September 25, 2020
Department of Labor and Industry
Commonwealth of Virginia
Main Street Centre
600 East Main Street, Suite 207
Richmond, Virginia 23219
On behalf of the nearly 10,000 members of the UFCW Local 400 in Virginia, who have been risking their lives working on the front lines of the pandemic, we urge the Virginia Safety and Health Standards Board to promulgate a strong permanent standard which will protect workers from contracting COVID-19.
We strongly support the Virginia Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that has been passed and enacted. It has been effective and is protecting workers from infection. All of our employers in the Commonwealth have taken steps to comply with the standard, including providing training, which has created safer workplaces. However, the ETS is set to end on January 27, 2021, and we know the threat of COVID-19 will continue. Another wave of infections is anticipated, and without permanent protections, workers will continue to be put at risk.
UFCW Local 400 represents 30,000 workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, poultry and food processing, and in the seafood industry across the mid-Atlantic. To date, over 631 members of the Union have tested positive for COVID-19, including over 336 in Virginia, and 7 members have died as a result of the virus. We implore you keep these members safe going forward by passing a strong permanent standard.
The following steps have been taken by UFCW employers in Virginia, since the ETS went into effect:
It is important to note that not all of our employers proactively implemented these measures, and there have been times when employers were lax in enforcement. The ETS also provides our union with important enforcement mechanisms as well.
We are in full support of a strong, permanent standard and recommend the following elements from the temporary standard be retained in the permanent standard:
We recommend the following elements be removed or strengthened to ensure that the standard fulling protects all workers.
We strongly believe that a permanent standard simplifies things for employers, workers, and their unions. A permanent standard issued by Virginia OSHA will facilitate all parties working together to achieve the goal of protecting workers from this deadly illness.
Mark P. Federici
International Vice President