To All Masters Gallery Foods Employees

Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

June 25, 2020

 

The following information is a combined list of all the correspondence that has been sent out from Masters Gallery Foods to date. There is no new information included in this release.

As the COVID-19 situation progresses our communication will continue to evolve to ensure you know our role in helping to keep our employees safe. As always, human safety is our primary focus.

At Masters Gallery Foods, the work we do and the products we provide are essential, and all of us play a vital role in helping to support our nation’s food supply. It can be easy for us to lose track of the importance we play in people’s everyday lives. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have stated that keeping the nation’s food supply running from farm to fork will be their primary focus.

We have an obligation to maintain our nation’s food supply and given our role in that supply chain we are fortunate to have the ability to continue to gainfully employ all of our dedicated workforce.

 

SICKNESS / EMPLOYEE PROGRAMS

 

CDC SYMPTOMS FOR COVID-19

The current CDC symptoms for COVID-19 are:

• Fever (temperature higher than 99.9 ⁰ F)

• Cough

• Shortness of breath / difficulty breathing

• Headache

• Chills

• Muscle pain

• New loss of taste or smell

• Congestion or runny nose

• Nausea

• Diarrhea

• Sore throat

• Flu-like symptoms (most of which are included above)

 

SICKNESS / REPORTING

If you, or a family member are exhibiting any of the CDC symptoms for COVID-19, do not report to work and make sure to follow normal call-in procedures.

  • We can’t stress how important this is. If you come to work when you are sick, it jeopardizes many others and the company as a whole. With COVID-19 being so contagious this is extremely important!

• Any employee who has been confirmed to have COVID-19 is highly encouraged to immediately call the Masters Gallery Pandemic Reporting Hotline at (920) 400-1800.

• In addition, if someone who is living at the same residence as you has been confirmed to have COVID-19, you are highly encouraged to immediately call the Masters Gallery Pandemic Reporting Hotline at (920) 400-1800.

• Please note that local Public Health Officials will provide the employee and Masters Gallery Foods with additional guidance on next steps if this were to occur.

 

      Guidelines for seeking care:

  • If an employee, spouse or dependent is ill with any of the CDC symptoms for COVID-19, please call Prevea at 920-892-4322 or your provider before coming in.
  • Patients should not go direct to Urgent Care and should not go to the ER (unless it is a true emergency) for testing but instead call Prevea or Urgent Care for triage and further information to determine if they meet criteria for testing.
  • Patients also have the option of using the Prevea Virtual Care portal to be triaged.  The fee for the visit will be waived, should the visit be regarding Coronavirus screening and education.  This portal can be found at www.prevea.com/VirtualCare
  • Testing is 100% covered under the Masters Gallery Health Plan.

If you have been IN CONTACT WITH someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19 or someone who has been ordered to be on a medically-ordered quarantine, contact the Masters Gallery Foods Pandemic Reporting Hotline immediately at (920) 400-1800.

If you are unable to work because of a school, childcare or adult care closure: You must use the normal call-in procedures utilizing unpaid personal time hours.  You may also choose to use vacation or other paid benefit time to supplement your pay.

If you are part of a high-risk population, you have an underlying medical condition or an immediate family member has one, or you feel uncomfortable or unsafe working, contact Human Resources to discuss utilizing unpaid personal time, taking an unpaid Leave of Absence (LOA), or other available options.

If you are not experiencing symptoms and have not been exposed, it is extremely important that you report to work as scheduled.

 

COMPENSATION FOR MEDICALLY ORDERED QUARANTINES

Any employee subject to a medically ordered quarantine will receive full pay for the 14-day quarantine period.  Medically ordered is defined as required by a healthcare provider and/or public health official and appropriate medical documentation will be required to substantiate wage continuation under this guideline.

Employees who have elected the Guardian Short-term Disability Coverage will be eligible to file a disability claim for any additional days that they are medically ordered to quarantine beyond this period.

If you are medically ordered to quarantine, you will be required to provide medical documentation to the Human Resources Department before you will be allowed to return to work.

The Human Resources Department Staff will assist any employees with this provision.

 

WAGE CONTINUATION FOR PERSONAL ILLNESSES

Any employee that has personally missed work due to exhibiting the CDC symptoms of sickness will be eligible retroactively from March 13, 2020 to receive 67% of base wages for up to 80 hours total. This benefit will start on the 25th hour of absence and employees may use vacation or other paid time off to supplement wages for the first 24 hours of scheduled work. Part-time employees are eligible and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

This provision can be used for future qualified absences starting on the 25th hour but will be capped at a maximum of 80 hours. There will be no payout of unused wage continuation days. This 80-hour allotment is a one-time benefit.

The HR Department will be responsible for monitoring this provision and will communicate the details of any available payout to those employees who have qualified. This wage continuation is in effect until further notice and is subject to change.

 

RETURN TO WORK SLIP

Employees must call the MGF Pandemic Reporting Hotline for authorization before being able to physically return to work following any COVID-19 symptom absence.  Beginning after the 3rd day of absence, employees ONLY will be required to present certification from a health care provider that he or she is able to resume work before the employee will be permitted to return to work.  Return to work slips should be faxed to 920-893-6114 or emailed to HR@mastersgalleryfoods.com. They should not be delivered in person! This return to work slip requirement does not include absences related to family members who are sick.

 

GROSS NEGLIGENCE

With the release of the State’s Safer at Home Order, employees now have the latitude to return to normal life activities (within reason) and within the guidelines provided by the Sheboygan County Department of Public Health Restart Plan (see details listed in the Pandemic Team’s 5/19/2020 alert).  As normal activity resumes, please understand that the risk of more positive cases of COVID-19 and “Community Spread” will likely increase.

Masters Gallery Foods retains the right to not extend COVID Wage Continuation privileges to any employee who is subject to a MGF-ordered quarantine due to gross negligence. For the sake of our company and the safety of our co-workers, PLEASE be diligent in your best practices and in honoring the County’s guidelines. Everybody doing their part will reduce everyone’s risk.

 

COVID-19 PREVENTION MEASURES AT WORK

 

PRACTICE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING AT WORK

Where practical, please take the time to clean work areas, before and after use. Examples of this are, wiping breakroom tables, shared working areas, desk, keyboard, mouse, etc.

In addition, our general area and office cleaning crew is stepping up their cleaning regimen in relation to COVID-19. This involves more frequent disinfecting of common area and common touch areas, like doorknobs, breakrooms, fingerprint reader, doors, etc.

 

SOCIAL INTERACTION

The latest information we have from the CDC and local health officials strongly encourages reducing potential public health risk by limiting all non-essential workplace functions.

In an overabundance of caution, we have issued the following breakroom guidance to further limit social contact (where possible) until further notice.  Breakrooms pose more of a risk for person-to-person exposure while eating due to frequent mouth to hand contact.

EMPLOYEES ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PUNCH IN AND OUT OF BREAK UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE SO AS TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF FINGER SCANS.

• In the Oostburg breakroom, please practice social distancing.

  • This can be done by sitting at separate tables. Signs mark where you are able to sit to allow for social distance.
  • You are also welcome to eat in your vehicle if you prefer. Remember to put booties on if you go outside.

• In the Plymouth breakroom, please practice social distancing.

  • This can be done by sitting at separate tables. Signs mark where you are able to sit to allow for social distance.
  • You are also welcome to eat in your vehicle or at the outside tables if you prefer. Remember to put booties on if you go outside.

• We encourage the use of Zoom or alternate technology in place of in person meetings wherever possible.

We realize that there are other areas that are business essential that may pose similar risk; however, our focus is to reduce social interaction wherever possible. If you have concerns about other areas, please do not hesitate to contact the Pandemic Team.

 

ENTRANCE CHANGES

To reduce the touchpoints in common areas and keep a more consistent traffic flow, the front office doors (to outside) will be locked from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m. This will mean that the only point of entrance during the off shifts will be the main employee entrances.

 

POTLUCKS/SHARED MEALS

We are also temporarily prohibiting potlucks, shared meals and other instances where employees are all able to eat from the same food supply (buffet type meals). These pose the risk of infecting higher numbers of employees, so this action helps reduce the risk of spreading of the virus.

 

EMPLOYEE PRE-TRAVEL NOTIFICATION PROCEDURES

In our continued effort to protect your safety and the safety of all of our employees, we are requiring all employees to notify Masters Gallery Foods of any mass transit travel (i.e. plane, bus, subway, train, ship, ferry, etc.) inside or outside of the contiguous 48 states  by contacting Tammy Flora at (920) 254-6744.  Note: Automobile or motorcycle travel is excluded from this requirement.

 

RETURN TO WORK FOLLOWING ABSENCE OR RETURN FROM TRAVEL

We are requiring all employees RETURNING from a family or personal health absence (or) planned travel outside of the contiguous 48 states by mass transit travel (i.e. plane, bus, subway, train, ship, ferry, etc.) to contact the Masters Gallery Foods Pandemic Reporting Hotline at (920) 400-1800 between the hours of 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. to receive authorization to return to work.

• Employees will not be allowed to return to work without this authorization.

• No authorizations will be provided outside of these scheduled hours.

• Employees who show up at work without authorization will be subject to corrective action.

 

VACATION PAYOUT PERIOD

In a continued effort to support a higher number of pandemic-related absences in our workforce, we have extended the vacation payout privilege to all employees with June or July anniversary dates.

This payout provides MGF the opportunity to have more people available when needed. This is an optional payout.  Please note that any employees are still welcome to use their vacation if they so choose.

Any employee who is interested in this option should contact Sue Leffin at (920) 893-9143 or sleffin@mastersgalleryfoods.com prior to the end of their anniversary year.

 

TEMPERATURE CHECKS

Masters Gallery Foods, state and local health authorities, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been communicating the need for employees to know and report increased body temperature in excess of 99.9 F.  A fever is one of many signs and symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

Masters Gallery Foods has installed temperature taking cameras at both production facilities. These cameras will illustrate body temperature from a safe distance and without physical contact.

When an employee has a temperature above 99.9⁰ F they will be asked to exit the facility, call the Masters Gallery Foods Pandemic Hot Line and have their temperature verified by a medical professional before returning to work.

 

FACIAL COVERINGS

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and our local public health officials continue to strongly promote the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Masters Gallery Foods requires all Plant and Plant Office employees to wear a face covering designed to effectively cover the mouth and nose. This requirement will remain in effect until further notice.

Please know that we do not take this decision lightly.  We fully realize some of you have welcomed this decision while others have not; however, we feel strongly that it is necessary in order to provide another layer of protection for the continued health and safety of our workforce while we continue to fulfill the essential needs of our nation’s food supply.

Employees may choose to wear their own mask, neck gaiter or neck wrap, or wear one of the options provided by Masters Gallery Foods.

A Temporary Pandemic Face Covering Policy has been prepared to provide additional guidance and answer many of the questions you may have, such as:  fogging concerns with safety glasses, fitment, comfort, claustrophobia and general expectations related to wearing a face mask.

 

BUSINESS TRAVEL

Given the contagious nature of this virus, we have limited non-essential business travel for all employees. Future business travel should be approved by the Pandemic Team by emailing the team at pandemicteam@mastersgalleryfoods.com.

 

VISITORS / CONTRACTORS

Non-essential visitors are not allowed into our facilities until further notice. If you have a visitor(s) planned and think it is business essential, please submit your request to the Pandemic Team.

Visitors and Contractors that are deemed essential to Masters Gallery Foods business shall be approved by the Pandemic Team.  These visitors and contractors will also be asked to answer health screening questions prior to entry into our facilities.  Visitors and Contractors must practice social distancing and must provide their own face coverings while on site. Pre-approval from Masters Gallery Foods is also required for any visitor or contractor using mass transit to arrive at Masters Gallery Foods facility.

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING

We know that there are some areas of our facility where maintaining a full six feet of social distancing is not possible. Due to that, we have looked for guidance from outside of our company. Below is a response from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the topic and how we are mitigating these concerns.

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How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?

To prevent spread of COVID-19, CDC is recommending individuals employ social distancing or maintaining approximately 6 feet from others, when possible. In food production/processing facilities and retail food establishments, an evaluation should be made to identify and implement operational changes that increase employee separation. However, social distancing to the full 6 feet will not be possible in some food facilities.

Workers in the food and agriculture sector fill critical and essential roles within communities. Promoting the ability of our workers within the food and agriculture industry to continue to work during periods of community restrictions, social distances, and closure orders, among others, is crucial to community continuity and community resilience. This was reinforced by DHS in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19.

The risk of an employee transmitting COVID-19 to another is dependent on distance between employees, the duration of the exposure, and the effectiveness of employee hygiene practices and sanitation. When it’s impractical for employees in these settings to maintain social distancing, effective hygiene practices should be maintained to reduce the chance of spreading the virus.

IMPORTANT: Maintaining social distancing in the absence of effective hygiene practices may not prevent the spread of this virus. Food facilities should be vigilant in their hygiene practices, including frequent and proper hand-washing and routine cleaning of all surfaces.

________________________________

Many of the changes we have put in place over the last few months have been to provide social distancing. Even with all those changes, there are some areas that we are unable to eliminate in our manufacturing process and still manufacture.

What does this mean for us?  It means that we need to be diligent in these key areas, especially where social distancing can’t be fully adhered to:

• ensuring that no one is allowed to come to work sick

• practicing good personal hygiene (proper handwashing and sanitizing)

• practicing frequent surface cleaning

• wearing mandatory facial coverings within 6 feet

 

SAFER AT HOME

On May 13, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Governor Ever’s Safer at Home Order was unconstitutional which effectively reopened the State of Wisconsin.  Each county or municipality was given the latitude to make their own rule. As you navigate your decisions, note that what is allowed can vary by city, municipality, county, etc.  *Note that this does not include K12 schools which will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

Given all the uncertainty, we wanted to clarify what this means in relation to Masters Gallery Foods.

There is no doubt that these changes will adjust what is acceptable outside of work, but it will not change the MGF controls that were implemented as part of our COVID-19 prevention plan.

Our diligence to keep our workforce healthy has proven successful so far and WE need to remain committed to our plan.

Although the order has changed, the virus has not. It is imperative that you continue to make choices that are wise, with the health and well-being of yourself and those around you in mind. Employees are reminded to not report to work if they, or members of their household, are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms. Employees should continue to use absence reporting and work release procedures to be authorized to return to work.

Where at all possible, avoid crowds, sick individuals & situations that could put you, your family and our MGF Team at risk.

As a reference below is a list of continued best practices from the State of Wisconsin:

Continue to practice good hygiene:

• Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces.

• Avoid touching your face or mask.

• Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow.

• Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.

• Strongly consider using cloth face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit.

People who feel sick must stay home:

• Do NOT go to work, school, or any other public place.

• Contact and follow the advice of your medical provider.

 

SUMMARY

We continue to monitor information from the CDC (www.cdc.gov) and local public health departments and other sources to evaluate our practices and protocols.

This is unknown territory for us as a country and as a company. As the situation continues to evolve, it is likely we will need to make changes in our response plan.  We ask for your vigilance and your attention to these matters.  Please continue to watch for updates. Your patience and understanding are valued and appreciated.

If you have questions, please reach out to the Pandemic Team.