UFCW 1518 statement on a COVID-19 outbreak at United Poultry Ltd.

Yesterday, we learned about an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at United Poultry Ltd. in Vancouver.

The health authority was alerted to the possibility of COVID-19 cases at United after a worker tested positive over the weekend, and reported that there may be other workers at the plant who are sick.

On Monday, Vancouver Coastal Health tested workers at United and closed the plant immediately. More than two dozen workers tested positive.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the workers who have tested positive and their families,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “We wish them a full recovery.”

While there is no union representing the workers at United, UFCW 1518 is calling on the employer to follow all recommendations of the public health office. We are also calling on them to compensate those workers who have been exposed at work for the time they are required to isolate.

UFCW 1518 represents workers at industrial food processing plants throughout British Columbia. At the poultry processing plants that UFCW 1518 represents, the union has worked closely with health and safety committees to ensure there is increased physical distancing between workers, increased sanitation practices, and time off for any employee who is sick.

UFCW 1518 would like to thank the provincial government for acting so quickly to protect the workers’ safety at the United plant. Without taking swift action, the spread of COVID-19 increases exponentially and no worker should be at risk to keep the business running through an outbreak.

In other areas of the country, we have seen extreme COVID-19 outbreaks in food processing plants. All levels of government must be involved, and employers must do their part to keep workers safe so the food supply lines can keep running.