Update on Morton Williams Safety Conditions and OSHA Findings

On August 5, 2017 Local 342 Union Representatives discovered unsanitary, unsafe and unhealthy conditions at the Morton Williams Supermarket #787 at 2467 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, where Local 342 represents the meat department workers.

Representatives had captured evidence of mold on the walls and ceilings of the back rooms and meat department, the bodies of dead flies filling the head light fixtures that hang over food prep areas, broken tables and band saws for meat cutting, a freezer with no handle to open from the inside, raw food displayed over pre-cooked ready-to-eat foods, dirty and unsafe flooring, and filthy, unsanitary bathrooms for the workers and the public.

Of course, the Store Manager kicked Union Representatives out and refused to let them further check on our Members’ working conditions, so Local 342 began conducting a job action in front of the store and immediately performed safety inspections at all other Morton Williams stores with Local 342 Meat Departments which turned up no serious concerns. On August 7, the Local 342 Safety Department filed a Safety and Health Complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and requested an inspection.

OSHA found merit to all of Local 342’s complaints and conducted an inspection immediately. The inspector found and issued citations for several serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act which require the Company to pay stiff fines and to fix all the violations according to Department of Labor safety standards within 15 days.

The Local 342 Safety Department has already re-checked the Jerome Avenue store and found that many of the violations have already been addressed but the Company has requested an informal conference in September to contest the citations which included all of the following:  

  1. OSHA inspectors found that Employees in the produce/vegetables area were exposed to tripping hazards while walking in close proximity to a 6-inch deep unprotected floor hole that was 16 inches long x 15 inches wide.
  2. OSHA inspectors found in the Receiving Area that the emergency exit route leading from the basement up the stairwell was obstructed by numerous boxes of merchandise/supplies and boxes full of empty glass bottles for recycling, which reduced the width of the route below 28 ” down to 15″, 16″ and 18″ inches at several points.
  3. OSHA inspectors found the cardboard baler to pose a danger to Employees because the guarding device was partially damaged.
  4. OSHA inspectors found that the floor of every workroom was not maintained in a clean and dry condition. They also found that the walkway and steps leading to the women’s bathroom were wet due to water leaking from the ceiling.
  5. OSHA inspectors found that the concrete step leading to the women’s bathroom was broken and not maintained in a safe condition.
  6. OSHA inspectors found that ALL places of employment, passageways, storerooms, service rooms and walking-working surfaces were not kept clean, orderly and in sanitary condition.
  7. OSHA inspectors found the storage room next to women’s bathroom had visible mold on a wall and the ceiling.

The Company is expected to pay fines to OSHA up to $24,000.00 for not providing a safe and healthy work environment as guaranteed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the RBG Company (Morton Williams) and Local 342. Your Union Representatives will continue to work with your Local 342 Safety Department to ensure your contract is followed by this Company.

All Local 342 Members who experience unsafe and/or unsanitary conditions in the store where you work should call your Local 342 Area Office, the Local 342 Safety Department hotline at 877-673-2528, or submit a Tell Us so Representatives can address the issues with your Company and ensure your contractual right to a safe and healthy work environment. 

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