Update from Secretary-Treasurer Mike Cales on COVID-19

Brothers and Sisters,

As you are aware, the situation regarding COVID-19 has been exponentially growing and changing over the past few days. The response to combat the virus has increased substantially with the availability of more testing, increases in mandates to limit social exposure, and newly passed  federal legislation, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  Please go to our website for detailed information about this bill which may provide you with increased paid sick leave and FMLA benefits.

The increased availability of tests in the United States reveal the dramatic spread of the virus. The serious nature of the pandemic cannot be overstated. This virus is moving quickly and does not discriminate. All of us must take the threat of coronavirus seriously.

Our biggest concern should be to protect not only ourselves, but our family, friends, and coworkers. Hand washing, sanitizing surfaces, and other common sense healthy practices should be done as frequently as possible. The practice of social distancing should be taken extremely seriously and done wherever practical. The research shows that this is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the virus and helps to keep the situation as manageable as possible for our healthcare providers. Recommendations to self-quarantine or increases in mandates to “shelter in place” that are likely forthcoming must be adhered to as directed.

I ask you to also be aware that this virus is more serious to those with underlying medical conditions than it would be in an otherwise healthy individual. This particularly includes those who are immunocompromised and those with respiratory conditions – regardless of your age. It is important to take that into consideration if you have an underlying condition, or if a family member you are around regularly has an underlying condition. If you are exposed to the virus, you can pass it along to those around you.

With that being said, I know that so many of our members are considered essential and need to continue working in order to keep our country moving forward. Without distribution and supply chain workers, our country would come to a screeching halt. This pandemic illustrates just how critical our work is to the safety and security of the nation. The entire nation is seeing what we as Teamsters do to support our communities. Seeing Teamsters continuing to do their important work will give confidence to a weary nation that we will get through this crisis together. 

Know that we are continuing to work directly with your employers to do everything we can together to ensure that you are able to work as safely as possible. Though resources are limited, there are practical steps we can all take to increase safety. Your Business Agents will continue to be available to you throughout this time and are prepared to assist you as we work through this together.

I ask that each and every one of you use your best judgement when it comes to your response to this. Do what is best for you and your family. Remember, if you have any concerning symptoms or have been exposed to someone with the virus, please take precautions and be responsible to avoid the risk of continuing to spread the virus. Make sure you contact your employer and let them know your situation before coming into work. Several of your employers have already established procedures to address matters should you become unable to work due to exposure to the virus, needing to quarantine or care for a family member who’s been exposed, or to care for your children. That, paired with the FFCRA, gives workers the protections that should be a right to everyone, along with some peace of mind in an increasingly concerning time. We are gathering new policies, procedures, and agreements with your employers, and we will be sharing those with you as we receive them.  

These are trying times, but we will get through this. Your Local Union has your back, and we will continue to provide you with information and updates as we move through this together. Please take extra care of yourselves and do what is best for your families. Be safe out there.

In solidarity,

Mike Cales

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