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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and UFCW Local 152 Workers



Note: The information listed may change and update as the situation unfolds.


Latest Updates and Messages:

September 9: The Pandemic Didn’t End. Why Did Hazard Pay?

June 12: President Brian String Issues Second Letter to ACME Markets

May 12: President Brian String Issues Letter to ACME Markets Officials

April 9: UFCW Introduces Telemedicine Program

March 21: COVID-19 Message from President String

March 18: COVID-19 Update from President String

NEW: “COVID Alert NJ” App

In early October, the New Jersey Department of Health announced the launch of “COVID Alert NJ,” a brand new app available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store for free. This app will be a crucial public health tool in keeping workers and patrons safe and allowing businesses to stay open!

COVID Alert NJ information

We encourage our members to use this new app to protect themselves and families from exposure. Learn more and download the app on NJ.gov!

Pennsylvania and Delaware also have similar apps available for download: COVID Alert PA and COVID Alert DE.


Workers at Increased Risk within the UFCW membership

Working people are at increased risk if they frequently interact with potentially infected or infected individuals. Workers who are at increased risk include:

  • Healthcare workers are among those at highest risk: including those who work in hospitals, long term care facilities, and other healthcare settings;
  • Workers who have been identified as “essential personnel” by their employers during an outbreak or quarantine; and
  • Other workers with broad exposure to the public, including retail workers.

Local 152 Introduces Telemedicine Program

The Telemedicine and Teletherapy programs are now live and available to members who have medical coverage and their eligible dependents through the UFCW Local 152 Health and Welfare Fund, UFCW Tri-State Health and Welfare Fund, and the UFCW Health and Welfare Fund. This new program provides on-demand, 24/7 access to voice or video calls with state-licensed healthcare providers. Learn more on the official posting.


Protection for Workers

Healthcare Workers

The UFCW recommends that all potentially exposed healthcare workers have access to adequate supplies of N95 disposable, filtering facepiece respirators, which are commonly used in healthcare.  Some employers have begun using respirators, such as elastomeric half-masks and Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs), which are even more protective than N95 respirators.  Personal protective equipment also includes gloves, gown, and face shield.

OSHA requires the employer to fit test workers annually, as well as when the worker has experienced significant weight fluctuation, dental work or other facial differences that would impact the seal of a tight-fitting respirator. PAPRs use hoods and do not require fit testing. Workers must be medically cleared to use respirators. All workers are entitled to training on respirator use. Surgical masks are never adequate for respiratory protection. 

Workers responsible for cleaning patient rooms, treatment rooms and equipment must be provided appropriate PPE and training to protect them both from contracting the coronavirus and from the strong chemicals used to kill the virus. If the employer introduces new cleaning products into the facility, the workers are entitled to training on the product, as required by OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.

CDC recommends the following protocols for Infection Control Procedures in healthcare settings:

Patients with suspected coronavirus should be given a surgical mask and moved immediately into an isolation room, preferably a negative pressure room. The facility’s infection control plan should provide guidance on isolation, cleaning, sanitizing, and sterilization of patient care equipment.

All personnel who enter the patient’s room should use standard, contact and airborne precautions—gowns, gloves, face shields and NIOSH-certified disposable N95 or stronger respirators, such as powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs). Surgical masks are not a substitute for respirators and do not protect the wearer. Donning personal protective equipment (PPE) should be done in the following order:

  1. Wash or gel hands
  2. Gown
  3. Respirator
  4. Face shield or goggles
  5. Gloves

When removing or doffing PPE, the user should assume the exterior is contaminated. Doffing PPE should be done in this order:

  1. Gloves
  2. Eye cover
  3. Gown
  4. Respirator
  5. Wash or gel hands

There should also be a facility protocol to evaluate workers who report fevers and symptoms after exposure to a suspected and/or confirmed infected patient. Employers should keep records of any worker infection, which should be investigated and presumed to be work-related unless proven otherwise.

Autumn Lake Healthcare Members —
  • All members will receive a 10% increase.

Catholic Health Group (St. Mary’s, Bishop McCarthy, and Our Lady’s Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare) Members —
  • Effective April 5 through May 2, any member who works a minimum of 10 shifts per pay period will be entitled to a COVID-19 Bonus. Bonuses will be awarded during the payroll following the biweekly period with confirmed attendance. Any call outs will forfeit your bonus eligibility. The Bonus Program will be as follows:
    • LPNs: $350
    • CNAs:  $250
    • All Other Departments: $175

Southgate Health Care Center Members —
  • Effective April 7th, all members will receive a 10% Hero Pay increase during the pandemic.

Spring Oak (Vineland and Berlin) Members —
  • Effective April 5th, all members in the “Wellness Department” will receive $2/hour appreciation pay until further notice. All other employees will receive $1/hour appreciation pay. This increase will be reviewed and possibly extended to a later date.

United Methodist Communities (Bristol Glen, Collingswood, Pitman, The Shores) Members —
  • Beginning March 29, all workers will receive a $2/hour appreciation pay on all worked hours (including overtime). For clarification, this will not be paid on PTO, paid holidays, or other paid time that is not actually worked. This will extend through the month of June. The company will review and possibly extend and/or modify as the situation unfolds.


Retail Workers

The main route of exposure for retail workers to the virus is through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

  • Workers should have access to adequate supplies of alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the workstation as well as disinfectants to clean and disinfect workstations.
  • Frequently wipe down the workstation with disinfectant.
  • Take frequent breaks to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home from work if you exhibit symptoms of acute respiratory illness such as coughing or shortness of breath.

CDC recommends that if you do become symptomatic, you should stay home and not come to work until you are free of fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).

Acme Markets Members —
  • Acme Markets has agreed to provide UFCW Local 152 members appreciation pay during this crisis. Members will receive an additional $2/hour for all hours worked, retroactive to Sunday, March 15th through June 13th. The company will review and possibly extend as the situation unfolds.

Murphy’s Fresh Marketplace Members —
  • Retroactive to March 15th, all workers will receive an extra $2/hour for all hours worked, and Department Heads will see an additional $3/hour. This pay will be through April 4th, when the company will review and possibly extend depending on the situation.
  • Effective immediately, all Murphy’s Fresh Markets employees will be also eligible for temporary COVID-19 Emergency Sick Pay. For complete details, please contact Denise Lucas in Human Resources.

ShopRite Members —
  • Beginning Sunday, March 22nd, all ShopRite employees will receive a $2/hour appreciation pay.  This will be available to all of our members through Saturday, June 13th.
  • On June 14th, all members in New Jersey and Pennsylvania will continue to receive a $2/hour appreciation pay through July 4th. Members in Delaware will receive a $1/hour appreciation pay through July 4th.
  • From July 5th through August 1st, all members will receive $1/hour appreciation pay.
  • All of UFCW Local 152’s ShopRite members (EXCEPT those who work for Village Supermarkets*) will be eligible for temporary COVID-19 Emergency Sick Pay and a more lenient Attendance Policy. These modifications are introduced to protect the safety of our members, while still supplying the needs of the community during this crisis. For complete details, please contact Human Resources at your store. If you don’t know who that person is, please ask your Shop Steward.
    1. If you are able to work but are concerned about reporting to work OR choose not to work, you may use any available paid time off, including vacations and personal holidays.
    2. If you are not able to work due to a government or Employer-mandated quarantine without regard to the source of exposure OR if the store is closed by the government and you are not reassigned to another store, you will be granted sick pay of up to 80 hours for full-timers or up to 40 hours for part-timers.
    3. If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19, then you will be granted sick pay of up to 80 hours for full-timers or up to 40 hours for part-timers. If you have sick pay, you will use that first, then you will receive any remaining paid time up to the maximum provided.
  • You will not be subject to the attendance policy during this time, as long as you maintain regular contact with your Employer.

*Unfortunately, Village Supermarkets has chosen to implement its own policy. We do not have details of their policy at this time.

Food Processing Workers

Workers in food processing plants work in close proximity to other workers.  While you are not exposed to the public, you could be exposed if a co-worker or supervisor is sick or exhibits symptoms of illness.

  • Clean your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol or wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • There should be adequate supplies of soap and water in bathrooms, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers in the workplace.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Personal protective equipment, such as gloves, should be replaced on a regular basis.

Stay home from work if you exhibit symptoms of acute respiratory illness such as coughing or shortness of breath. CDC recommends that if you do become symptomatic, you should stay home and not come to work until you are free of fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).

151 Foods Members —
  • Effective April 9, members at 151 Foods will be receiving appreciation pay. Line leads will be making an extra 35¢ per hour, General Helpers will be receiving an additional 25¢ per hour, and all other members will receive an additional 30¢ per hour.

B&B Poultry Members –
  • Members will receive a one-time bonus payment of $200 on May 2, 2020.
  • If the stay-at-home order continues through April 30, a second $200 payment will be given on May 30, 2020.
  • Employees will qualify for this payment if they have no unexcused time during the two periods above, are not out on leave, or paid sick time.

Barry Callebaut Members –
  • Full-time employees will be eligible for up to a maximum of 80 hours of paid leave for many circumstances related to COVID-19. Part-time employees will be provided with a prorated paid sick leave benefit based on their hours worked.
    1. COVID-19 diagnosis or presumptive diagnosis with 14-day isolation required for one’s own illness OR to care for a sick dependent: up to 80 hours of paid leave.
    2. Illness recovery from COVID-19 greater than 14 days: state disability
    3. Self-isolation due to travel from a Level 3 Country OR quarantine for possible exposure/family member in the same household: Up to 80 hours of paid leave
    4. Schools and daycare facilities closed: 40 hours of vacation taken first, then up to 80 hours of paid leave
    5. Temporary plant furlough: Up to 80 hours of paid leave
  • Any employee that does not need to use this policy will be paid the balance of Emergency Sick hours at the end of the pandemic.
  • Absences applicable to this policy will not be subject to “points” in the attendance policy.

Berks Packing Members —
  • Effective April 5th through May 2nd, members will receive a 40¢ appreciation differential on top of their usual hourly rate for all hours worked. It will not be included on paid time off, sick leave, or other paid leave.

DS Services Members —
  • DS Services will be giving eligible members an appreciation bonus of $500 on Friday, April 10th.

J&J Snack Foods Members —
  • Effective March 29th through May 9th, all workers will receive an extra $2/hour for all hours worked.
  • Paid leave (up to 80 hours) for any member who tests positive for COVID-19 or who is quarantined by Federal, State or Local government orders due to COVID-19 symptoms.

Kraft Heinz Members —
  • Kraft Heinz workers will receive an extra $100 per week to help with any unexpected expenses related to COVID-19. Kraft will be evaluating on a week-to-week basis as the situation unfolds.
  • Any member who tests positive for COVID-19 will be fully compensated for the first two weeks of their illness.

Kunzler & Company Members —
  • Kunzler members will receive an additional 60¢ per hour, effective April 5th through May 2nd.

TQ Baking Members —
  • All members received a $300 bonus check on March 26 in appreciation for their dedication and commitment to meet the demands of customers and consumers.
  • Effective April 12, all members will receive a $2/hour pay increase, to continue until there is no longer a shelter-at-home order.

Tyson Food Members — 
  • Members who have no unexcused absences in April, May, or June, and who are also hired before April 1st, 2020 will receive a $500 bonus the first week of July. An example of an unexcused absence would be a “no call, no show.”


Priorities for the UFCW for all industry sectors: 

UFCW Local 152 is encouraging employers to have the following in place:

  • Comprehensive workplace plans to identify potential exposure routes, controls to mitigate risk and training procedures.
  • Protections for different groups of workers, following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines.
  • Policies to encourage sick workers to stay at home without the loss of pay, benefits, seniority or other benefits.
  • Economic policies for unemployment scenarios, where people are not able to be at work or are required to work overtime to take care of patients.
  • Emphasis on personal hygiene practices, hand-washing, and respiratory etiquette.
  • Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, especially N95 respirators, and respirator fit testing for highest at-risk worker, i.e. health care workers
  • Protocols to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Protocols in case of a workplace or community outbreak, including possible self-quarantine or workplace quarantine.
  • Plans for supply shortages, triage, prioritization, and other contingencies.
  • Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before hosting and attending events or large gatherings. CDC recommendations may change as the situation evolves.

Emergency Child Care (NJ)

A few months ago, New Jersey launched an Emergency Child Care Assistance Program (ECCAP) to help support child care costs when a parent/guardian is an essential employee. This program is now closed.

However, if you still need help paying for child care, you can still apply for the state’s Child Care Subsidy Program.

For school-aged children, New Jersey is now offering a new program called School-Age Tuition Assistance Program, which will provide tuition assistance to parents/caretakers with school-age children (5 to 13 years old) in need of child care due to schools’ remote learning schedules this fall as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.


Unemployment FAQs (NJ)

New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development
North New Jersey: 201-601-4100;
Central New Jersey: 732-761-2020;
South New Jersey: 856-507-2340;
Out of state: 888-795-6672

  1. Who qualifies for unemployment?
    Most people who were employed for at least 20 weeks in the past year will qualify for unemployment, but there are some exceptions. See this website for details that may apply to your situation.
  2. When should I file for unemployment?
    You should file as soon as possible. You can file online or by phone, but you must file your claim at a certain time of day depending on the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Here are some additional instructions.
  3. What if I don’t live and work in the same state?
    You should file for unemployment in the state where you work.
  4. What percentage of my pay will be replaced by unemployment benefits?
    Your benefit rate is 60% of the average weekly wage you earned during the past year, up to the current maximum weekly benefit rate of $713. For a personalized estimate of the benefits you will receive, use the New Jersey State Department of Labor & Workforce Development’s benefit rate calculator tool.
  5. What if I didn’t lose my job but am being scheduled to work fewer hours?
    You can still apply for unemployment. You will likely receive at least partial unemployment benefits if you are working part-time when you usually work full-time.
  6. I have a different question about unemployment benefits.
    You can look at this chart for additional guidance.
  7. Who qualifies as an essential employee in New Jersey?
    For a list of essential workers and businesses in New Jersey, click here.
  8. What kind of paid sick leave or paid family leave do I get under the new federal law?
    The new federal law requires your employer to provide 14 days of paid leave if you have coronavirus or if you are placed in quarantine to care for a family member who has coronavirus. You must receive at least two-thirds of your wages during that 14-day period.
  9. I have another question!
    See if it is already answered on New Jersey’s Department of Labor FAQs During Coronavirus.



Protecting Yourself

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus. According to WHO and the CDC, the best way to prevent illness is to take preventative actions, such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if your hands aren’t clean.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Clean surfaces you often touch.
  • Stay home from work, school, and public areas if you’re sick.

Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread

We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slow the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.




U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration: osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/index.html


Additional Guidance and Resources

Official State Health Departments

Other Resources