Many employers haven’t been doing enough to make sure their essential workers are as protected on the job as they should be. And that’s where the leadership of unions like Local 171 in Salem, Va. have stepped in.
Noting a lack of personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer and cleaning solution for its worksites at UPS and elsewhere, Local 171 President Todd Robertson and Secretary-Treasurer Jim Pappas — with the help of other staff, their families, shop stewards and workplace safety committees – have made sure members have the materials they need to stay save on the job.
Scott Barry, Local 171’s Vice President, said members of Robertson’s and Pappas’ families have been sewing face masks so that all of the Local’s 1,200 members can have at least one. Meanwhile, those on site have been working hard to make sure workers have clean work spaces.
“The stewards and safety committees are working the trucks and dyads because the companies haven’t been doing anything,” he said.
They have been cleaning and sanitizing the trucks and the work areas daily, as well as hanging signs and placing tape on the floor to ensure the six-foot separation distance. The stewards and the safety committee co-chairs are ensuring the agreed-upon changes to UPS company procedures are adhered to. They also continue to make suggestions for improvements, Barry added.
Local 171 previously purchased a 55-gallon drum of cleaner and a 55-gallon drum of hand sanitizer. The local has also provided gloves for employees.