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America’s Largest Food & Retail Union, 100 Health Experts Call For Mask Mandates in All 50 States to Combat COVID-19

UFCW Press Releases -

In Full-Page New York Times Ad, UFCW and Top Health Experts Call for Mask Mandates Nationwide to Protect Workers and Shoppers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union representing 1.3 million workers, joined over 100 health experts in a new call to enact public mask mandates in all 50 states to combat the spread of COVID-19 as infections pass 3 million and both shoppers and frontline workers continue to be at risk. 

In a full-page advertisement in the New York Times set to run in this Sunday’s print edition, UFCW and a coalition of health experts call on elected officials for immediate action to make masks mandatory in public spaces in all 50 states. A new report shows the majority of governors have failed to enact public mask mandates. 

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement: 

“As COVID-19 spikes across the country continue to put America’s frontline workers at risk, it is time for governors, members of Congress, and the Trump Administration to step up and make public mask mandates the law in all 50 states.  

“In every grocery store in America, frontline workers are continuing to put themselves in harm’s way to make sure our families have the food we need. Without immediate action, these brave workers will continue to get sick and die. The science is clear – masks are the most powerful tool we have to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep both workers and shoppers safe.  

“With governors in the majority of states refusing to make masks mandatory, millions of Americans are needlessly being put in danger every day. It’s time for elected leaders to pull their heads out of the sand and make masks mandatory in all 50 states to protect these brave workers and the millions of families they serve.”  

In addition to UFCW, the open letter to elected leaders is signed by over 100 health experts from the World Economic Forum; MIT; Harvard; Stanford; Yale; the National Academy of Sciences, and many other leading organizations.

“Research suggests that over 200,000 American COVID-19 cases have already been averted thanks to the mask requirements covering much of the US, and it is estimated that requirements in the rest of the country could add over $1 trillion dollars to the US GDP,” said Jeremy Howard, a Distinguished Research Scientist at the University of San Francisco who was a co-organizing signatory to the letter.

Background: 

The New York Times ad can be viewed here, and the text is included below:

We have an urgent message about some critical new scientific research. It strongly suggests that requiring fabric mask use in public places could be amongst the most powerful tools to stop the community spread of COVID-19.

An international cross-disciplinary review of the scientific research by 19 experts and other recent research shows that:  

  • People are most infectious in the initial period of infection, when it is common to have few or no symptoms
  • Cloth masks obstruct a high portion of the droplets from the mouth and nose that spread the virus
  • Non-medical masks have been effective in reducing transmission of coronavirus
  • Cloth masks can be washed in soapy water and re-used
  • Places and time periods where mask usage is required or widespread have been shown to substantially lower community transmission
  • Public mask wearing is most effective at stopping spread of the virus when the vast majority of the public uses masks
  • Laws appear to be highly effective at increasing compliance and slowing or stopping the spread of COVID-19 

The preponderance of evidence, in both laboratory and clinical settings, indicates that mask wearing reduces the transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected droplets. The decreased transmissibility could substantially reduce the death toll, other harms to public health, job losses and economic losses. The cost of such masks is very low by comparison.  

Modeling suggests that widespread public mask use, in conjunction with other measures, could bring the effective reproduction number (R) beneath 1.0, thus halting the growth of the pandemic.  

Therefore, we ask that government officials require cloth masks to be worn in all public places, such as stores, transportation systems, and public buildings as soon as possible. This action will prevent people who are infectious from unknowingly spreading the disease.  

We also ask business leaders who offer products and services to the public to require their employees and customers to wear masks whether or not it is required by local law. This vital step will help protect workers and customers. 

Such requirements will greatly increase the rate of mask wearing. This should be done in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, hand hygiene, physical distancing, testing, and contact tracing strategies.  

This requirement should be introduced alongside clear guidelines for the production, use and sanitization or re-use of face masks. We urge you to also consider their distribution as shortages allow.  

There is no need to wait for availability of medical-grade masks; any face covering, including a piece of cloth, a scarf, bandana, t-shirt, or paper towel, appears to be effective. 

 Go to www.masks4all.co to learn more.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.

 

Grocery heads fail grocery workers, again

Unifor -

TORONTO - Today the heads of Canada’s largest grocery store chains faced sharp questions from MPs about their treatment of frontline workers during the pandemic, but industry must make lasting changes to correct declining working conditions in the retail sector.

“It’s not that complicated. Workers are supporting these grocery chains through a pandemic that still isn’t over,” Dias said.

“As President of Loblaw, Sarah Davis took home $6.7 million and her company is making record profits. To see her sit there and talk about how much she respects the workers, but then cut their pay, it’s disgusting. Retail workers deserve better, and Canadians expect better.”

Today’s appearance before the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology was a chance for the heads of Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys to show true respect for their workers, and admit they were wrong to cut pandemic pay last month, Dias said.

“What we got instead was highly-paid grocery executives insisting they did not collude, and then going on to say – remarkably – virtually the same thing over and over again,” Dias said.

“The executive all admitted to exchanging `courtesy emails’ and `courtesy calls’ on pandemic pay, and yet insist there was no collusion. I look forward to the committee’s ruling on that.”

With strike votes beginning Monday at Loblaw-owned Dominion stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, Dias pledged to take the fight for good grocery jobs to the bargaining table.

“The fact is, good jobs build strong communities. We will stand up for good full-time jobs and pay rates that recognize the vital role these workers play in our communities,” Dias said.
Lawn signs are being delivered and put up across Newfoundland and Labrador in support of Dominion workers as they prepare for strike votes and a return to the bargaining table.

Dias appeared before the same committee Monday with Local 597 President Carolyn Wrice and Local 414 President Gord Currie. All three encouraged the committee to recommend a more sweeping study of declining working conditions in the retail industry.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 20,000 in the retail and wholesale sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange interviews via Skype, FaceTime or Zoom, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw: stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).

Unifor meets with Minister Garneau to review air transportation sector priorities

Unifor -

TORONTO—Unifor leadership representing air transportation workers met with federal Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau and representatives from his office today via videoconference to discuss the importance of ensuring the airline industry is able to weather the storm until Canada is able to return to successful travel and tourism after COVID-19.

“Unifor is a union for air transportation workers. Keeping the industry healthy is a priority during this unprecedented crisis,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Governments must listen to the voices of airline workers, remain vigilant and continue relying on science-based health and safety guidelines as a roadmap to economic recovery.”

Unifor members presented Garneau with a policy paper containing several recommendations to preserve and support the industry where travel restrictions remain in place, and lift travel restrictions where it is safe to do so. Unifor is recommending the development of a national aviation plan, an industry specific corporate support package, adjustments to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and a national plan for a return to travel that prioritizes health and safety protocols.

Unifor works with many employers in the travel and tourism industry including hotels, airlines, and airports to implement health and safety protocols that will increase the safety of workers and the travelling public. These protocols include: ensuring workers have access to appropriate PPE, enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures, appropriate social and physical distancing measures, the development of a pandemic response plan, and much more.

Unifor leadership on the call included National President Jerry Dias, Local 2002 president Euila Leonard, Sunwing Pilots Local 7378 president Barret Arman, Air Traffic Controllers Local 5454 executive vice president Doug Best, Air Traffic Specialists Local 2245 president Elizabeth O’Hurley, and Local 2002 Bargaining Committee chair Frances Galambosy,

Unifor represents more than 16,500 workers in the Canadian air transportation sector, including pilots, customer service representatives, air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, aircraft mechanics, airport workers, and flight attendants.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

As COVID-19 Threatens America’s Food Supply Chain, UFCW Calls on Congress to Prioritize Safety by Slowing Production Speeds in Meatpacking Plants

UFCW Press Releases -

Union for 250,000 Workers in Meatpacking and Food Processing Calls for Slower Line Speeds, Safer Workplaces for Essential Workers Endangered by COVID-19 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents more than 250,000 workers in food processing and meatpacking plants, announced its support for the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act, introduced by U.S. Representatives Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), and Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), which would impose safe line speed limits at meatpacking plants to ensure worker safety and social distancing. This comes at a critical moment for the U.S. food supply chain as COVID-19 continues to impact meatpacking plants and workers across the country.  

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:  

“America’s meatpacking workers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic since day one, putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure our families have the food we need. As COVID-19 continues to put our country’s meatpacking workers at risk, we must take action to reduce line speeds in these plants to ensure workers can maintain social distancing and stay safe on the job.  

“This bill is a critical step to reining in the dangerously fast line speeds at so many meatpacking plants and will put the safety of workers and our country’s food supply first. Congress must pass this vital legislation immediately.”  

Congressional Leaders for Worker Safety  

Keeping frontline workers safe at meatpacking plants, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a key priority for the members of Congress introducing this legislation.  

“The meat and poultry processing industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with infection hotspots appearing in plants across the country,” said U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge (OH-11).  “Fast line speeds make the dangerous conditions workers at these plants already face even worse by packing them closer together and placing them at greater risk of contracting or spreading the virus.  Waiving limits on processing speeds also threatens the safety of our food supply.  As COVID-19 cases continue to soar at processing plants, we must prioritize worker, food, and animal safety over increased production and profits.”  

“For years, USDA has been complicit in the consolidation of the meat processing industry by gifting linespeed waivers to corporate meatpackers at the expense of worker safety, the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers, and the safety of the nation’s meat supply,” said U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-03). “The high-profile COVID-19 outbreaks at meat packing plants have raised questions of the safety of the conditions inside these plants. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, these workers experienced injuries at a higher rate than comparable occupations. And now, faster linespeeds make it impossible for workers to practice social distancing and to comply with safety guidelines. That is why I am proud to join the leadership shown by Rep. Fudge in introducing this legislation that will reign in these reckless linespeed waivers for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.” 

“It is imperative that we ensure worker safety on slaughter lines,” said U.S. Representative Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02). “Safety can not be exchanged for high production. During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, we should take the necessary precautions to ensure employees are sare while working at meat and  poultry establishments.” 

Background 

UFCW recently announced that in the first 100 days of COVID-19, there have already been 238 worker deaths and nearly 29,000 workers infected or exposed among its members in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, healthcare facilities, and other essential businesses. This includes 93 worker deaths in the meatpacking and food processing industries. 

UFCW announced its support today for the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act to ensure safe line speed limits in meatpacking plants.  

The USDA has repeatedly attempted to remove line speed limits in pork and poultry plants, increasing the risk to both workers and food safety.   

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the country’s food supply chain, the USDA has continued to grant waivers that allow plants to run faster and endanger more workers.  

In addition to calling on Congress for action today, UFCW is continuing to pursue litigation to maintain line speed limits in pork plants nationwide and prevent companies from further jeopardizing the health and safety of the nation’s food supply chain with dangerous increases to production speeds.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

ACP program cut at RRC a blow to Paramedics, rural health care: MAHCP President

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals has the following comments on the suspension of Red River College’s Advanced Care Paramedic Program:

“The suspension of the Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) diploma program at Red River College, reported yesterday, represents yet another short-sighted cut by the Manitoba Government and yet another blow to rural health care in our province. Manitoba has been moving toward a more consistent and professional model of Emergency Response Services for years now, and we’ve made some progress, but this cut takes us in the opposite direction. It will make it even more difficult to recruit and retain paramedics with advanced skills to serve rural Manitobans in an emergency, and it’s another signal that the Manitoba Government is moving in the wrong direction on rural health care. Manitoba Paramedics and all Manitobans deserve better.

“The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals is calling on the Manitoba Government to immediately reinstate the Advanced Care Paramedic diploma program at Red River College, and to ensure that ACPs are recognized and able to work to their full scope of practice in rural Manitoba.”

– Bob Moroz, MAHCP President

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