Greetings from the Co-op. Like so many across our community and country, the Co-op is being impacted by COVID-19 in new ways this month. So far, we have had seven employees report testing positive since the start of the omicron wave. I am grateful to hear that everyone is stable or has recovered. Whenever we learn of a new case, we conduct contact tracing and go over our return-to-work guidelines (based on the Department of Health guidance) with everyone impacted. Thanks to our safety measures, we do not believe there has been any spread of the disease within the Co-op. You can monitor employee cases through the dashboard we created.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Co-op has put enormous effort into understanding and responding to COVID-19, doing our best to operate safely and meet the needs of our members, employees and local vendors. Since COVID-19 vaccines were first shown to be safe and effective, the Co-op has advocated for employees to get vaccinated. We understand that vaccination is an essential tool in reducing the spread and severity of COVID-19 and that it offers us the best long-term protection individually and collectively.
Despite our efforts to encourage vaccination, we do have employees who are opposed to being vaccinated. We do not know exactly how many; it could be 10% of our 180+ employees. At this point, I do not believe there is anything we can do to persuade them to be vaccinated voluntarily.
Until last week’s Supreme Court ruling, the Co-op had been preparing to comply with the OSHA rule that larger employers require their employees to be fully vaccinated or submit weekly negative COVID-19 tests. The ruling effectively blocked the rule from ever being implemented. Our co-op could voluntarily adopt a vaccination policy in partnership with our employees’ union. Currently, there is not a consensus within the union about moving forward with our own policy. The Co-op’s senior managers and union leaders will continue to meet weekly as part of our COVID-19 response efforts.
The Co-op will continue to do our best to maintain a safe and sustainable shopping and working environment for our many shoppers, employees and local vendors. We will continue to require masking, and we will provide N95s to employees as soon as our order arrives. Our Curbside Pick-Up program offers a safe and reasonable option for customers who judge the risk of shopping indoors to be too great at this time. Let’s continue to practice patience and kindness with our fellow community members during this challenging time.
Thank you for supporting our co-op.
Kari Bradley, General Manager