Union members across the country are asking ABB to provide hazard pay to essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Union; United Automobile; Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW); United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE); and the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA) are calling on ABB to provide hazard pay to their four U.S. locations.
ABB's North American headquarters is located in Cary, North Carolina, and they have plant locations in Jefferson City; Crystal Springs, Mississippi; Anaheim, California; and Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
Carla Knipker, UAW Local 2379 health and safety chairperson, said the Jefferson City UAW partnered with the UE groups in Pennsylvania and California, and the IUE-CWA group in Mississippi, all of which represent ABB workers.
The three groups represent employees in different product groups of ABB in North America, Knipker said.
"We're trying to get some awareness and trying to get a better representation for our members, who have really pulled together and helped ABB as a corporation through these difficult times," Knipker said. "We're just trying to get some sort of compensation for everything that we've gone through, keeping production levels high and making sure that everyone is safe."
On Thursday, workers at all four plants were to wear "hazard pay" stickers to show their support for their unions' joint demands. Knipker said 651 employees out of about 800 at the Jefferson City plant are union members.
The stickers bring awareness to the union members, Knipker said.
"Awareness of what we're asking for, because a lot of times union activities go unnoticed by the majority of the community, and this just lets people know and lets members' families know we are working toward getting them compensation and getting something better for them."
Wearing these stickers or other union symbols present a unified front, she said, showing the union members' solidarity.
Together, the three unions sent a letter of demands to ABB management: Yoann Barbosa, CMD of ABB power grids, and Anders Hultberg, business unit managing director of ABB power grids.
The union groups are asking for employees to be compensated with a 15 percent per hour pay increase for every hour worked since Feb. 28, to be paid in weekly increments through the remainder of the second quarter of the year.
They are also asking that ABB continue to provide proper personal protective equipment to employees and follow all guidelines regarding the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Knipker, who is also a line worker at the Jefferson City ABB plant, said the employees who are working at ABB have come to her with concerns about working during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Naturally, with everything going on with the COVID-19, our members are quite concerned about the possibility of infection and taking it to their families, especially," Knipker said. "They're very happy and grateful that they have jobs but they want something else besides 'Just come in and do your job and maybe get exposed to this.' They're kind of in a Catch-22, so we're just trying to do what our members want."
While the unions only bargain for employees who are members, Knipker said, ABB has the option to give the pay to all employees.