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."
We have some fantastic news to share for Teamsters at the DOC.
Our Union has secured emergency Paid Sick Leave and expanded Family Medical Leave for ALL Teamsters 117 corrections members in Washington State under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, federal legislation that takes effect today.
The federal legislation does not require all public employers to provide the emergency leave and expressly says that correctional institution personnel may be excluded. So for us to secure coverage under the new law for you and your family is a major win.
Over the last several days, we have worked hard to convince the Governor, the Office of Financial Management (OFM), and the Department that you should be covered under the new law.
This is an incredibly important win for you and your family. It helps recognize the critical health and safety work you are providing the community at this time of crisis.
With this benefit, comes shared responsibility. Your Union advocated vigorously for this benefit to be used if you are sick or facing a family crisis. Please use the emergency leave judiciously and in careful consideration of your DOC co-workers who are working tirelessly to keep all of us healthy and safe.
Below please find a brief summary of what you are entitled to under the law. For more detailed information, refer to the Department of Labor's informational flyer or OFM's website. If you need to utilize this leave, please contact your local Human Resources office with any questions.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
Emergency Family Medical Leave
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Teamster paratransit drivers at MV provide critical transportation services to our community.
So many Teamsters have risen to the occasion to serve our community during the COVID-19 crisis.
Our members in grocery, corrections, cold storage, law enforcement, solid waste, bakery, dairy, and many other industries are keeping the supply chain moving and making sure vital emergency services stay online.
From early on, Local 117 paratransit drivers who work for MV Transportation have been on the front lines in the fight against the virus through their work shuttling elderly and disabled passengers around our region.
Starting Thursday, 26 drivers began taking on an additional risk. They have volunteered to transport COVID-19-positive patients and those suspected of carrying the disease to and from area medical facilities.
Drivers are not required to interact with the COVID patients. That work is performed by caregivers and medical providers. Still, the danger of infection is real.
“We’re just trying to help people out,” said Helen Vivao, one of the drivers who volunteered for the work. "It's scary at first but after seeing these clients, it's a tear jerker. You don't know if it will be the last time you see them. But we're feeling like it's important that we're doing our part."
Helen and her co-workers are supplementing the first responder network and EMTs who are overrun with emergency transport during this national crisis.
"We’re just trying to help people out."
Up to thirty vehicles will be used for the program. The buses will be retrofitted with safety installations and must pass inspection by public health officials at King County. They will operate exclusively and separately out of MV’s old base in Kent, be sanitized after every run, and they will not be used to transport other MV passengers.
“The work of all of our members at MV is vital to serving our community and protecting the public health. The drivers volunteering for this role are going above and beyond,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “We will be closely monitoring safety conditions on these vehicles. It is incumbent on the County and the company to prioritize driver safety and to take every precaution to limit the spread of the disease.”
Teamster nurses at WCC - Melissa Johnson (l) and Patty Patterson (r) - are working overtime to keep COVID-19 out of the state prison system.
With the COVID-19 crisis, Teamsters inside our state prison system are making extraordinary efforts to keep our communities healthy and safe.
Upon entering the facilities, everyone – all DOC personnel and inmates – have to be screened for the disease. This puts an additional burden on staff who are already stretched thin.
“We’ve had to quarantine entire buses of inmates entering our prison,” says Patty Patterson, an RN3 at the Washington Correction Center (WCC) in Shelton.
“Our graveyard staff is decimated,” adds fellow nurse, Melissa Johnson. “Of 29 full-time nurses at our facility, 9 are out due to possible COVID exposure. That’s a huge hit.”
The shortage in nursing staff has come with an increased workload. Screening has to be administered to all inmates seeking medical assistance. At WCC, that’s between 50-100 inmates a day. Anyone exhibiting symptoms needs to be put in isolation.
Despite the challenges, medical staff are rising to the occasion. They're covering for each other, putting in lots of overtime and pulling double shifts.
“We want people to know we’re taking care of their family members,” Patterson said. “As stretched thin as we are, I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”
"I couldn’t be prouder of our team."
The coronavirus pandemic has made things tough on custody staff as well. Brandon Jennings, a Shop Steward at WCC, says he and his fellow officers are doing everything they can to enforce social distancing among the inmates, but it’s a daunting task.
Part of the problem is the constant influx of inmates coming in from the counties to the state system. This has led to crowded cells, with some inmates having to sleep on the floor. “We’re up to 356 inmates in our unit,” Jennings says. “That’s up from 240 at normal capacity.”
Corrections staff are used to dealing with health and security challenges. But keeping such a contagious virus out of the system has added a sense of urgency and a new layer of complexity.
"Our members are stepping up and doing an amazing job," said Michelle Woodrow, President of Teamsters 117. "They're dealing with outside stressors impacting their families - like not having access to daycare or their spouses getting laid off. At the same time, they're showing up to work, supporting each other, and approaching this crisis with the seriousness and professionalism needed to prevent the spread of this disease."
In short order, Teamsters at the DOC have implemented CDC guidelines and are administering a rigorous screening process to slow the spread of COVID-19 in an environment that has the potential to be a breeding ground for the virus.
"We're not taking anything for granted," Jennings says. "We're doing our best to keep the community safe."
Teamsters like Jeff Schellhase and Keith Wagner (photo) at the King County Public Health warehouse in Seattle are handling huge volumes of PPE inventory.
Jeff Schellhase has never been busier. He's been busting his tail, 11-12 hours a day, on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
At the King County Public Health warehouse where they work, Jeff and his Teamster co-workers house and haul medical supplies to pharmacies, healthcare and long-term care facilities. Since the coronavirus outbreak took hold in our region, the volume has been immense.
"Our work now is more important than ever."
"We're breaking down tons of PPE that has been shipped here and transporting it out as fast as we can," he says. "This includes masks, gloves, gowns - all of the protective gear needed to keep our caregivers safe."
Part of Jeff's job entails picking up COVID-19 lab work and running it over to the state lab for testing. As testing picks up, he'll be called on to do more.
All across the country, Teamsters like Jeff are stepping up to respond to this crisis. As essential personnel, they can't work from home, which puts them at a greater risk of infection.
"Our work now is more important than ever," Jeff says. "People are running out of PPE. They don't have gloves, they don't have masks, and they're having to wrap themselves up in garbage bags. We need to all work together to get them the supplies they need."
As you know, the Governor has issued a "Stay Home - Stay Healthy" order for Washingtonians due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
This does not apply to Teamsters at the DOC. All DOC staff have been deemed essential personnel by the State. As such, you are vitally important to the health and safety of our communities.
If you are in a classification that qualifies for Telework, please know that we are demanding that the Department expedite this process so you have the ability to work remotely as soon as possible.
For those of you who have been denied entry into a facility as a result of the active screening process, we are monitoring the secondary screening process to ensure that it is conducted in an appropriate way. The secondary screening is important. We need members to participate in the process so they can get back to work as soon as possible to provide relief for their co-workers.
To help you stay informed, here are a few important resources:
- COVID-19 Emergency Resource Guide
- Your rights under the WA State Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Our 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement
During this crisis, all of our Union Representatives are available by phone and email. If you have an issue or concern in the workplace, please reach out to them directly.
Because of drivers taking action and aggressive advocacy from your Union, we are one step closer to securing urgently needed emergency relief for Uber, Lyft, and Taxi drivers.
Yesterday afternoon, Governor Inslee announced:
- A statewide 30-day moratorium on residential evictions; and
- An effort to call on the White House and Congress to declare a disaster in Washington, authorizing Disaster Unemployment Assistance for Uber, Lyft, and Taxi drivers and others who may not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits.
We are one step closer to securing emergency relief. But, it’s not guaranteed. We have to fight so drivers don’t fall through the cracks.
Right now, I’m asking you to do three things:
- Call Congress at (202) 224-3121. Tell them “Provide Disaster Unemployment Assistance for Uber, Lyft, and Taxi drivers NOW!”
- Uber & Lyft Drifers: Apply for unemployment. Apply here (computer or laptop). Don’t give up if you receive an initial automated-rejection. Start filing weekly claims (even if you’ve been initially rejected), and be prepared to provide documentation of your hours of work and pay. You want your account to already be set up so there aren’t delays if funds become available. Click here to receive application instructions and information on free legal support.
- Get additional resources. Your Union has compiled this COVID-19 Emergency Resource Guide, including information on where to go for food assistance, what to do if you can’t pay your rent or mortgage, Teamsters job openings, and other resources.
We know this is a very stressful time for drivers. We will continue to fight for the support drivers need, and update you with the latest resources available.
The United Way of King County has provided a list of resources that you can access if you become unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Here's what they are saying:
Check out the full article and the 7 steps you can take to seek out benefits.
WHO'S HIRING - FIND A TEAMSTER JOB!
If you have been laid off or are facing layoff as a result of the coronavirus crisis and are looking for a job, there are several Teamster employers who are currently hiring:
- Darigold: Transportation and production openings, Class A required for transportation, apply here
- Auburn Dairy: Walk in to grab application, 702 W. Main St, Auburn, WA, 98001
- Republic Kent and Bellevue: Class B required, apply here
- Safeway: Hiring 50+ order selectors, 10+ drivers, send resume here
- King County: Hiring multiple positions (sort listings by date posted to get the most recent openings), apply here
- Dept of Corrections: Hiring multiple positions, apply here
- Law enforcement positions can be found here
- Swire Coca Cola: Hiring merchandiser, applicants will need to submit an online application on the Swire Coca Cola website and select the Bellevue location here
- Pepsi: Hiring merchandiser, apply here
- Lineage Seafreeze: Hiring utility position, apply here
- QCD: Hiring 3 drivers and 6 helpers, apply here
- USB Franz: Hiring 6 checkers and 1 truck driver, apply here
- UNFI: Hiring 4 drivers, apply here
- Schnitzer Steel: Hiring warehouse production, apply here
- Seattle Iron: Apply in person: 601 S Myrtle St, Seattle, WA 98108
- Steeler: Hiring a machinist and mechanic, send resume to Lindsay Decker
- Fred Meyer Distribution Warehouse: Hiring order fillers, apply here
- Dawn Foods: Hiring multiple line / operator positions, all shifts, apply here (choose the Seattle Manufacturing Plant (MPSE) Location to see the positions open)
- Brand / Aluma Systems: 3-5 openings, contact Anthony McKinney for application
- Viking Sprinkler: 1 opening (prefer a welding background), apply at: 3434 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134
- AmerisourceBergen: Currently has openings on days and nights, to apply for these positions go to Indeed.com or AmerisourceBergen website
- City of Black Diamond: Hiring a Judicial Specialist, apply here
- City of Kent:
- City of Tacoma General Unit:
- Macys Stores:
- Macys Logistics:
- Pierce County: