A threatened strike by Teamsters over a company’s coronavirus safety protocols could affect dozens Brookdale Senior Living communities and Sunrise Senior Living communities in Arizona, the union said Wednesday.
More than 200 warehouse and delivery workers at US Foods who are members of Teamsters Local 104 in Phoenix have voted “overwhelmingly” to strike over what they allege is US Food’s nonadherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. Strikes and work stoppages at US Foods could start as early as Aug. 10, according to the union.
US Foods serves 28 Brookdale communities as well as Sunrise communities, hospitals, other healthcare facilities, schools and restaurants, the Teamsters said. The company is the second largest commercial food distributor in the Grand Canyon State, according to the union.
“We want to give US Foods’ customers enough time to prepare for service disruptions if US Foods forces us to strike to stop the company from breaking federal labor laws and violating CDC COVID-19 safety guidelines,” Teamsters Local 104 Vice President Josh Graves said. “We are encouraging current US Foods customers in Arizona to reach out to US Foods to request that the company reimburse customers for any losses they may suffer due to upcoming work stoppages and strikes at US Foods.”
The union maintains that US Foods has not followed public health recommendations to perform contact tracing for workers exposed to COVID-19, pre-screen employees for COVID-19 before entering the facility, and disinfect and clean work spaces. During one recent incident, the Teamsters said, the company allowed a supervisor to enter the facility despite showing signs of fever and having recently been in close contact with a probable COVID-19-positive person.
A US Foods spokesperson, however, told McKnight’s Senior Living that the company is “disappointed the union is making these claims” and that “[n]egotiations are not related to our extensive efforts to minimize the risks of COVID-19 or alleged labor law issues.”
“In fact, we are vigilant in our COVID-19 safety efforts, carefully following guidance from the CDC and state and local public health agencies,” the spokesperson added, “We respect the right of our associates to be represented by the union, and if they decide to strike, we have contingency plans in place to mitigate disruptions to our valued customers.”