Union: Dozens of Tucson UPS workers test positive for COVID-19

UPS COVID-19 cases
Updated: May. 29, 2020 at 7:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - More cases of COVID-19 have been discovered at the UPS distribution center on Silverlake Road in Tucson, according to the Teamsters Union 104.

The union held a voluntary testing event at the center on Saturday, May 24, though 83 of the more than 700 employees volunteered to be tested.

There were some positive cases according to the union but how many isn’t known because the results are slow to come back.

According to this release from the union, 43 workers have tested positive in the past three weeks.

“How much worse does this have to get before it gets better,” asked Karla Schumann, the secretary-treasurer of Teamsters 104.

The union says it has been trying to work with UPS on its COVID-19 cluster for weeks without much success. So much so, it went public with its concerns last week and offered free testing to workers who wanted it.

Schumann believes it would have been more than the 83 employees had not been a holiday weekend.

Still, she believes the union effort mitigated some potential damage.

“If we hadn’t offered the testing they would have just kept working until they became so sick they couldn’t work anymore,” she said.

UPS offered up a response to our questions about how the company is dealing with the outbreak.

The Pima County Health Department said it is now working with the company at the distribution center but was late getting there.

“We do ask employers to let us know if they have cases,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County medical director. “But once again, that is voluntary.”

Cullen said the department did not start collecting business information until last week.

“Up ‘till last Friday we did not routinely collect business information,” she said. “Once I became aware, along with some other people, of the UPS situation, we began to collect that information.”

The union remains frustrated in its efforts to protect the 100’s of workers it represents at the facility.

“This week we had 100 people brought in from out of state to work in that facility,” Schumann said. “You bring hundreds of other people into the equation and then send them back out, that’s a recipe for a mess.”

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