Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy met with members yesterday morning to talk about the rollout of a new safety screening process at Safeway.
With the COVID-19 crisis, Teamsters in the grocery industry are putting in long hours with few days off to keep our store shelves stocked with food and supplies.
Like so many others at Local 117, members at the Fred Meyer distribution center in Puyallup and the Safeway warehouse in Auburn understand the magnitude of the crisis and are doing everything they can to help.
"We have to feed America," said Chris Williams, a Shop Steward and 21-year member at Safeway. "Without food coming and going out of here, a lot of people would be at lost ends. People are trying to stock up, whether it's at a food bank or a local grocery store. If we didn't have our guys to supply them, people wouldn't have the disinfectants, toiletries, and food they need."
Shop Steward Chris Williams is part of the essential workforce that is keeping our grocery shelves stocked.
After some prodding, both Safeway and Kroger have stepped up and are paying members like Chris an additional $2/hr in appreciation pay. We've also recommended that the companies implement a new screening process as a way to keep workers safe.
“Union Representatives Lance Asher and Anthony McKinney, working with our outstanding Shop Stewards in this industry, have risen to the occasion,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. “By working together, we have made meaningful recommendations and proposals with a collective focus on the safety and security of our members.”
Both Scearcy and Asher were on hand early yesterday morning to monitor the rollout of screening for our members at Safeway on their way in to work.
Lining up at a popup tent, members were asked a series of questions about their health before entering the facility. Anyone suspected of possible COVID-19 exposure or infection is sent home and put on paid administrative leave.
"I'm glad to see the company putting in place safety measures for our members," Scearcy said. "This is an important way to help prevent infection in a workforce that is essential to keeping food on our grocery store shelves. We're hopeful employers in other essential industries will follow suit."
"We're hopeful employers in other essential industries will follow suit."
Yesterday the screening line at Safeway moved quickly, and members responded favorably to the new program.
"I wish they had started this a little earlier," Williams said. "But now that they're doing it, I feel relieved and appreciative."
Jarrell Lewis, a 20-year Teamster at Safeway, agreed. "I woke up early and was looking forward to it," he said. "People have families at home, and we've got to make sure they are taken care of. Nowadays, everybody's got to have something in the kitchen. I take pride in what we do."