AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP — United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 880 workers walked off the job Friday morning in a dispute over safety and pay issues at Save A Lot related to the company’s COVID-19 policies, said union secretary-treasurer Barb Caruso.
Caruso said workers are paid on the basis of their productivity using a running 12-week average, but if a worker misses time due to COVID-19 or because of quarantine, their lower productivity is counted against them when calculating their wage.
“The result is workers lose up to $9 an hour or $360 a week,” she said.
Workers also want another pandemic bonus like one paid earlier in the year.
“The calls of the workers for a reinstatement of the bonus has fallen on deaf ears,” Caruso said.
Caruso said with some workers testing positive for COVID-19 and others in quarantine, the workload for those on-site has grown.
“It is a double whammy and they blew us off,” she said.
Caruso said the intention is the walk out would be only Friday if the two specific COVID-19 issues can be addressed. She said the union has been seeking to negotiate the its first contract at the facility for more than a year.
Shawn Williams, a member of the local negotiating team, said it was a one-day strike. He said negotiations are continuing for a full contract, but a de-certification of the union vote is also underway.
Williams said the ballots have been sent out and must be returned by workers by Dec. 9.
The union representation was created in October of 2019 by a vote of 69-41, according to union leadership at the time.
A company official at Save A Lot declined to comment on the walk out.