FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mar. 31, 2020
Contact: Molly Hendriksen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510.418.2511
Damaris Lara email@example.com, 213.924.2419
LA County Board of Supervisors Advances Motion to Protect Grocery Retail, Drug Store and Food Delivery Workers
Ordinance would mandate health and safety measures and priority access to COVID-19 testing for grocery and drug store and food delivery workers in Los Angeles County.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an emergency motion to develop public health mandates for emergency health and safety measures in grocery and drug stores and for food delivery drivers.
The motion, which was sponsored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, would cover grocery and retail drug stores throughout Los Angeles County and all companies that operate food delivery platforms in the county. The supervisors will take a final vote within a week.
While nonessential businesses remain closed to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus, grocery and drug stores remain open. Workers report a piecemeal approach to safety, with some stores installing plexiglass shields and access to personal protective equipment and other workers going without any protections or forced to provide it for themselves if they can locate the needed items.
The county motion also requires that food delivery workers who are afforded none of the rights of employees by the companies they work for, like Instacart, Doordash and Shipt, be treated as employees and be afforded the necessary protective tools at company expense . It also mandates access to COVID-19 testing with no cost to the worker. The ordinance would sunset when the county’s emergency declaration is lifted.
“We are demanding access to protective gear and training on how to use it properly to keep us safe,” said Deandre Williams, a cashier at Ralphs. “The big grocery companies are not stepping up and making sure every single grocery and pharmacy worker is safe. We need action from our elected leaders to respond to this crisis immediately and with urgency. I am not a trained health professional, I need to know we are safe.”
“Los Angeles County leaders have recognized that we need a uniform approach to safety that protects all workers and the public. We cannot allow large multinational grocers like Amazon, Walmart and Kroger to dole out less than the minimum safety equipment to workers. We all agree they are performing an essential service so they need the essential protections,” said John Grant, president of UFCW 770. “Los Angeles is a model for the rest of the state. We thank Supervisor Ridley-Thomas for his leadership in protecting workers during this crisis.”
“As the necessary precautions to protect our most vulnerable have been put in place across the country, we must also do the same and protect our frontline responders in the delivery service industry. In this difficult moment, a visit to the grocery store makes extraordinarily clear, food and grocery delivery drivers are essential workers. And we must do all that we can to protect them,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, “This motion will provide these vital individuals with the fundamental supplies and equipment that will protect their health and well-being.”
Following today’s vote, county counsel has been instructed to draft an ordinance that the five members of the Board of Supervisors will consider within the week. The ordinance will require during the State of Emergency that Grocery Retail, Drug Retail and Food Delivery employers to:
- Allow employees adequate paid time to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes, or as needed if gloves are provided,
- Provide employees at their expense, all necessary sanitary tools and supplies, including, but not limited to, hand sanitizer, disinfecting cleaning products, and protective gear (gloves, etc.), as well as appropriate training on their proper use.
- Provide employees in the stores sanitary bathrooms, stocked with necessary soap, towels, toilet seat covers and toilet paper, are made available to employees.
- Provide sufficient staffing at the stores and all necessary sanitary tools and supplies, at their expense, to properly clean the stores and shopping carts between use, and to provide dedicated hand washing or sanitizing stations at the entrance of all stores for use of employees before entering the stores, and plexiglass barriers at points of sale.
- Provide adequate security for necessary crowd control & ensure social distancing measures.
- Provide employees at employer expense access to coronavirus testing,
- Provide support to employees to address childcare and family needs
- Provide all of the above without retaliation to workers asserting their rights.
The County will implement this motion by:
- Developing protocols to establish operating hours to better serve vulnerable populations and ensure adequate time to re-stock stores.
- Developing protocols to implement the terms of this interim ordinance, and/or order or regulation as appropriate to ensure proper action health standards for employees and community.
- Developing mechanisms for employers to support employees who must self-isolate and/or self-quarantine in accordance with any Health Officer Order.
About UFCW Local 770:
UFCW Local 770 represents over 20,000 grocery workers in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Overall, the union represents more than 30,000 members in the retail food, retail pharmacy, meatpacking and food processing, laboratory, and cannabis industries. Its retail members are disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.