Collage of Local 853 members

Essential workers keep working through pandemic, but nearly 20% of membership is not

When the pandemic struck in March, the entire economy came to a screeching halt. Travel, hospitality, sports and the arts were the first to shutter. But it was clear that not everything could stop. People needed food, health care, and a variety of services and somebody needed to do that work. Often, those somebodies were Teamsters.

Our members working in package and non-restaurant food delivery were working overtime. Retail, like Costco, was booming. Construction was deemed essential as well. And of course, if our members are working, the Local’s Business Reps have to be working, too.

On the downside, we predict that as many as 20% of our members have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Our members working in the concession and sporting industry for the Warriors, A’s, and Giants have been out of work for the entire year. School bus drivers aren’t driving, and only a few of the tech bus drivers have regular work. Those who service the travel and hospitality industry, like laundry workers and those in parking lots and car rental agencies are mostly not working either.   

Hopefully, the vaccines that have been produced in record time will start getting distributed—first to health care workers and those in nursing homes who have been the hardest hit, and soon after, they’ll be available to essential workers. Unfortunately, it may be a long winter before that distribution happens.

Whether you’re working or not, we hope that all members will continue to be safe and follow the guidelines to stay that way: wear masks or face coverings; stay six feet apart from others where possible, and don’t gather indoors with people NOT from your own household.

If you think you have symptoms, get tested immediately. If you learn that you were in contact with someone who has symptoms or a positive test, get your own test, and isolate yourself immediately until you find out the results.

Currently, California and federal law ensures that your employer must cover your salary for up to two weeks if you have had a positive test, if you’ve been ordered by a doctor to isolate or quarantine, or if you are waiting at home for a test result. If you have questions about whether you should expect to get COVID-related pay, contact your business rep.

Author: Local 853

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