UPS union members hold rally at Warwick hub

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Some members of a Rhode Island UPS union rallied Thursday morning outside the company’s hub in Warwick.

The goal was to raise concerns about working conditions there, which a UPS spokesperson says are unfounded.

Teamsters Local 251 business agent Matthew Maini claims the hub, which employs more than 1,800 workers, is no longer following COVID-19 safety protocols.

He claims the hub was not providing hand sanitizer or masks, and have not been cleaning or disinfecting bathrooms, vehicles, or other common areas.

“We feel that UPS should do the right thing and keep their employees safe,” Maini told 12 News earlier this week.

In a statement provided to 12 News earlier this week, UPS spokesperson Matthew O’Connor pushed back against the claims, saying the health and wellness of their employees is especially important to the company and that “UPS continues to provide our employees with PPE, clean and disinfect our facilities and vehicles, and follow the CDC guidelines.”

O’Connor also provided a list of additional safety measures to protect UPS employees:

  • Communication: 
    • We continue to communicate often and regularly with our employees about the recommended behaviors to manage health risks.
  • Hygiene protocols and social distancing: 
    • We are continuously sharing the hygiene protocols suggested by the CDC and WHO with all employees.
    • The company has modified, and will continue to modify, our normal operating procedures to maintain social distance protocols. For example, we have added space between work stations inside our facilities and suspended requiring customers to sign for “signature required” packages.
    • We have also modified other protocols involving site access, gatherings of employees, and public interaction at service counters.
  • Signs of illness: 
    • If any employee experiences symptoms such as fever or respiratory infection, they are required to seek medical treatment. We do not want them to come to work if they are sick.
    • UPS will provide up to 10 days of compensation for any employee who is diagnosed with the virus, or who is required to quarantine, or if a household member is diagnosed with the virus and the employee is required to quarantine.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting our facilities and equipment:  
    • We have substantially increased cleaning and disinfecting surfaces throughout our facilities.
    • Our vehicles and equipment are cleaned and disinfected daily with an emphasis on the interiors and frequent exterior touch points, and we are providing our employees with supplies so they can wipe down their work surfaces and vehicles throughout the day.  
  • PPE materials: 
    • We have distributed protective equipment to employees and we are regularly replenishing supplies at our facilities. This includes hand soap, hand sanitizer, wipes, and other bleach disinfecting solutions in place.
    • UPS requires that our employees wear masks or face coverings in our operations and when interacting with the public. We are making masks and disposable gloves available to our employees with the guidelines to properly use them. We follow all government directives that require the use of masks or face coverings.

Maini told 12 News the union filed a complaint with the R.I. Department of Business Regulation (DBR). A spokesperson there said the facility had seven inspections and no violations were issued.

The union also filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), according to Maini.

According to an OSHA spokesperson, the investigation is active and the agency has “contacted the company, obtaining information on what steps the company is taking to address the complaint issues.”

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