Leaders of United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 152 and 1776 Keystone State (UFCW 1776KS) are privately and publicly urging Hanover Foods management to agree to temporary sick pay and paid leave policies critical to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in food processing plants and surrounding communities.
The company refused to agree to several common sense and critical health and safety policy changes to compensate employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and/or are suffering from symptoms while in isolation or self-quarantine.
The unions are also requesting unpaid leave for employees who are at high risk, due to co-morbid conditions and/or weakened immune systems, if they decide to stay home to protect their health and the health of their families. The company rejected these requests as well.
“We repeatedly asked Hanover Foods to agree to the same best practices many other employers have already incorporated into new safety precautions to protect the workers and communities whose health are at risk,” said Brian String, President of UFCW Local 152 representing Hanover Foods workers at plants in Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. “Our members go back and forth between work and home and they shop in local stores and gas stations, just like every other resident.”
String added: “No matter how vigilant these workers are, we know they are at risk at work, thereby increasing the risk to their families and communities. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Wendell Young IV, President of UFCW Local 1776KS, emphasized Hanover Food’s obligation to protect all of the communities in which they operate.
“We know some workers cannot afford to miss even one day, much less one week’s pay, so they are going to work—no matter how they are feeling or what symptoms they may have,” Young said. “Given the obvious health risks to workers and nearby residents, the company needs to do the right thing. These are reasonable requests other employers have readily implemented.”
Both String and Young noted that Hanover agreed to some policy changes, which are welcomed, including staggering shifts and limiting access to nonessential personnel to allow for greater social distancing.
Presidents Young and String urge consumers to call Hanover Foods to demand they protect workers and the community by calling 717-632-6000.