. Will they close on Sunday?

These discussions you are having with reps and managers I’m also having with your companies. We are working with them to limit customers in the stores. It’s a great tool to help social distancing and have a safe workplace. No one expected this to happen and these concepts are things that haven’t been considered before. The shopping patterns have changed. Now the hours of 7-10 a.m. are swamped and later in afternoon some stores are a ghost town. With limiting customers and changing store hours, the end result will be better for all of us when people get more secure with product on shelves and return to more sensible shopping.

I heard an employee at my store tested positive. What do I do?

Talk to your store manager. If they hear something, they will alert you. If you believe you’ve been exposed, contact your physician and keep your store manager in the know. It’s critical that you include your store manager and doctor. Kroger announced they are checking employees and some have started checking vendors by taking temperatures. I’ve heard Safeway is taking temperatures of employees and vendors. I think we’ll see a lot more of that.

Number one rule in this: Don’t go to work sick. It’s that simple.

Conclusion

President McLaughlin concluded the call with a discussion of the federal stimulus package that was enacted last week. “We have been talking about the next stimulus package, which needs to include care for our members for the longer term after this is over,” he said. “We are working with congressional representatives so they understand what our priorities are and what the priorities of our members are.”

McLaughlin said he will lead another teleconference soon.

“In the meantime, if you have any questions or need assistance with the issues we discussed — or anything else relating to your jobs or your physical or mental health — please contact your union representative or call the union office,” he said. “Look for emails from your union and from HMC.

“While our physical offices are closed to walk-in requests, we are hard at work around the clock to serve you. All it takes is a phone call, an email, a text message or a visit to our website, UFCW99.com.

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

At the end of the call, members were asked to leave a voicemail with any specific questions they have. Their union representatives will contact them with answers over next day or so.

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.

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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.