Unsafe Business Practices Alleged at Davis Ace Hardware

By Emily Dill 

DAVIS — Davis Ace Hardware has received backlash from employees and the community via social media platforms for conducting “unsafe business practices during COVID-19.” With three employees testing positive for the virus, and many others experiencing symptoms, the store has chosen to remain open to the public. 

On Dec. 18, the first positive test was announced to staff, and in the same announcement, store management stated that they would stay open throughout the rest of the holiday season. Just three days later on Dec. 21, eleven employees called in sick for their shifts, most claiming they were experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19.

One employee communicated to management their concerns about keeping the store open. Management dismissed their concerns, as well as brushing off the fact that eleven employees called in sick. Management stated the employees were simply experiencing cold or flu symptoms. 

The employee also asked about hazard pay for front-line workers in their communication with  management. The question was dismissed because the job was taken “voluntarily.” Management said that they could relay the complaints to corporate. At this time, the employee offered to communicate directly with the corporate office about their concerns. 

The day following this discussion, the employee that brought up these concerns with management was suspended from work due to the discovery that multiple workers had signed a letter to corporate detailing their concerns and changes they would like to see. 

Strict rules were then put in place, prohibiting workers from speaking to one another. An “investigation” by management into the suspended employee is still underway, some claiming that it is an attempt to discover who else had signed the letter to corporate. 

Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), however, employees have the legal right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment, including if they feel they’re not being paid enough and wish to seek raises from their employer.

Dec. 24 marked the third COVID-19 case among Ace employees in just one month, while the store remains open with the same safety protocols that resulted in this situation. Public commenters on social media emphasize that more positive cases will be appearing among Ace workers in the following days. 

Violations of specific laws are still in debate at the moment, but the community has clearly expressed their frustration with the management of Davis Ace Hardware and demands, alongside employees, for changes to be made. The store is also still open to the public at the moment, despite the ongoing situation.

Emily Dill is a fourth year Political Science major at UC Davis, also minoring in Professional Writing and Environmental Policy.


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39 Comments

    1. Alan Miller

      Well that does no good whatsoever.  (Not blaming DV)  Unlike Facebook, Nextdoor doesn’t even let you read the content unless you are a member.  I twice tried to join Nextdoor with a fake account so I could read stuff, but they want to know personal questions I’m not willing to give.  I despise social media.

      Can anyone send the text of the discussion?  I’d like to read what’s going on.

  1. Tia Will

    Thank you for this article, Emily.

    If this reporting is accurate, the situation is even worse than is being portrayed. County and local officials have the ability to enforce tighter, but not looser, pandemic guidelines than those issued by the state. One of the factors the Board of Supervisors has considered in the past in deciding what steps to take have been the insistence by businesses pressing for loosening restrictions has been their claim that they can “open safely”. A look at our dashboards for the number of confirmed cases and deaths has demonstrated clearly that as a community we have not been “opening safely”. Davis has fared better than most of the county, but that is because of tighter adherence to the guidelines of staying home, distancing, masking, and sanitizing, not despite them.

    If this report proves accurate, I would not recommend anyone visit the store until the situation has been completely and publicly rectified. Letting one business slide is an invitation for others to do the same and a statement that neither the city nor county is taking the situation seriously.

  2. Alan Miller

    Well, I was going to go over to ACE today to get my cats a ball to play with.  Guess I’ll wait six or eight months.

    I normally dismiss any story based on social media (as so much news is these days, on all levels).  However, this is a serious situation, and in my (our) backyard.  I thought this was another Cenarios’s Pizza story (what ever happened with that?), but this effects nearly everyone in town.  Closing down ACE as implied is no minor thang, ACE is d*mn near essential.

    I’m not sure hazard pay is forthcoming, but if there really are unsafe business practices, there may be a much bigger bonus coming your way.  ACE needs to address this and fast.  For itself, for its employees, for the public.  ACE isn’t some minor optional pretty-things shop – it’s a place a good portion of Davis visits frequently.  ACE must realize the depth of a deep smear on social media can hurt them, and if there really are unsafe business practices those need to be identified and corrected.  Otherwise, like me, I’ll order that cat ball online – and maybe that bag of nails, too.

    Is that promised UCD rollout of community-wide testing available now?  If so, ACE employees should be tested there weekly until this is under control.  I hope there is frequent follow-up on this story.

  3. Tia Will

    A brief update on this issue. A contact at the county health department has confirmed that the County Public Health office is aware and has been engaged with Ace since the beginning of the week. Again, I would encourage anyone with concerns about compliance to file a concern with the County Health Department which can be done through their website.

  4. Tia Will

    Alan,

    While I agree that social media is not the correct venue through which to obtain official action, it may serve as a means to warn off those who would shop in the store before the situation is fully resolved. I am unaware of a good means to balance all the concerns of both the public and an individual business while any deficiencies are addressed.

    1. Bill Marshall

      it may serve as a means to warn off those who would shop in the store before the situation is fully resolved.

      ‘Guilty, until proven factually innocent’… interesting twist… I assume you are only referring to the Covid related things, rather than the (to me) more concerning things alleged about employees prohibited to talk with one another…

      As to the Covid protocols, I’ll not go out of my way, to avoid the business, nor, to get what I need at the business… with Hibberts gone, Davis ACE is my only choice other than Woodland or West Sac for some things I occaisionally need sooner than later… [based on price, anything that is not time-sensitive, I either do the Home Depot, or Lowes, or internet thingy ~ 90% of he time…]

      1. Tia Will

        Bill

        I assume you are only referring to the Covid related things, rather than the (to me) more concerning things alleged about employees prohibited to talk with one another…”
        Again, as previously, I would recommend asking rather than making assumptions if you are unclear about one of my posts. In this case, you are partially correct. I was referring to the COVID-related aspects which since they can end in death are in my opinion more serious than whether or not employees can talk to each other which is far less likely to end in fatalities although it might lead to legal wrangling. 

         

         

  5. Sharla Cheney

    Yolo County Health can address the health practices and protocols- i.e. allowing employees breaks for hand washing, wearing masks for both employees and customers, limiting how many people are in the store at one time, having no employee break room so people don’t gather unmasked, temperature checks or daily symptom surveys, testing 2X per week, etc.  The other issues – increased pay, workers comp or paid time off, closing of the store for 10 days, etc.  – these things  are more OSHA issues or even just Personnel issues. There needs to be some kind of follow up message on the health related issues so customers can feel safe shopping there.  Other businesses in town are dealing with their employees testing positive – sometimes because they haven’t been following social distancing guidelines outside of work. This puts others in danger – co-workers and customers.  There needs to be increased diligence in following the guidelines by everyone.

    1. Bill Marshall

      There needs to be some kind of follow up message on the health related issues so customers can feel safe shopping there.

      I feel safe shopping there… I take my safety precautions… I usually go there for a specific item, so am in the store for 5-10 minutes… not a long exposure time… there appear to be other “issues”, not physical health-related… one includes that on the non-health-related issues, no one seems to be willing to associate their name with the ‘other’ issues… ‘wisdom’?  ‘cowardice’?  ‘sloppy “reporting”‘?  But those ?’s might be considered ‘off-topic’…

       There needs to be increased diligence in following the guidelines by everyone.

      I 100% agree as to those who have ignored, given lip service to “due diligence“… but, I opine, I and our household folk have been diligent… and intend to continue that… but see no reason to ‘rachet it up’…

      But a pox (or virus) on those who aren’t doing the basics… as far as I’m concerned, those who don’t should be last in line for medical care, and be denied health insurance coverage for Covid-related care…

      1. Tia Will

        But a pox (or virus) on those who aren’t doing the basics… as far as I’m concerned, those who don’t should be last in line for medical care, and be denied health insurance coverage for Covid-related care…”

        It is fine to say this, but there is no means for enactment. ERs cannot turn away those seeking care without assessment and stabilization of any acute problem. That is the law. Not the personal preference of those of us who are following the protocols and wish everyone else would as well.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Laws can always be changed… definitely on the health insurance side… for example,  Kaiser, Blue Cross, Medicare, etc., could make changes absent federal or state law changes…

          Do you recall the term ‘logical consequences’?  Do you support anti-vaxxers?  Do you support those who flaunt the guidelines?

          No need to answer, as you seem to believe that all folk should take uber ‘protective care’, indefinitely, and those who don’t should should be treated as if they had… and perhaps UBI to boot… very moral of you… I cannot disrespect that perspective, as it is quite spiritual…

          And as a logical result, in short-term and long-term some folk will be reckless, our insurance premiums will go up, those infected (who tried their best for avoidance) will wait in line like the ones who didn’t, the vaccinated will protect the anti-vaxxers, and all will be right with the world…

          Got it… in the meantime ICU’s in many areas are ‘full’… so if someone, non-Covid, has a medical emergency, requiring ICU, takes a ticket for ‘the line’ (waiting for that level of care), instead of those who flaunted guidelines, and acquired Covid… perfectly just… got it…

          Triage?

        2. Sharla Cheney

          Tia, I don’t think you are aware of what’s happening in Southern California. There are no beds available and medical staff are turning away people who are not critical. People are being treated in the parking lot or in the ambulance.  They are having to ration care and focus on those that have a likelihood of survival. My sister is in the thick of it.

          Here’s what she sent to my family right after Christmas: “ Please all be extra diligent in your safety measures right now.  The rate of infection is off the charts,  southern cal hospitals are in over capacity.  We are running low on ventilators and I do not have BiPAP and high flow equipment available for new patients.  We are scrambling for staff as they are also out with Covid infection.  The staff are carrying almost twice as much work than usual.  Please be diligent. ”

          Hospital staff are working 12-14 hour shifts, 6 days a week.  So, no, arriving at an emergency room does not guarantee full and complete care in an disaster situation.  This is why we need to be diligent.

        3. Alan Miller

          ERs cannot turn away those seeking care without assessment and stabilization of any acute problem.

          They can if things get any worse, and there are literally no staff to assess and stabilize, because they are also out with Covid-19.

  6. Tia Will

    There needs to be some kind of follow up message on the health related issues so customers can feel safe shopping there”

    Unfortunately, I would say that the point is not how safe any particular member of the public “feels” as we all have different levels of concern, some rational based on our age and health status and some irrational, as in the “feelings” of those who deny the virus altogether or have no concerns at all about it. The point is how safe the venue in reality is. If the number of employees who have caught the virus is accurate, my assessment would be, not very safe and my advice would be, hold off until this is thoroughly investigated and declared safe.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Again, concept is that all should boycott… ‘guilty until proven innocent’… got it…

      some rational based on our age and health status and some irrational, as in the “feelings” of those who deny the virus altogether or have no concerns at all about it.

      Not sure whether I’m rational or irrational by your lens… based on age, and overall health status, rationally, by your lens, I should boycott the place… I do not deny the virus exists (with apparent mutations that are more virulent, which I believe exist)… I have concerns about it (have a child who tested positive, had mild symptoms, quaranteened, then later tested negative a couple of times [lives in CO, not CA), but am comfortable following recommended protocols (masking, distancing, etc.) and if need a wrench to fix something in the next hour, I’ll go to Davis ACE to get it… me following all protocols… I am prudent, but not paranoid… guess those facts put me in your ‘irrational’ category… fine…

       

  7. Alan Miller

    … me following all protocols… I am prudent, but not paranoid…

    I’m prudent, and paranoid others are not being so prudent . . . because they are NOT.  Sometimes paranoia is just understanding that, indeed, everyone actually is out to get you.

  8. Bill Marshall

    Sidebar: admittedly off-topic… our $600/person ‘Covid relief payments’ have posted… the charities we support will be getting a “booster shot”… depending on Senate action on the House Bill, they may be getting a “second dose” in 21-28 days… we want the $$$ to go those who have truly suffered from Covid, and its ‘consequences’…

    Now, back to our regular programming…

    1. Alan Miller

      Hiram, thanks for posting this.  I don’t normally check the DE on Saturday; this is such an important story they must have posted it early.

      I think ACE may have a heapin’ helpin’ of trouble here.  This is Davis, and people don’t take well to what is being alleged here.  ACE needs to get in front of this if it isn’t true, with specifics, not just say there are false claims being made.

      And what of this “employees can’t talk to each other” business.  I thought that was fabricated, but I assume it’s true if the great Enterprise reported it.  In what form did Davis ACE convey this, and what were they told?  Does a letter exist?

      And the person who tried to send a letter to corporate being fired – after being told to talk to corporate by local management?  Not a good look.

      ACE, come clean with what’s going on here.  Davis may not have many choices, but we do have Target, the Redwood Barn & the Internet.  I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I want to hear you get in front of this and say what going on and what’s being done, or I will assume the employee story is the only truth.

  9. Dave Hart

    For tools and hardware there is also Fastenal here in Davis that almost nobody knows about.  Ordering workers not to talk to each other is by far the worst aspect of this and reveals a lot about who is in charge over there at Ace.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Fastenal appears to be just a website… like shopping getting things with Lowes, Home Depot, or Amazon on-line…

      Correct me if  I’m incorrect… if I need a replacement flapper valve for a toilet TODAY, that just doesn’t serve my needs…

      1. Alan Miller

        First time I’ve seen a website made of brick & mortar.  Appears to be on Pena.  Yeah two very weird things here:

        1) Never heard of it.

        2) First time I’ve heard of a hardware store opening in my lifetime – only news I ever hear is closures.

        Is this the Twilight Zone?

        1. Bill Marshall

          Brick and mortar, but likely a ‘dropbox’ like Amazon has @ places…  just bigger…

          I live pretty close, so will stop-by tomorrow, take a look, and report my findings…

           

        2. Alan Miller

          Fastenal, a national chain, has a store in Davis. They sell industrial and construction supplies. Fasteners, tools, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, welding, plumbing, metalworking, materials, etc. Sort of like Grainger, or McMaster-Carr (except without McMaster’s massive inventory).

          –Davis Wiki

          Also says it’s been there since 2012.  Next people will be telling me there’s a Starbucks in Davis.

        3. Alan Miller

          Ordering workers not to talk to each other is by far the worst aspect of this

          Much agree, but also no assuming what the workers are saying is the full context until I hear ACE’s side of it.  Was there a letter?  How was this worded?  Was it clearly against free speech?  Was it an attempt to stop organizing?  Did it happen at all?  I think something was said or written – but was it official store policy, an angry word by a single manager, an outright threat?  ACE, most people are going to believe the employee account on the solidarity website unless you set the record straight, i.e. give your side of the story.  So please do.  Remember, we are in a culture where an internet posting can do great harm to a store or person (CANCELED), not like years past, so get in front of this.

  10. Bill Marshall

    Was wondering why y’all would doubt me.

    Social media… didn’t doubt so much, but you didn’t respond to previous query…

    One of the few great Reagan quotes… “trust, but verify…” No harm, no foul in that…

    1. Bill Marshall

      Like Alan M, until you brought this up, I was only aware of the hardware stores that closed… that were reasonably priced, great selection, great service, great advice… one was on E-Eighth (got my first Skilsaw there, and lots of ‘fix-it’ parts for our house, built in ’68) … around where Matthews Matresses was… they closed early-mid 80’s… Hibberts… Cranstons in Woodland [fantastic for old replacement parts, funky layout, and extremely knowledgeable employees!].

      So a “new entry” in the Davis hardware/tool market was “news” to me… so, the skeptic emerges… as I said, I’ll check it out… and stand (or, sit) corrected… if wrong, will so admit… if correct, will do the ‘fist-pump’ thingy… if somewhat in-between, will share that, as well…

      Happy New Year… may you and yours be well, all levels…

    2. Dave Hart

      I have no recollection about what previous query you are referring to.  Also, I tend not to camp out on social media, so asking me a question in a forum like this is not likely to connect.  The Fastenal store is oriented to the construction trades and is equivalent to the tool and fastener isles with some of the electrical and plumbing aisles, etc.  Maybe more like a Grainger’s store in West Sac.  It’s been here for four or five years and doesn’t seem to want to advertise.  Also, the last time I went over there, they wouldn’t let customers browse the floor.  You had to submit your request and they went looking for it like an auto parts store.  But they feature my favorite Milwaukee hand tool line, so I’m partial to them.

      1. Don Shor

        They’re a very good example of a business-to-business sales tax generator, vs a retail sales tax generator. They’re very similar to an irrigation supply dealer I work with in Sacramento for my retail store. Yes, the public can buy from them, but they aren’t their primary customers at all.

      2. Bill Marshall

        Fair enough…

        But still not responsive as to the desireablility of Davis Ace (or, Lowes, or Home Depot… in the here and now…), you seemed to equate the two (Davis Ace and Fastenal) in your 12:04 post today… if interested, my query was a 12:27 post this afternoon…

        I’ll still check it out tomorrow, and report what I perceive…

        Again, best to you and yours in 2021…

         

         

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