Union calls for UPS distribution closure amid possible COVID-19 outbreak

Local union calls for UPS distribution closure amid possible COVID-19 outbreak

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Teamsters 104 union officials are calling for the UPS distribution center in Tucson to shut down its operations to deal with what it calls a “serious” Covod-19 outbreak at the facility.

“I really want them to shut down the building down. I want them to mandatory test everybody. I want them to completely disinfect that building from floor to ceiling, wall to wall,” said Karla Schumann, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters 104.

Schumann said the first case appeared at the center on Silverlake Road in Tucson May 6 and “has spread like wildfire and still does.”

The union and UPS have been in discussions for several days without results, although the company has begun temperature tests for its employees.

The union believes the number of cases could be 36 but it may be higher.

Privacy laws prevent the county from releasing the data.

The problem started to bubble to the surface in early May when UPS customers began to complain that packages were late or were not being delivered at all.

The company alerted its customers saying the delay was attributed to circumstances beyond their control.

UPS, which has seen a dramatic demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, began to hire workers and in some cases transfer workers from out of state to come to Tucson to deliver packages.

That’s another union objection because of the safety issues.

The came “from New Mexico, Colorado, Utah,” Schumann said. “It is unfortunate they are bringing folks to work in these conditions and then send those people back to their families.”

UPS refused a request for an on-camera interview but did send this statement:

“Our first priority is always the safety of our employees and the communities we serve. We have been in active communication with Local 104 leaders in Tucson to hear and address their concerns. In any instance where there is a confirmed diagnosis, we immediately contact the Department of Public Health to facilitate a contact trace, fully clean the work area before work resumes, and communicate with potentially impacted employees. We have rigorous safety protocols in place, including cleaning our facilities multiple times a day, providing our employees with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), implementing social distancing, and providing supplies to clean their work stations and vehicles. We have both a privilege and a responsibility to continue safely working during this challenging period.”

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva attended a press event at the UPS distribution center called by Teamsters 104.

“I’m in support of what I think is a practical and necessary step in what the union is asking for on behalf of the employees here at UPS,” Grijalva said.

The union is not calling for a permanent shutdown but only as long as it takes to make the work environment safe.

“I want UPS up and running, no doubt about it,” Schumann said. “But I want it done safely.”

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