Ex-Trader Joe’s Worker Claims He Was Fired For Requesting More Store Safeguards Against COVID


A former worker at Dealer Joe’s on the Higher West Aspect claims to have been fired shortly after sending a letter to the grocery store’s CEO requesting improved employee protections for COVID-19.

In a letter that is since gone viral on social media, Ben Bonnema—who labored on the similar Higher West Aspect location at West 93rd Avenue and Columbus Avenue that skilled alleged cases of poor working situations all through the pandemic—wrote to CEO Dan Bane on behalf of himself and one other unidentified worker (a.okay.a. “crew mate”) this week requesting some steps the meals retailer ought to take into account in holding staff secure. He additionally questioned a few of Dealer Joe’s practices in making certain airflow is correctly exchanged as a method of minimizing any lingering coronavirus aerosols.

Bonnema, who was unavailable for an interview however describes himself as a author, rock climber, and canine lover on Twitter, cited a number of research and newspaper articles to assist varied requests to guard staff.

“Final week, the greater than a dozen scientists referred to as on the Biden administration to set higher air requirements for workplaces,” Bonnema wrote. “It’s changing into increasingly clear that aerosol particles—possible extra so than surfaces and even droplets—are a major supply of COVID transmission.”

He stated that whereas he was informed by administration that filters are steadily being switched out, he alleges that the shop’s use of MERV-7 filters don’t decontaminate aerosols successfully. In response to the U.S. Environmental Safety Company, a MERV-13 filter or increased is advisable to filter out potential COVID aerosols. Bonnema additionally requested the shop undertake a “three strikes” coverage for patrons who repeatedly flout the shop’s masks coverage.

“I used to be not too long ago shouted and sworn at by a buyer who wouldn’t put on a masks above his nostril, regardless of Mates already asking him to take action,” Bonnema claims in his letter. “He was allowed to complete his buying and take a look at.”

Bonnema ended his letter saying asking Bane to contemplate him and his co-workers’ requests.

Shortly after sending the letter, Bonnema was despatched a response saying he was terminated, reminding him of Dealer Joe’s coverage that it will probably hearth staff “at will” and “with out trigger.”

“In a latest e-mail, you recommend adopting a ‘3 strike’ coverage towards prospects and a coverage implementing the identical suggestion for each buyer with a medical situation that precludes them from sporting a masks,” the response letter reads. “These strategies aren’t in keeping with our core values.”

“Dealer Joe’s simply fired me for sending this letter to the CEO, saying I do not share the corporate values,” Bonnema wrote. “I assume advocating for a safer office is not an organization worth?”

He posted the letter on Twitter:

Former staff at Dealer Joe’s, dubbed Retailer 545, have beforehand spoken out about situations on the retailer. One worker—who had requested anonymity to talk candidly concerning the retailer’s strategy to the pandemic—informed Gothamist in November {that a} fellow crew mate practically fired for insisting they put on a masks “earlier than there was a masks mandate.” As a coronavirus circumstances crept up in November, the worker stated no less than 4 staff grew to become contaminated with COVID.

Makes an attempt at unionizing following final March have been discouraged by Bane, sending a letter to staff to name organizing a “distraction.” Within the letter Bane wrote there will probably be “ample time to take care of the union push” as soon as the return to “new regular” settles in, with staff at particular person shops capable of unionize as long as 30% of its staff “demand Dealer Joe’s maintain a union vote.”

Bonnema’s letter additionally comes as elevated advantages for retailer staff—together with an additional $2 an hour “thanks pay” and 20% retailer low cost—will expire subsequent month.

A spokesperson for Dealer Joe’s didn’t instantly return a request for remark.