TUCSON, AZ (3TV / CBS5) – Teamsters in Tucson are calling for a temporary closure of the UPS distribution facility after the COVID-19 outbreak inside the facility.
Neither UPS nor the Arizona Health Services Department disclosed the extent of its spread. However, Local Teamster 104 members said they believed at least 36 employees at the facility tested positive for COVID-19, including three employees who were reported to have been treated in the intensive care unit. Each UPS driver sends hundreds of packages of cardboard boxes every day and often has close contact with community members.
The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can live on a cardboard box for 24 hours, according to a Teamsters statement. In addition, workers outside the states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah have been brought to the facility to compensate for disruption related to the outbreak, raising concerns about the possibility of cross-border spread.
“Our members at UPS in Arizona put themselves and their families at risk to help States and America through this crisis,” said Karla Schumann, Secretary-Treasurer of Local Teamsters 104. “If we expect important workers to do dangerous work and protect the community we function, companies like UPS have to give their workers a safe place to work. “
Union representatives said they believed the outbreak could be avoided if UPS did not refuse to follow the best practices recommended by leading public health officials. “We have been relentlessly demanding that Arizona UPS protect workers since March 12,” Schumann said. “Instead of taking seriously the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak, companies are waiting too long to require workers to wear masks and gloves, enforce social distance rules, conduct workers’ temperature and health checks, require COVID-19 employee testing, or work with public health authorities to conduct systematic contact tracking. In addition, UPS has refused to stop pressuring workers to come to work even if they feel sick or give workers and customers updates about the status of the outbreak. “
Teamsters believes that in the near future, this outbreak could cause severe disruptions in the delivery of health supplies, medicines, and other daily necessities throughout Arizona. They said that the news port had recently confirmed that some UPS customers had experienced delivery delays of one to two weeks as a result of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases at the facility, coupled with higher than normal package volumes.
At present, around 700 UPS employees in and out of the country work in the Tucson facility. “During this time, nothing is more important to me than the safety of our members, their families and our community,” Schumann said. “We rely on companies like UPS to get us through this crisis, and that means UPS must protect their workers by following the best practices outlined by leading public health experts.”
Teamsters Local 104 has 9,200 members in Arizona.
The Arizona family contacted UPS to comment. Matthew O’Connor, Senior Manager of Public Relations, with UPS sent us this statement.
“Our top priority is always the safety of our employees and the communities we serve. We have active communication with 104 local leaders in Tucson to hear and resolve their problems. In every case where a diagnosis is confirmed, we immediately contact the Department of Public Health to facilitate the contact trail, fully clean the work area before continuing work, and communicate with potentially affected employees. We have strict safety protocols, including cleaning our facilities several times a day, providing our employees with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), applying social distance, and providing supplies to clean their work stations and vehicles. We have the privilege and responsibility to continue to work safely during this challenging period. “
The following is some additional information about actions that UPS believes are taken to keep employees safe.
Communication: We continue to communicate frequently and regularly with our employees about recommended behavior to manage health risks.
Hygiene protocol and social distance:
-We continue to share hygiene protocols suggested by the CDC and WHO with all employees.
The company has modified, and will continue to modify, our normal operating procedures to maintain the social distance protocol. For example, we have added space between workstations within our facilities and suspended which requires customers to sign the package “required signature”.
-We have also modified other protocols involving site access, employee meetings and public interactions at the service counter.
Signs of disease:
-If employees experience symptoms such as fever or respiratory infections, they are required to seek medical treatment. We don’t want them to come to work if they are sick.
-UPS will provide compensation of up to 10 days for each employee who is diagnosed with a virus, or who is required to quarantine, or if a household member is diagnosed with a virus and the employee must be quarantined.
Clean and disinfect our facilities and equipment:
– We have substantially improved surface cleaning and disinfectant in all our facilities.
-Our vehicles and equipment are cleaned and disinfected every day with an emphasis on interiors and frequent exterior touch points, and we provide our employees with supplies so they can wipe their surfaces and work vehicles throughout the day.
PPE Material: We have distributed protective equipment to employees and we regularly replenish supplies at our facilities.
– This includes hand soap, hand sanitizer, and tissue. Disinfecting wipes are very limited in the supply chain, but we have other bleach disinfecting solutions.
-UPS provides disposable masks and gloves for our employees. We strongly recommend that our employees use masks or face masks, and we have provided guidelines for our employees to use them properly. We follow all government directives that require the use of masks or facial masks.
For additional information, please visit the “How do we respond to Coronavirus Novels” at UPS Press Room.
– Local Teamsters 104 (@ ibtlu104) May 22, 2020
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