Sherman A1Sherman A1's Journal
What grocery store workers need: A union leader on how to help employees stressed by the coronavirus
Chilling stories have appeared putting a grim spotlight on the increasing danger faced by grocery store workers in Italy, which, up until now, has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus health crisis. The stories have detailed the tragic death of 49-year old Mariagrazia Casanova in the city of Brescia, but also the sometimes lax and haphazard implementation of social distancing and worker protection for supermarket workers throughout the country, and the increasing number of sick workers.
For these workers, there is a spreading and palpable sense of fear, vulnerability and helplessness as they perform their crucial jobs every day.
So much about the situation in Italy has foreshadowed what we are experiencing in the U.S., and now, we are seeing signs of a similar crisis at our own supermarkets.
As of this writing, supermarket workers in Denver, Oregon and Washington State have tested positive for COVID-19. Here in New York City, two Trader Joes supermarkets have suddenly faced temporary closures after workers at the Soho and Union Square stores became confirmed cases of the disease. The closures at these stores, which have seen huge increases in customer traffic since the onset of the crisis, highlight the dangers grocery store workers performing their jobs in close quarters with other workers and customers are facing, typically for low pay and benefits.
Last week, photographer Sinna Nasseri was at Graces Marketplace, an upscale local market on New Yorks Upper East Side. Behind the counter, 62-year-old Vilma Valdivieso exchanged her rubber gloves for a fresh pair, as she did between each customer, to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination. But the next woman who reached the front of the line immediately asked, Are your hands clean?
I could see she was nearly in tears, says Nasseri, who spent time in several grocery stores and food vendors in Manhattan and Brooklyn. After Valdiviesos reassurances, the customer immediately calmed down, appeased; still, the exchange hung in the air. Thats just how the city feels these days. You can tell people dont mean to be like thattheyre just scared, she said.
The grocery workers Nasseri spoke with know their roles have changed dramatically, with the current public health crisis turning them into a lifeline for familiesand possibly the only other person a customer might talk to all day, or all week. Their jobs have grown to include absorbing and defraying the citys tension; smiling, politely assisting. Yesterday I had a situation, Westside Markets Gabriela Maldonado, 30, told Nasseri. An elderly woman refused to go into the store, she did not want to go. So I had to come out, take her order, pick the stuff out, pack it, and bring it right outside to her, because she refused to go in. And I understand.
Now among the citys most crucial personnel, grocery workers are nevertheless exposed to new dangers. Thanks to the global pandemic of COVID-19, which is tightening its grip on New York, were being encouraged to keep our distance from each other, even family and friends. In Governor Andrew Cuomos PAUSE order of March 22, gatherings of any size were banned. So-called nonessential workers were directed to stay at home unless absolutely necessaryleaving workers from the health care, manufacturing, infrastructure sectors to continue with their daily grind. Grocery stores, along with pharmacies, farmers markets, hardware stores, and a few other exceptions, are considered essential retail.
Missouris largest private-sector union and the grocery chains employing their partners are making significant changes to their Health & Welfare benefits to provide additional protections to workers adversely impacted by the growing coronavirus outbreak Local 655 President David Cook announced Monday.
United Food and Commercial Workers represents about 9,500 partners in the eastern half of the state. The overwhelming majority of these workers are employed at grocery stores like Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Straubs.
After extensive conversations with employers about their mutual desire to protect their hard-working employees during these uncertain times, the following changes have been made by the UFCW Local 655 Health & Welfare Fund:
All copays for coronavirus tests will be waived.
Increase in short-term disability benefits for partners that become ill with COVID-19.
All partners who become ill with COVID-19 will maintain 90% of their current pay.
Union dues and fees will be waived for all new employees for 45 days to allow employers to hire extra workers .
New telemedicine benefits for all partners with zero out-of-pocket costs.
St. Louis and St. Louis County residents will be under mandatory stay-at-home restrictions beginning Monday.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Parson said the state would take a different approach, announcing new social distancing measures to limit interactions in Missouri.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and Mayor Lyda Krewson announced the stay-at-home order on Saturday. The new restrictions, which require people to remain in their homes whenever possible, are part of an ongoing effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The order will remain in effect for 30 days.
It was an extremely difficult decision that we did not take lightly, Krewson said during a Saturday press conference, calling the order an unprecedented response.
Now, if only the "charming" elected government of the State would do the same.......
From their Facebook page.......
"We spent the day preparing food care packages for our employees. 🥬🍅🧅🍞While our refrigerators are now almost empty, we will continue to order food and supplies for our employees on a weekly basis so they dont have to worry about grocery bills. For all those who have purchased gift cards, we are dividing up 100% of those funds to Staff as well as a company contribution, which will be applied to their upcoming payroll checks. WE CANT THANK YOU ENOUGH for all the comments, DMs, emails, Yelp and Google reviews, and gift card purchases yall are blessing us with now.
Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. Keep lit, fam."
In order to avoid any potential conflict with any posting rules known or unknown I have deleted the links. They can however be found on Facebook or the web for anyone so inclined to help.
I copied what I thought to be the more important parts to pass along. I am sure a visit to their webpage will be more instructive.
We know many people are working from home and self-quarantining, which can put additional stress on your plumbing system and create serious plumbing and drain problems. Roto-Rooter is ready to help with service anytime you need us. Your local Roto-Rooter is operating normally and continues to schedule service appointments for homeowners and businesses. Roto-Rooter is considered an essential service provider in cities with curfews and travel restrictions.
Toilet paper is in short supply. If you're all out of toilet paper, there's no perfect solution, but you should never flush paper towels and napkins. They don't dissolve quickly in water and are likely to cause your toilet to back up. Facial tissue is another bad idea, but in the absence of toilet paper, you can use it in small amounts if you flush frequently.
We've created a special playlist of how-to videos on our YouTube channel to help you fix your own minor plumbing and drain problems. Click here to see the entire playlist. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBaDyY_iO2aPtll0gWozn4Oar88_IxE-O
through Friday, April 3 and will re-evaluate as needed in an effort to help limit the spread of coronavirus. Please check the SLCL website for updates, information will also be shared on the Librarys Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Due dates on materials will be extended during the closure. All holds will be left in place until the library reopens. Patrons are asked to keep materials at home until the library reopens. Book drops will not be available during the closure.
The decision to close is a difficult one. The employees of St. Louis County Library care deeply about serving our community. We recognize that the Library and its many programs and services are an invaluable resource. However, we view this as the most responsible path forward to support the health and well-being of our communities at this time.
St. Louis County Library has been working in conjunction with the leadership teams at St. Louis Public Library and St. Charles City-County Library to make coordinated decisions in the best interest of the public. The nine libraries of the Municipal Library Consortium of St. Louis are considering similar measures. We will continue to monitor developments and respond accordingly.
Patrons can access a variety of online resources remotely including eBooks, audiobooks, streaming content such as movies, TV shows and music, digital magazines, online classes and so much more. Below is a list of links:
Please visit www.slcl.org for additional information or call 314-994-3300. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.
On Saturday night by a customer who was apparently out of sorts. Not many details except the fellow has a black eye. I suggested she and her co-workers contact the Union for help in getting increase security in the store and that they all keep a few stray canned goods in their work carts 🛒 to use in their own defense.
It is getting ugly. Im happy to be retired.
St. Louis County Board of Elections requests to postpone April 7 election in response to the coronav
(St. Ann, MO March 13, 2020) In an effort to protect the health and wellbeing of St. Louis County voters and election workers -- and to preserve the integrity of the election -- the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners (BOE) will this Saturday petition the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, to postpone the April 7 municipal elections. The BOE will ask the Court to move the election date to April 28 and to authorize a vote by mail. If the Court declines to approve the mail-in vote on April 28, the BOE will request a delay until the August 2020 primary election.
Today, the United States federal government, the State of Missouri and St. Louis County declared states of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The BOE sees the request to delay the election as essential.
We believe this decision is necessary to protect the public and everyone involved in the election process, said BOE Commission Chair Sharon Buchanan-McClure.
The St Louis County Board of Elections, the largest election authority in the state, is responsible for all public elections, voter registration and voter record maintenance in St. Louis County. The Board is governed by a state-appointed, bipartisan board of commissioners. Nearly 750,000 registered voters in St. Louis County cast ballots in 1260 precincts from roughly 360 polling places.
I appreciate your service to our country and the 1st Missouri District which you represent so well. I would ask that in these spectacularly uncertain times for our nation and our economy I would urge you and all members of The House to not support any stimulus package that includes a Payroll Tax Holiday. As I am certain you would know, this undermines Social Security for the future and will simply leave far too many citizens with no assistance at all. We desperately need leadership, test kits, help for those who will be sidelined from their jobs through no fault of their own, assistance to those medical providers who are on the frontlines of this crisis and help for a nervous country, not a plan to sacrifice the future or retirees or those who will someday rely upon Social Security.
Thank You Very Much,
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