FARGO — About 70 employees of a Fargo food distribution business went on strike Wednesday, Nov. 18, calling for resumption of union contract talks and drawing attention to what a union spokesman described as "lackadaisical" COVID-19 precautions at the site.

About 20 warehouse workers and truck drivers set up picket lines outside of Cash-Wa Distributing, at 4101 15th Ave. N., Fargo around 1 p.m. Wednesday amid union concerns that the warehouse could contribute to the spread of COVID-19 because of its ties to businesses and warehouses across the region, according to Brian Nowak, business agent for the Teamsters Local 120.

Cash-Wa in Fargo is part of a multi-state network serving locations across the region, including restaurants, hospitals, convenience stores and schools. The company has distribution centers in Fargo, Aberdeen, S.D., and Kearney, Neb., and a presence in 11 states across the Great Plains, according to its website.

According to Nowak, Cash-Wa's Fargo distribution center does not follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines on COVID-19, including those on social distancing.

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"They're lackadaisical on hand sanitizer, distributing face masks. They're not taking temperature checks when customers and employees come in the building," Nowak said.

"This is a concern that affects our community," Nowak added, explaining there was a potential for any infection at the company to possibly spread to customers, either through drivers or client visits.

"If somebody is contagious here and they go out and deliver a product, it could, in effect, shut down a complete restaurant if the cook gets sick," Nowak said.

In addition to trying to raise awareness about COVID-19 safety, the 70 union members on strike at the Fargo location also hope to bring the company back to the bargaining table in order to negotiate a new contract, according to Nowak.

He said union members have been working under the terms of the old contract since it expired at the end of August.

A message left with Nebraska-based Cash-Wa was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.