UFCW Tackling COVID-19 Contact Tracing
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is running its own coronavirus contact-tracing program for its 1.3 million members. The union has been sending agents into grocery stores, meatpacking plants and food-processing facilities to find out who has had the coronavirus and who may have been exposed.
Bloomberg recently wrote a report on the union's efforts, saying that "the program fills a void left by the Trump administration, which has failed to create a national test-and-trace regimen."
UCFW keeps a tally of workers who test positive as well as those awaiting test results. As of Aug 12., the union reports that there have been at least 130 grocery worker deaths and at least 8,200 workers infected by COVID-19.
When agents determine workers who may have been exposed, they notify the employer's human resources department, direct the employees to free testing sites and send text messages to all workers at an affected store whenever possible.
“We track down every time we hear a rumor about someone out sick,” Jonathan Williams, a spokesman at UFCW Local 400 in the Mid-Atlantic region, told Bloomberg. “We end up chasing down a lot of situations that aren’t cases.”
UCFW has also been vocal about calling on supermarket CEOs to reinstate hazard pay for its employees. Many grocers have ended the additional bonuses that they instituted after the government declared a national emergency and many states closed to everything but essential businesses.