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Teamsters concerned about UPS response to COVID-19 pandemic

By Emily Butt |
March 24, 2020
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Lansing, MI - In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, UPS Teamsters are concerned about the lack of safety precautions taken by the company. While UPS workers were deemed essential workers, there has been little to no effort on the part of UPS to make the workplace safe from the virus. There has been no scale-back of operations to only essential or critical packages, there have been no additional jobs created for cleaning and sanitizing work spaces, and any efforts to supply the work force with cleaning and hygiene supplies has been at the discretion of local managers and supervisors on a case-by-case basis.

The company has provided narrowly defined paid sick leave, but for workers who don’t qualify, the one-punch rule forces them to go to work despite the risk it poses to themselves and their communities. The one-punch rule requires workers to punch in at least one day per week or else lose their health coverage for that week.

Teamsters are responding by organizing petitions online to try and pressure the company into taking measures that protect workers and the communities they deliver to. For example, Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) has a petition demanding that UPS follow CDC guidelines. Another petition demands hazard pay for workers during the pandemic. Teamsters Joint Council 10, New England, has sent a letter of demands to Congress pressing for funds for workers who are laid off and health coverage while they are out of work. So far, Teamsters have won the following concessions from UPS:

-- 2 weeks of paid time off if diagnosed with COVID-19, or if quarantined due to travel or family member illness.
-- Health and Welfare and Pension contributions for this time.
-- Repopulation of paid time off for workers who elect to self-quarantine, if they are later diagnosed.
-- Days missed for employees impacted by the virus will not count toward attendance infractions.
-- Not requiring signatures during delivery to minimize contact between drivers and the public.

However, these wins are not enough. Our immediate demands are: hazard pay for essential workers who are put to work during the pandemic; thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the workplace and equipment; masks, gloves, sanitizer and bottles of water provided for all employees, as well conditions which allow inside workers to maintain six to ten feet of distance from each other.

Workers are assuming all the physical risk of keeping society functioning, and no worker should have to foot the bill through this unprecedented national crisis.

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