Union demands stronger protection at the factory after the outbreak of COVID-19


A series of coronavirus infections in Iceland’s factories and warehouses indicates that employers need to take stronger steps to protect workers and stop the spread of the virus. Union officials on behalf of the facility’s employees said.

Tomás Domínguez, 51, a shop steward at the National Food and Commerce Union Local 2013, has at least 19 workers positive for coronavirus in the last two months at Innovant’s Islandia factory and warehouse, office furniture designer and maker. He said he tested it. A man has died. This is one of about 100 factory and warehouse employees, said Louis Mark Carotenuto, president of Local 2013.

According to Dominguez, 11 of those who tested positive were in the woodworking area of ​​the facility, and some of the approximately 25 employees were in the shipping department.

Innovant isn’t enough to isolate employees who were in contact with employees who tested positive, he said.

“The company tells you not to come to work if you are ill,” Dominguez said in Spanish. “The problem is some people [with the coronavirus] There are no symptoms. “

Scientists say that even asymptomatic people can spread the virus to others.

Innovative officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Officials said the Suffolk County Health Department is investigating cases, as well as all positive cases.

Francine Streich, field director at Brooklyn-based Local 2013, said employees are only allowed leave for quarantine if the test is positive. In one example, she said four employees were tested in a car and two were positive, but the company rejected two requests that were negative in the paid quarantine. ..

It usually takes several days after an infection to test positive.

“We know that these people can’t afford to stay home for two weeks unpaid,” Carotenuto said.

He asked the company to follow the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that COVID-19 asymptomatic employees who were in close contact with infected colleagues would stay home for 14 days.

Dominguez said he had been tested for coronavirus on September 28 and worked until October 2 because he had no symptoms.He received a positive result late October 2nd and was at his home in Brentwood Isolate in room for at least 2 weeks to prevent infection of wife and 2 daughters.

He said the daughters were negative on the test and his wife, who had never been tested, had no symptoms. However, Streich said the family of other workers was positive on the test.

Carotenuto said the company was unable to professionally disinfect the workplace, despite multiple positive test results.

He said companies like Innovant need to shut down the section of the facility where it occurred. But he said, “It’s all about corporate desires, corporate desires. They don’t want to shut down. They don’t want to lose that dollar.”

Carotenuto and other worker leaders are promoting the NYHERO Act, a law that requires companies to implement safety protocols with penalties for violations.

According to union officials, the infection at Innovant was Bellport-based Quality King Distributors Inc. It happened after more than 60 of the approximately 700 members of the Bellport and Ronkonkoma warehouses and distribution centers in Bellport and Ronkonkoma tested positive from March to May.

According to Streich, the UFCW has been promoting a better safety protocol with the Quality King since May, as there are no known cases, but the lack of control means that it “spreads again as soon as it is alone.”

Quality King did not respond to the request for comment.

The UFCW called for a safety inspection of the Bellport facility for several months, but after the union filed a complaint and threatened to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, the company responded to the request, Carotenuto said.

Since last month’s inspection, Strich said there have been some improvements, including a hand sanitizer next to where workers go to work. However, there are no hand sanitizers elsewhere in the work area, the company does not disinfect the work space, and even though many workers speak little English, they post COVID-19 safety information in Spanish. Is not …

Workers fear to speak after Quality King sought to strengthen coronavirus safety measures by dismissing 12 employees who attended the rally outside business hours on October 15, Streich said. Said that.

Senator Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), a district representing many workers in both warehouses, including the Bellport distribution center, wrote a letter on May 15 and strengthened control measures for the King of Quality. She asked, but she said she didn’t respond.

In a statement on October 14, Martinez said, “Quality King has made countless phone calls, letters and letters from unions and government officials to ensure that health and safety protocols are implemented in institutions to protect workers. I’ve ignored the plea. ” The NY HERO Act will “make companies such as Quality King accountable.”

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