PITTSBURGH — One day after our 11 investigates report on COVID-19 safety concerns at the North Pittsburgh FedEx station in Zelienople, workers tell us steps are already being taken to address some of the issues raised.
“It seems like almost overnight, since the story aired -- now we have masks, now we have sanitizer,” said FedEx Ground dispatcher Lisa Salicrup, who came forward to blow the whistle. “They refilled all the mask stations when you come in through security guard. They have all the masks there before you go through.”
Salicrup is glad to finally see a response to her concern, because she says she’s been complaining about them for months.
“Why weren’t they doing this earlier?” she asked. “I spoke to not only my station managers, I went above to the regional manager, the district manager, the district human resources manager, and it was just getting the run around,” she said.
Finally, Salicrup decided to turn to 11 Investigates for help. She sent pictures to show some of her concerns at the North Pitt FedEx station, including employees not wearing masks, food left out in the breakroom for everyone to touch, and sanitization stations-- which are supposed to be filled with masks and sanitizer—left empty.
“I wish they would have taken action sooner, but I am glad things are changing for now,” she said, after seeing supplies replenished today.
More workers come forward
After our 11 investigates report first aired, we got several messages from other current and former FedEx workers echoing Salicrup’s concerns.
One current employee, who asked to remain anonymous, fearing he could lose his job, said in an email, “No one wears masks. Period. The managers dont (sic) wear any. When others are in close contact, they dont (sic) wear masks. Security doesn’t wear masks. It’s awful.”
That employee was also concerned about cross contamination in the breakroom, with food frequently left out for all to touch.
“No tongs, no gloves, not prepackaged. Nothing. Just exposed to the air, to be able to be coughed on,” he wrote.
Salicrup says she is overwhelmed and grateful for the positive support from other FedEx workers.
“I got a lot of messages from people I never even met at the station,” she said. “They were, like ‘Hey, I saw you on the news, and I just wanted to say thank you for standing up and saying something for us.”
FedEx taking concerns seriously
FedEx Ground spokesperson Meredith Miller sent 11 investigates a follow up statement today saying:
“Thank you for providing the photos. The health and safety of our team members continues to be FedEx Ground’s top priority, and we take these concerns very seriously. We have shared the photos with the responsible groups for follow-up as appropriate. Our corporate safety team continues to work with management at the facility to ensure supplies are maintained and that health and safety protocols are followed as required.”
Salicrup says she was afraid to come forward, but decided to do it because she was so concerned for her health, because she has asthma, and that of her coworkers and customers.
“It is scary because it’s a big company, and I don’t want them to retaliate against me for whistleblowing.”
She says she was desperate due to the lack of response by the company, especially with the recent COVID surge and learning through the grape vine that some co-workers recently tested positive.
Employees call for more transparency
Salicrup says she was never notified about positive COVID cases in the FedEx North Pitt building, even though she’s learned of several.
“People are testing positive and the company is trying to keep it on the down low,” she said. “Three to four package handlers tested positive and two admins up front, that I know of. The biggest thing I’m hoping for is more communication when someone tests positive.”
FedEx told 11 Investigates in a statement:
“When there is a confirmed case in one of our facilities, we take all necessary precautions and follow guidance from public health organizations related to reporting and containment of the virus, which includes verbally informing team members, service providers and vendors in the building.”
But Salicrup says no managers informed her of any positive cases, and both former and current employees who contacted 11 Investigates said they were not told, either.
In response to a follow up question from 11 Investigates asking whether employees should be notified by additional means, like email to all, since some say they are not being told, FedEx said in an email:
“We use a variety of channels to communicate with our more than 200,000 FedEx Ground team members depending on their access and job function. Particularly when discussing COVID-19, face to face communications are an effective way to allow managers to respond to immediate questions and concerns from team members.”