The Current Pandemic involving the COVID-19 Virus has affected our members on the job in ways like never before seen. In the form of unprecedented layoffs, changing the manner in which they do their jobs on a daily basis; anxiety, stress, and uncertainty at home and in the workplace. Many of our members are on the front lines of the Pandemic and are working in medium to high-risk jobs facing the chance of exposure at work almost every day.
Especially at ANGELICA TEXTILE SERVICES and CROWN LINEN. There, our members work in the commercial laundry and linen service industries that directly service Hospitals, Healthcare facilities, clinics, food service, salons, etc. They pick up and deliver clean and soiled linens, sheets, pillowcases, uniforms, towels, floor mats, etc.
The Workers there have received training on the handling of soiled linen potentially contaminated with Harmful viruses, using all the universal precautions, which include wearing company provided Personal protective equipment such as fluid-impervious gloves, protective gowns, and safety glasses. At CROWN LINEN there have been two more route delivery driver layoffs at the Pawtucket, R.I. Facility due to the drop in business from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
At TWIN-RIVER CASINO, our members there have been the hardest hit in terms of Layoffs. The Casino will remain closed as Ordered by Governor Gina Raimondo until further notice due to the COVID-19 virus. The Maintenance, valet and shuttle classifications employees have all been furloughed with only a limited work opportunity in maintenance. I have reached out to the trustees on the Teamsters Health & Welfare fund to inquire if benefits could be extended during the layoff. I will continue to follow up on it and report back.
Meanwhile at the UPS HUB-TWI & MIDNIGHT SORT the IBT and UPS have agreed to a (10) ten-day paid leave policy that covers the full time and part-time employees directly impacted by COVID-19. We performed an inspection of the working conditions on the UPS hub to asses and evaluate the risk of COVID-19 exposure. I found them to be inadequate. The company was not following the “social distancing guidelines” and Hygiene for our members who were sorting packages, loading, and unloading trailers. I immediately filed a charge with OSHA claiming that t UPS Management was violating the “ General Duty Clause” which requires that employers keep workers safe from recognized hazards in the workplace, in this case, the COVID-19 virus. The issue is being pursued with the State of RI as well.
In the PROVIDENCE-UPS-FEEDER Department, our members have been given their own spray bottles filled with a bleach and water mixture, sanitizing wipes, disinfectant, and disposable gloves to help limit the spread of the virus and to keep the interior cabs of their tractors clean and sanitized. Also, the bathroom and locker room in the department is being cleaned and sanitized twice a day now and the offices as well. There was a Local Level Grievance hearing held for all active, open unsettled grievances. We currently have (7) seven grievances filed for the UPS-Teamsters New England Area parcel grievance committee hearings in May.
At UPS Freight the IBT and the company also agreed to a ten-day paid leave policy that covers full and part-time bargaining unit employees who have become directly impacted by the coronavirus. The company has notified all the Local Unions Business Agents in New England that there will be immediate layoffs this week due to the downturn in business. Three part-time dockworkers and one full-time driver have received Lay-off notices at the Lincoln, R.I. UPSF terminal. I reported last month that a city-driver was discharged for insubordination and overall work record, and the driver has been reinstated with his seniority intact and all rights, benefits, and privileges restored. We also had three grievances filed and docketed for the Eastern Region UPS Freight- Teamsters grievance panel in March. Two were settled favorably, the third was withdrawn with rights relevant to a pay penalty for premium wages paid on a R.I. State holiday. We also had two terminations in February for Dishonesty resulting in an offense of Extreme seriousness. Prior to the local level hearing, one of the employees tragically passed away. I continued to present both grievances at the hearing and was able to negotiate a reinstatement for the deceased discharged employee, greatly helping with benefits owed to the family. The other grievance was denied at the Local Level hearing by the company and has been filed for the eastern region grievance panel hearings.
At LAZ PARKING at TF Green Airport, we have approximately thirty members total there, 28 shuttle drivers and two maintenance workers. As of the end of March, all but four shuttle drivers have been laid off as a direct result of the coronavirus substantially reducing Airport traffic. We recently had one of our shuttle drivers involved in a minor accident in the garage on the Airport property, and has been returned to work with pay of all lost wages including overtime.
This has created a dispute relevant to the company’s determination of what constitutes “reasonable cause suspicion”. The company has also informed me that they intend to install cameras in the shuttle buses. I sent the company a request to effects bargain over the installation of the cameras and also to bargain over what constitutes reasonable suspicion. I also sent the company a reminder to cease and desist the installation of any camera system until we have bargained the issue to an agreement or impasse. I will formulate contract language relevant to the camera system and add protections for exactly what constitutes reasonable suspicion to provide additional protections for our members on the job at Laz Parking.
At ELITE LINE SERVICES One of our Skilled trade electricians was recently terminated for insubordination, and we filed a grievance which has since been filed for arbitration.
I filed another grievance on behalf of one of our members who felt he was not being treated fairly when it came to a job opening and posting at the TF green site location. The company has agreed to permanently post any job postings available throughout the company with a QR code on it so our members can scan it with their smartphones and type in the State they wish to check for any job openings and also post any job opening that are exclusive to the TF Green Airport location.