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Teamsters call on US Foods to stop violating COVID-19 safety guidelines

(Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters press release, July 29, 2020)

PHOENIX, Ariz. — More than 220 frontline US Foods workers are urging restaurants, healthcare providers and schools to prepare for possible commercial food service distribution disruptions. The warehouse and delivery workers, who are members of Teamsters Local 104 in Phoenix, voted overwhelmingly to strike to demand that the company comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID- 19 safety guidelines and stop violating federal labor laws. Strikes and work stoppages at U.S. Foods could start as early as Monday, August 10.

US Foods (NYSE: USFD) is the second largest commercial food distributor in Arizona, with customers that include: Banner Health’s network of hospitals and specialized healthcare facilities, twenty-eight Brookdale Senior Living facilities, Sunrise, Le Petitie Academy, Childtime and Kindercare childcare centers, as well as public schools that participate in the USDA’s National School Lunch Program. US Foods also services thousands of Arizona restaurants including Dairy Queen, Cookie Crumbl, Dickeys, Native Wings and P.F. Changs.

“We are concerned that the company’s refusal to follow CDC COVID-19 guidelines could turn the company’s Arizona operations into a hub for spreading the virus to struggling schools, hospitals and restaurants,” said Frank Solis, a member and union steward for Local 104 who works at US Foods. “We don’t want to strike but we may have no other choice if the company continues to refuse to prioritize the safety of its frontline workers, our families, our customers and the general public.”

Most recently, US Foods has refused to comply with the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines and the recommendations of public health experts regarding contact tracing procedures for workers exposed to COVID-19, pre-screening employees for COVID-19 before entering the facility, disinfecting and cleaning work spaces, etc.

During one recent incident, the company allowed a supervisor to enter the facility in spite of showing signs of fever and having recently been in close contact with a probable COVID-19 patient.

“We want to give U.S. Foods customers enough time to prepare for service disruptions if U.S. Foods forces us to strike to stop the company from breaking federal labor laws and violating CDC COVID-19 safety guidelines,” Teamsters Local 104 Vice President Josh Graves said. “We are encouraging current US Foods customers in Arizona to reach out to US Foods to request that company reimburse customers for any losses they may suffer due to upcoming work stoppages and strikes at US Foods.”

Approximately 5,000 U.S. foods workers are members of local unions associated with the Teamsters and other labor organizations nationwide. Thirty-nine Teamster locals representing US Food workers across the country may have the right to honor picket lines extensions. In 2016, US Foods workers in Arizona went on strike for four days and engaged in at least seven separate walkouts incited by the company’s numerous unfair labor practices during collective bargaining negotiations.

“During this time, nothing is more important to us than the safety of our members, their families, and the general public,” said Teamsters Warehouse Division Director and International Vice President Steve Vairma. “If US Foods expects its frontline workers to perform hazardous jobs and keep our society functioning, the company must provide workers with a safe workplace.”

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters

Thursday, July 30, 2020

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