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Safety, support top of mind as Molson Coors employees head back to work

Posted at 12:01 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 20:06:27-05

Monday marks the beginning of Molson Coors employees returning to work for the first time since last week's mass shooting.

The labor council which represents all of the union employees at Molson Coors said those employees can return Monday, but they won't be doing their normal work. They're simply getting readjusted to being back on the grounds with counselors on hand. This comes five days after an employee opened fire, killing five co-workers and himself on the campus.

Molson Coors is calling Monday the beginning of their healing process. The Miller Brewery welcomed some employees back to work for the first time since last Wednesday's tragic shooting.

Heather Plato doesn't work at Molson Coors but she's thinking of those who are returning to a place where they left in fear.

"It would be awful I think," she said. "I would have so much, like, just thoughts of it all. Like, you know, I just wouldn't be able to handle it."

The Milwaukee Area Labor Council said union representatives, Molson Coors managers, and Milwaukee police were on site Monday, but shift workers who start coming back Monday night won't be returning to their normal duties just yet.

"It's just an opportunity for people to go back to the site, but not be under pressure to perform their full shift today, but just more of an opportunity to come in, get some counseling if that's what they want and just to talk to other workers," said labor council president Pam Fendt.

Fendt said employees will return with a new safety plan in place which includes additional armed guards on site along with bag checks for all workers.

"Some people feel ready to go back and others, you know, feel like they need a little more time to recover," Fendt said.

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army joined several other local organizations in being a resource for employees.

Volunteers helped to host small groups and provide mental health support as employees slowly returned. Sources tell TMJ4 that volunteers are expected to remain on scene for several days as employees return to work.

On the way into work, some employees passed billboards with messages reading "MKE Strong" and "Molson Coors Family, We love you. We stand with you."

A fundraiser set up by Molson Coors to help raise money for the victim's families and survivors of the mass shooting has raised more than $720,000 and is getting close to reaching its $1 million goal.

Meanwhile, Marquette University took to Twitter Monday, inviting the entire community to a vigil at 5 p.m. at Church of the Gesu. Doors for the vigil open at 4:30 p.m.

In a statement to the media, Gavin Hattersley said:

Today is about beginning the healing process. As we welcome our Milwaukee employees back to work for the first time since Wednesday’s tragic shooting, our top priority is supporting our colleagues and ensuring they have the resources they need as we all try to make sense of what happened. We have counselors who are on site, and all employees will meet with leadership, learn more about the employee assistance resources available and spend time together as a Molson Coors family. We know it will not be easy, and everyone will grieve and cope with the events in their own ways, but we are committed to doing anything we can to support our Milwaukee family as we begin to heal and slowly return to work.

Normal brewery operations are slated to return on Wednesday, but Molson Coors said employees who don't feel comfortable returning then won't have to.

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