United Brotherhood of Teamsters representatives say the new CDC guidelines that relax health guidelines for frontline workers will further threaten the safety and wellbeing of not only the workers but also members of the public.
Dr. Robert Redfield, directly of the CDC, announced this week that essential employees including health care and food supply workers who have been within 6 feet of a confirmed or suspected case of the virus can return to work under certain circumstances if they don’t show symptoms, according to the Associated Press.
In a public statement, the union said:
“Teamsters and others who work in the food supply chain, as well as those working in the health care and waste industries, deserve to be protected as they perform their necessary duties. It makes no sense for the CDC to change direction now after previously siding with these frontline workers who are keeping America running during this moment of crisis. We need to protect these workers so they can do the job of protecting the rest of us.”
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said, “In these challenging times, all government agencies, especially the CDC, should be supporting those who continue to risk their well-being by doing essential jobs that are allowing their fellow Americans to keep their families safe and fed. This new CDC guidance flies in the face of that and needs to be overturned now.”
Workers across the country who have not received proper protections from their employers have previously walked off the job, saying their health is not worth the risk. That has left some grocery stores, warehouses and medical facilities understaffed, which also threatens the public. “It is not right to ask workers who have worked with colleagues diagnosed with COVID-19 to remain on the job,” said Lamont Byrd, Director of the Teamsters’ Health and Safety Department. “It’s not safe for them and it’s not safe for this country.”
Meanwhile, Teamsters representatives in California have been working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Council to secure additional protections for Teamsters Joint Council 42 members who are part of the essential workforce that services the City of Los Angeles.
This includes grocery drivers, warehouse workers, package delivery drivers, sanitation workers and public service workers.
The order, which goes into effect today, requires employers of essential business to either provide workers with cloth face coverings that shield their noses and mouths or reimburse employees for their cost. Essential businesses must also implement physical distancing measures for employees, customers and visitors; make sure employees have access to a clean and sanitary restroom, stocked with all necessary cleaning products like soap and sanitizer; and allow employees to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes.
Randy Cammack, President of Teamsters Joint Council 42 said, “I would like to commend the leadership demonstrated by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Council in taking this important step in protecting the lives of thousands of Teamsters here in the City of Los Angeles who are part of the essential workforce that is helping the city combat and overcome COVID-19. This is exactly the type of bold leadership that is needed in cities across the United States in order to curb the spread of this deadly disease. It is important especially during a global pandemic that employers prioritize the health and safety of their workers and not just their bottom line. Teamsters Joint Council 42 is proud to have been a part of this historic achievement that will ensure that Teamsters in the City of Los Angeles can work safely and provide the essential services that all of our communities depend on.”