Recommendations for Addressing COVID-19 at 1543
Hello Stephen and Meghan,
I hope that you and all of the staff at Superstore 1543 Liquor Store 1643 are well. Many folks are understandably anxious and a bit scared. We are entering the busy retail season and Alberta is under a state of public health emergency. Superstore and Liquor Store workers continue to be on the frontlines, serving the public as the number COVID positive cases in the Province are surging on a daily basis.
In the spirit of cooperation and a harmonious relations between the Union and the Company, I am requesting an immediate meeting of the Joint Health and Safety Committee at 1543/1643 to address the following list of questions and concerns regarding the pandemic in light of the recent restrictions announced by the Provincial Government, subject to any union proposals at collective bargaining:
- According to public health Order 39-2020, issued November 27, 2020 (https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/2989fb37-80c8-4fcd-acb1-aa07121c9db7/resource/3eede813-b609-4a48-a08b-738eeb685c6f/download/health-cmoh-record-of-decision-cmoh-order-39-2020.pdf), a business must limit persons to 25% of the total operational occupant load as determined in accordance with the Alberta Fire Code. What is the total operation occupant limit at 1543 and 1643, respectively, and what is the Company’s own maximum limit? Also; how is the Employer keeping track of number of customers in the store? This task should not fall to any member of the bargaining unit. For example: a security guard could be used to count customers. Similarly, how is the Company dealing with social distancing in the store? As a further recommendation: there should be frequent announcements over the intercom to remind customers to wear a mask, socially distance, use hand sanitizer.
- How does the Company plan to direct the flow of customers to open lanes and enforce proper distancing? For example: Costco and other stores have one line, which moves quickly when people are directed to open lanes. Lineups can be crazy, with customers lined up down the aisles.
- Effective November 24, masks are mandatory in all indoor workplaces in the Calgary and Edmonton areas (https://www.alberta.ca/masks.aspx). This is in addition toa City Calgary bylaw that was enacted August 1, 2020 (https://www.calgary.ca/csps/cema/covid19/safety/covid-19-city-of-calgary-mask-bylaw.html). How is the Company enforcing these mandates in the Store? Similar to point #1, no member of the bargaining unit should be used to enforce masking.
- Please confirm the Company protocol for dealing with a customer without a mask on, or a customer not wearing a mask properly, or a customer who acts aggressively in regard to masking. No employee should be required to serve such a customer and every employee has the right to refuse service to such a customer, as per their right to refuse unsafe work under applicable legislation.
- Other retailers, such as Costco, have a ‘no mask no entry’ policy, and offer masks to customers without one. Does the Company plan to enact such a policy, post any such signage, or at least make masks available to customer who do not have them?
- Are sanitized shopping carts and baskets available for customers, as well as hand sanitizer itself (at the entrance and at customer service)?
- Public washrooms: is there a regular cleaning schedule to ensure cleanliness, along with proper supplies at all times (IE: soap, paper towels)?
- Employee lunchrooms: same as point #7, plus a request for plastic dividers at the tables, signage outside lunchroom stating a maximum number of employees allowed, and staggered breaks in all departments, along with a break schedule.
- Temperature checks: does the Company plan to implement mandatory temperature checks for customers and employees? Other retailers like T & T (also owned by Loblaws) have such a policy. Temperature checks are a minimum standard for food production facilities.
- Symptom check: my understanding is that employees have to answer screening questions at the entrance of their workplace, and supervisors must ensure that verbal communication is received from each employee prior to the start of the shift. How well is this program working at 1543/1643?
- Does the Company currently have certain times for seniors-only shopping?
- Are there any plans to bring back pandemic pay, given that the risk to employee health and safety is at an all-time with the record number of COVID numbers occurring ever day in Alberta, and the possibility that things are going to get even worse during the busy Christmas shopping season and over the winter?
- Lastly, please ensure that members of the Joint Health and Safety Committee will participate in, at a minimum, weekly “huddle” meetings to address any concerns and to ensure all measures are being taken to ensure the health and safety of the employees.
Please let me know as soon as possible when a meeting of the JHSC can be arranged, with as many members of the Committee in attendance as possible, as I plan to attend.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, or if you require any further information.
I thank you for your time and attention to this matter and I await your urgent reply.
Jeff Ible, Union Labour Relations Officer