UFCW Press Releases

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

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.

 

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

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

UFCW: Congress Must Put Workers First As Corporate Bankruptcies Driven by COVID-19 Threaten Safety of Retirement Benefits for Millions of Americans

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Lawmakers to Pass Bill to Safeguard Benefits of Workers on Frontlines of COVID-19 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses, announced its support for the Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s 16 million retail workers have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic from day one, helping ensure that our country’s families have the food and supplies they need. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on our economy and driving many retailers out of business, we must not forget these brave workers who have kept our communities running during the crisis.

“This bill protects Americans who lose their jobs when businesses declare bankruptcy, ensuring that these workers receive the pay and benefits they have earned and making clear that these workers should never have to take a back seat to CEO payouts or Wall Street profits. With this pandemic forcing thousands of Americans out of jobs every week, we must put workers and families first.”

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.

UFCW announced its support today for the Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act to safeguard the retirement security of the 1.3 million workers it represents. The bill is a response to the increase in employer bankruptcies resulting from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 and aims to protect the employee retirement benefits endangered by these bankruptcies.

The Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act will protect workers by:

  • Improving Recoveries for Employees and Retirees
  • Reducing Employees’ and Retirees’ Losses
  • Restricting Excessive Executive Compensation Programs

Click here to read full background on the legislation.   

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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

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Confirms Growing COVID-19 Impact on Frontline Workers

New Numbers Released: Over last 100 Days – 238 Frontline Worker Deaths from COVID-19, Nearly 29,000 Workers Infected or Exposed in Food and Healthcare Sectors 

With Growing Spread of COVID-19, UFCW Announces Key Priorities:

 $15 Per Hour Pay for Frontline Workers and Reinstating Hazard Pay, 

Enforcing Public Mask Mandate in Every County and State, and 

National Public Registry Requiring Companies with 1,000 Employees to Report COVID-19 Worker Exposure and Deaths

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers, held a national press conference highlighting the impact and growing danger of COVID-19 on our nation’s frontline workers. During the call, the UFCW announced that over the last 100 days, 238 UFCW frontline workers have died from COVID-19 and nearly 29,000 workers have been infected or exposed to this killer virus.

During the press call, UFCW International President Marc Perrone also announced three new initiatives in response to the growing increase of COVID-19 cases in states across the country. The initiatives to address the impact on frontline workers include: (1) Reinstating hazard pay and establishing a $15 per hour wage for all frontline workers, (2) Establishing a public mask mandate in all 50 states, and (3) Creating a new national public registry to track COVID-19 infections in frontline workers which would require companies with more than 1,000 employees to submit monthly reports on their worker deaths, infections, and exposure.

The following are excerpt of President Perrone’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

“With our country now 100 days into the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s frontline workers still face many of the same dangers they faced on day one. In grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and healthcare facilities, our country’s frontline workers are still getting sick and dying. It’s high time for America’s CEOs and elected leaders to pull their heads out of the sand and take the strong action needed to protect these brave workers and the communities they serve.

“American workers simply cannot survive with the current patchwork of safety measures taken by only a fraction of companies and states with millions still unprotected and vulnerable. We need real enforcement of the highest safety standards. Even worse, some of our nation’s biggest companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger are still keeping us in the dark and refusing to tell the American people how many of their workers have died or been exposed to COVID-19. Simply put, it is impossible to hold the government or corporate America accountable when they hide the true impact of this outbreak.

“The failure of the Trump Administration to enforce clear OSHA standards is giving giant corporations like Amazon and Walmart a free pass to ignore their responsibility to keep their workers safe and this is exactly why so many frontline workers have become exposed to this virus. There is something fundamentally wrong when the White House and Congress are spending more time trying to let companies off the hook for the health of their workers. Americans deserve better.”

Background:

In today’s report on the first 100 days of COVID-19, UFCW released the following numbers based on internal estimates from UFCW local unions across the country.

UFCW represents 1.3 million workers and among those UFCW members, 238 workers have died, and in the grocery, meatpacking, food processing, and healthcare industries, nearly 29,000 workers have been infected or exposed to COVID-19.

In grocery stores across the country, there have been at least 82 worker deaths and 11,507 workers infected or exposed. April experienced the highest single-month total for grocery worker deaths with 46 supermarket employees killed by COVID-19. May saw the grocery industry’s biggest overall spike in COVID-19 cases with 5,901 new grocery workers infected or exposed.

At meatpacking plants nationwide, there have been at least 65 worker deaths and 14,214 workers infected or exposed. April saw the biggest spike in new COVID-19 meatpacking cases with 8,632 workers infected or exposed. May was the deadliest for the industry with 38 worker deaths last month alone.

In food processing facilities, there have been at least 28 worker deaths and 3,474 workers infected or exposed. April was the deadliest month for the industry with 19 food processing worker deaths, and was also the month with the biggest spike in cases with 2,107 workers infected or exposed.

Healthcare facilities have been the frontlines from the beginning. UFCW represents over 60,000 healthcare workers across the country and has confirmed there have been at least 21 worker deaths with 11,478 workers infected or exposed. April was the deadliest month with 13 worker deaths and May saw the biggest spike in new cases with 8,554 workers infected or exposed.

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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

 

 

UFCW Statement on Juneteenth 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union, stood with the 1.3 million workers it represents in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and many other essential industries to honor the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth – which marks June 19, 1865 when slavery was officially ended in the United States.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“As millions of Americans commemorate the anniversary of Juneteenth and the end of slavery, we must also remember the racism that still plagues the lives of so many African Americans and people of color across our country today. We have not only seen this cruel injustice of racism in the murders of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many more across the country, but also in an economic system where large multi-billion corporations continue to exploit African American workers. Now, more than ever, we must say with one united voice that this must end – and that Black lives do matter.

“The simple fact is that as a nation we can no longer tolerate the hate and discrimination that has been permitted to permeate our economic and justice systems. This must end. We must embrace real and substantive change. We can no longer afford to ignore a justice system that is not equal, and we must not accept an economic system where large corporations ignore how their policies and actions negatively impact African American workers.

“Our diverse union family is committed to fighting for real change and an America where all African Americans – and people of color – are able to live a better and more just life. The time has come for all good people to commit to doing the same.”

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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 ufcw.org.

Explosion of COVID-19 Cases Nationwide Makes Clear America’s Food Retailers Must Reinstate Hazard Pay

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Top Companies Like Kroger for Action As Health Threat to Grocery Workers Continues 

WASHINGTON, DC – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores and other essential businesses, called on America’s largest supermarket chains, like Kroger, to immediately reinstate hazard pay in light of an explosion of COVID-19 cases nationwide with 10 states reporting their highest average of daily new cases since the pandemic started. 

The failure to reinstate “hazard pay,” or what Kroger called “Hero Pay,” not only ignores the continuing health and safety threat faced by America’s 3 million grocery workers, but ignores the reality that grocery workers contributed to record sales supermarket companies are experiencing, including Kroger, which just announced total sales reached $41 billion in the latest quarter, a 19 percent increase from one year ago. 

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement: 

“Across the country, America’s food retailers have ended hazard pay even as COVID-19 health risks have increased for grocery workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Even worse, multi-billion-dollar companies like Kroger are raking in record sales just weeks after cutting hazard pay for the very grocery workers who made that success possible.  

“The decision by these companies to end COVID-19 hazard pay, despite the ongoing danger, ignores the simple fact that these essential workers are still on the frontlines of a growing pandemic. As the nation’s largest grocery chain, Kroger should be a leader in the industry instead of ignoring the serious health and economic effects faced by these brave workers. 

“As long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, every grocery worker in America must receive the hazard pay they have earned for the vital work they are doing to serve our communities as the danger continues. Moreover, every company that is seeing record profits and sales should realize that these brave workers are literally putting their lives on the line to help feed this nation – and they deserve better than a pay cut from companies like Kroger.” 

Background:  

Kroger announced that sales increased 19 percent and profit increased 57 percent in the past quarter since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with total sales reaching $41 billion

In a recent national press conference, Kroger workers represented by UFCW spoke out about the company’s decision to cut the hazard pay they had received for working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In May 2020, the UFCW sent a letter to top grocery CEOs across the country condemning them for suggesting that the health risks of this pandemic have diminished, and failing to provide the pay and protections necessary given the risks that America’s grocery workers face. 

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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 ufcw.org

 

Supreme Court Upholding DACA a Victory for Millions of Hardworking Families Across America

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union, Representing 1.3 Million Workers, Calls Ruling Critical Step Toward Fixing Broken Immigration System 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food  and retail union which represents 1.3 million workers, praised the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold DACA is a powerful victory for millions of hardworking families across America who are keeping our economy running and communities strong during the coronavirus outbreak. DACA has always been about investing in these young people who are working hard to build a better life for themselves and their family.

“With so many of these young people on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic working to ensure our families have the food and supplies we need, it’s more clear than ever that we need permanent solutions that will protect these essential workers.

“Today’s DACA victory is an important step toward fixing our country’s broken immigration system, but our elected leaders – both Republicans and Democrats – must work together to find permanent bipartisan solutions that will end the uncertainty for these hardworking communities.”

Background:

UFCW is one of the leading organizations which brought a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s elimination of the program and represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, retail businesses, meatpacking plants, healthcare, and many other industries impacted by DACA.

The lawsuit, in which UFCW served as a co-plaintiff, was led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and brought against President Donald Trump, the U.S. Attorney General, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security in September 2017.

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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 ufcw.org

Facebook Censorship of Worker Efforts to Unionize Threatens Push to Strengthen Protections for Essential Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Facebook to Immediately Shut Down Feature Allowing Companies to Censor Employees 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, condemned Facebook for pushing a tool that allows companies to censor communications among their workers about unionizing. A new report details how Facebook Workplace, an intranet-style chat and office collaboration product, would enable employers to blacklist words like unionize in communications on the platform.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Facebook’s new tool allowing companies to censor workers trying to unionize is a shocking abuse of power and a dangerous threat to the ability of all workers to exercise their right to join a union.

“Whether it’s Amazon firing workers who organize protests or Whole Foods using store surveillance to track employee efforts to unionize, it is clear that giant corporations are more emboldened than ever to shut down any effort by workers to make their voices heard.

“With millions of American workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses continuing to be infected by COVID-19, there has never been a more important time to protect the right of these workers to speak out for the protections they need. Facebook must immediately shut down this dangerous new tool that censors employee efforts to unionize, and end all efforts to silence workers standing up for the better pay and protections they have earned.”

Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice calling for great accountability from technology companies like Facebook in response to efforts to stop workers from unionizing and speaking out for the protections they need on the job.

In February 2020, UFCW supported the successful effort of Instacart workers at a Mariano’s store in Skokie, Illinois to unionize and join UFCW Local 1546. These Instacart workers made history as the first workers with the company to join a union.

In December 2018, the retail branch of UFCW launched a campaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers in New York. UFCW has been a vocal critic of both Amazon and Whole Foods for the treatment of their workers.

In March 2020, UFCW called out Amazon and Whole Foods for failing to provide their workers with paid sick leave until after testing positive for COVID-19. With testing incredibly scarce, this policy has left thousands of workers across the country in limbo, putting their safety and the safety of customers at risk during the outbreak. Last year in September 2019, UFCW condemned the move by Amazon to cut healthcare coverage for part-time Whole Foods workers across the country.

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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 ufcw.org

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Congress to Protect Essential Workers As Coronavirus Deaths and Infections Increase

UFCW Calls on Republicans and Democrats to Pass Legislation to Protect and Support Frontline Workers in Grocery Stores, Meatpacking Plants, and All Essential Businesses

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is calling on Congress to immediately act to pass legislation to ensure adequate protections for essential workers’ health, safety, and financial security. In testimony to a U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, the union made clear that it is vital that America’s frontline workers and America’s food supply remain safe and are protected. Click here for full video.

The following is an excerpt of testimony from UFCW International President Marc Perrone, as prepared for delivery:

“All across this country, our healthcare, food, and retail workers are risking their health and safety to ensure that the American people have the food, supplies, and medical care they need during this crisis. Essential workers – as so many of you have called them – have earned essential protections. Jobs that face high risk, as these do in the COVID-19 world we are living in, must be provided the protections, benefits, and wages that reflect that high health risk.

“Our internal estimates have confirmed 225 of our members have tragically died and over 29,000 have been sick or been exposed. Some responsible employers like Cargill and Safeway, have done what is right. Others, including Amazon, Walmart, and even union employers like Kroger, have decided to put profits over people. The brutal reality is that far too many companies are failing to protect workers – and it is time that Democrats and Republicans step up and work together to do more.

“Millions of workers who lack access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave are facing the devastating choice between risking their own health or risking the loss of a paycheck or job. Strong, anti-retaliation protections must be in place in order to ensure that workers who feel ill, or who are suffering from COVID-19, can remain at home, in quarantine for the full period of time recommended by the CDC, until it is safe to return to work. Without these actions I can promise you that more Americans will needlessly get sick and die.”

UFCW supports legislation to compensate the families of essential workers who die as a result of COVID-19 or related complications and a cash benefit to essential workers who are hospitalized due to the novel coronavirus and recover.  In addition, UFCW supports uniform paid sick leave policies that are accessible to all to flatten the curve and prevent a second wave of infection.

Background:

Today, UFCW President Marc Perrone testified and participated in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing entitled “No Worker Left Behind: Legislation Honoring Essential Workers.”

In his testimony President Peronne called on Congress to act to protect, support and compensate essential workers by passing legislation that:

  • Compensates the families of essential workers who die as a result of COVID-19 or related complications.
  • Provides a cash benefit to essential workers who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 and recover.
  • Expands the paid sick days and paid family leave benefit that was included in the second stimulus bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201).
  • Requires companies to prioritize meatpacking and food processing for COVID-19 testing; provide PPE free of charge; and protect workers from retaliation for speaking out about safety issues.

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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 ufcw.org

Iowa Meatpacking Unions Call on Gov. Reynolds, State Leaders to Reject Bill Exempting Businesses from COVID-19 Worker Safety Requirements

Union for Thousands of Iowa Meatpacking Workers Call for Defeat of State Legislation Waiving Business Liability for Protecting Workers Threatened by Coronavirus

DES MOINES, IA — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Unions 230, 431, 617, 440, 1149, 6 and 222 – which represents approximately 15,000 Iowa meatpacking workers across the state – announced its strong opposition to new state legislation that would offer coronavirus liability waivers to irresponsible companies and allow them to ignore critical worker safety issues. 

UFCW Local Unions 230, 431, 617, 440, 1149, 6 and 222 released the following joint statement from their presidents:

“Iowa meatpacking workers across our state have been putting their lives on the line every day to ensure that our families have the food we need during this pandemic. Keeping our communities safe and food supply secure starts with protecting these brave frontline workers. 

“With Iowa meatpacking workers continuing to die and become infected by COVID-19 every week, it is shocking to see state leaders push such a dangerous bill that will allow giant companies to abandon their responsibility to keep these Iowa workers safe. This legislation is a threat not only to these workers, but to our food supply and the millions of Iowa families these workers proudly serve. Governor Reynolds and state legislators must immediately reject this corporate giveaway and put the safety of hardworking Iowa families first above all else.” 

These presidents: Steve Sines of Local 230, Bob Waters of Local 431, Gunther Anderson of Local 617, Leo Kanne of Local 440, Roger Kail of Local 1149,  and Don Von Bank of Local 6 together represent tens of thousands of Iowa workers. 

“For 31 years, I’ve proudly worked in Marshalltown to help families across Iowa put food on the table. This has always been a good job that’s helped me support my family, but with the coronavirus outbreak, I worry every day about getting sick. The last thing we need is a law that gives companies a free pass to ignore safety at a time when we need the strongest worker protections possible,” said Sherry Hart, a member of Local 1149 who works at JBS. “Our leaders should be standing up for Iowa meatpacking workers, not covering for big companies that fail to keep their employees from getting sick.”

“As long as Iowa meatpacking workers like me are getting sick and coronavirus continues to put us at risk, our leaders should be focused on keeping us and our communities safe. I was shocked when I heard that Governor Reynolds is considering letting companies off the hook for protecting workers,” said Memori Cleveland, a member of Local 222 who works at Seaboard Triumph in Sioux City. “In a crisis like this, our families deserve better.”

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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.

 

American Farmers, Ranchers and Food Workers Call for Better Worker Protections at Meatpacking Plants to Stop COVID-19 Outbreaks and Protect Food Supply

Diverse Group Makes Urgent Call on Trump Administration to Take Immediate Safety Steps to Prevent Ongoing Spread of COVID-19

Union Announces New Numbers: At Least 44 Meatpacking Worker Deaths and Over 3,000 Meatpacking Workers Testing Positive for COVID-19

SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents over 250,000 workers in meatpacking and food processing, joined with a diverse group of American farmers and ranchers from Dakota Rural Action (DRA), Northern Plains Resource Council, Western Colorado Alliance, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) to call on meatpacking companies, the Trump Administration, as well as state and local governments, to take immediate and stronger steps to protect frontline meatpacking workers and our food supply from the deadly COVID-19 virus.

“The best way to protect our food supply is to protect the people who work within it,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “From frontline food processing workers to farmers and ranchers, we are all critical to keeping American families fed during this crisis. Enacting strong worker safety standards inside meatpacking plants will help people outside of them as well and ensure every link in our food supply chain is secure.”

The broad coalition which came together to protect workers and the food supply is calling on meatpacking companies to take immediate safety steps to stop the ongoing spread of COVID-19, which include, but are not limited to: (1) increased worker testing at meatpacking plants, (2) priority access to PPE for all meatpacking workers, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing inside meatpacking plants, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or who test positive for COVID-19.

The need to take these immediate safety steps reflects the significant threat still facing America’s meatpacking workers. According to the UFCW internal estimates, there have already been at least 44 meatpacking worker deaths and over 3,000 meatpacking workers testing positive for COVID-19. Because of the continuing spread, at least 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point since March 2020 – with closures impacting over 45,000 workers and contributing to a 40 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 25 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

The following statements are from the leading members of the diverse coalition:

“Too many workers are being sent back into meatpacking plants without adequate protections in place, reigniting more outbreaks in the plants and our communities,” said Nick Nemec, a farmer, cattle producer and DRA member from Holabird, SD. “Leadership at all levels has shown a lack of support and concern for the workers and the farmers. A safe food system starts with the safety and respect of those doing the work to produce and process the food. Our current system fails because it treats farmers and workers with little respect and little regard for our safety.”

“We support the workers’ call for mandatory worker protections,” said Kathryn Bedell, rancher and Western Colorado Alliance member from Fruita, CO. “If they don’t get protective equipment and safe working conditions, the food system will remain vulnerable and we all lose – producer, workers and consumers. For too long, the government agencies have stepped back and allowed global meatpacking companies to voluntarily comply with antitrust laws. We know from firsthand experience that this is a failed approach, because it has allowed the meatpacking cartels to manipulate prices paid to livestock producers to the detriment to our livelihoods, and to the detriment of our rural communities who depend on the cattle business.”

“Safe food starts with safe workers,” said UFCW Local 304A member John Massalley who works at Smithfield in Sioux Falls, SD. “When meatpacking plants struggle to contain this virus, it’s not just the workers inside like me who are at risk, family farmers and ranchers are too. Regular testing is critical to stopping future outbreaks, keeping workers safe and protecting our food supply.”

“This pandemic didn’t create the crisis for workers and producers in the meat industry, but it has made a horrific situation even worse,” said Steve Charter, a Shepherd, MT rancher and Northern Plains Resource Council board member. “The consequences of this rigged system are now threatening the lives of meatpacking workers at the same time they’re killing the livelihoods of family ranchers. If leaders want to address this crisis, they need to start with enforcing antitrust laws, instead of abusing emergency authority to force workers to endanger their health. We must use this opportunity to create decentralized, local and regional food systems that are better for producers, consumers, and workers. Now, more than ever, we need policies that help folks who wear boots to work each day instead of shining the shoes of executives in board rooms.”

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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.

 

In National Coronavirus Press Conference, America’s Largest Food & Retail Calls on Top Supermarket Companies to Reinstate Hazard Pay

As Hazards Facing Grocery Workers Continue, UFCW Announces At Least 68 Grocery Workers Have Died and Over 10,000 Exposed or Infected in COVID Pandemic – More Than Double the Number of Deaths and Infections 5 Weeks Ago Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Kroger Condemned for Failing to Release Numbers on Worker Deaths and Infections and for Ending Hazard Pay for Millions of Grocery Workers 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking, food processing and other industries, hosted a national press call with leading reporters from across the country to address the fact that many of America’s largest supermarket and food retail companies – including Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon – have recently ended so-called “hazard or hero pay’ even as the pandemic continues across the country. Click here for the full video recording of the press conference.

During the call, UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on these companies to immediately reinstate this essential pay until the need to wear masks and other protective measures are no longer necessary.

As a measure of the real and growing risk of the public health crisis facing grocery workers, the UFCW also released new internal numbers that at least 68 grocery workers have died and more than 10,000 have been infected or exposed. During the call, UFCW called on every leading food retailer to ensure public health by releasing the number of their food retail and supermarket workers who have died or become sick and/or exposed to COVID-19.

Excerpts of prepared remarks by UFCW International President Marc Perrone are below:

“As this pandemic continues, the threat of this virus is real across every grocery store in America. Yet, most states and supermarket chains are still failing to enforce social distancing or mask wearing in stores to keep customers and workers safe. Even worse, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Kroger have failed to release internal numbers on worker deaths, infections, and exposure. Amazon even fired workers brave enough to speak out.

“Amazon, Whole Foods, Kroger, and other companies have shamefully announced pay cuts for millions of these workers on the frontlines, even as each company experiences record sales. When workers face higher risks, they should be paid more. These workers are not facing fewer hazards and are still putting themselves in harm’s way, interacting with thousands of customers a day, to help ensure our families have the food we need.

“While we hope some of these companies do change, and follow the lead of other national companies like Albertsons and Ahold who acted responsibly to extend this hazard pay, we are preparing options to ensure that every American knows which supermarket companies stood by their workers and their families and which did not. American consumers and workers deserve better and we will continue to stand with them.”

Grocery Workers Speak Out

As part of the call, Kroger grocery workers from across the country spoke about the serious risks they face, and how Kroger eliminating its ‘Hero Pay’ has had a damaging effect on them and their co-workers. The following are statements from these grocery workers.

“Five people in my household work for Kroger and together, we put in about 250 hours per week. When Kroger gave us ‘Hero Pay,’ it felt like we mattered and they were recognizing the risks we are taking. Every day, you fear that you might catch the virus at work. You fear that you might take the virus home to your family. I’ve had customers swear at me when we ask them to wear a mask. One customer even told me I might be dead in a month. After work each day, I want to cry, but I don’t have the tears to cry because it’s not going to make things better. We are working longer hours under stressful conditions. At my store, they take daily temperature scans, but the thermometers the company provides us don’t work. Kroger and all grocery companies need to provide the protective equipment, testing, and essential pay that all of us need so that we can keep our stores operating safely. Our lives are on the line,” said a Ralphs grocery worker in San Diego, California.

“There is a lot of fear in my store because of the virus. Every day, we prepare like we’re going into battle with the virus. We are exposed to thousands of people every day for hours and the reality is it only takes one person to expose an entire store. Kroger ended our ‘hero pay,’ but the crisis is not over. I face each day with anxiety and it gets worse when I see customers refuse to wear masks. I am a mother and my children need me to stay healthy,” said a Kroger meat department worker in Lansing, Michigan.

“Since the coronavirus outbreak began, I’ve been working 60-70 hours a week. As a cashier, it’s hard to social distance from customers. We put our lives on the line every day and I worry about taking the virus back to my grandchildren or husband. When Kroger took away our ‘Hero Pay,’it felt like a slap in the face. Because Kroger is not requiring our customers to wear masks, it’s putting us in jeopardy. The spread of the virus hasn’t stopped, so neither should the protections or ‘Hero Pay’ that our families need ,” said a Kroger cashier in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

“Since Kroger ended ‘Hero Pay,’ I’ve seen the morale in my store go down. My co-workers and I are facing the same struggles and risks, but now the company suddenly doesn’t want to recognize that. What changed? Kroger – and every supermarket company – should pay every grocery worker in America for the risk we are all facing, until this pandemic is over,” said a front-end Kroger worker in Columbus, Ohio.

 Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice calling for action to support and protect grocery workers who are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the UFCW sent a letter to the CEOs of top supermarket chains across the country condemning them for suggesting that the health risks of this pandemic have diminished, and failing to provide the pay and protections necessary given the risks that America’s grocery workers face.

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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.

New Trump Guestworker Policy Exploits Coronavirus Outbreak, Threatens Safety of Workers & American Jobs

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union, with 250,000 Workers Across the Industry, Condemns New H-2B Visa Policy That Will Endanger Workers, American Jobs & U.S. Food Supply

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, condemned a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy removing limitations on the H-2B program for workers who are deemed essential to the food supply chain during the coronavirus outbreak. The new policy will make it easier for companies to eliminate American jobs and replace current employees with guest workers.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s brave meatpacking workers are not replaceable. They are putting their lives on the line every day, with dozens dying and over 10,000 infected, to make sure millions of Americans have the food they need during this deadly outbreak.

“When the Trump Administration forced meatpacking plants to reopen, but failed to enforce the strong safety standards needed, it put more American workers at risk. This new policy is a betrayal of America’s meatpacking workers, giving companies a free pass to ignore safety and push anyone who gets sick out of a job by replacing them with untrained guest workers.

“America’s food supply depends on our country’s meatpacking workers who have the skills and training needed to keep our food supply chain strong during this pandemic. An American president should be protecting American jobs and the food workers who are keeping our country running, not replacing them or exploiting this crisis to further enrich meatpacking companies.

“At a time when our economy is spiraling and our food supply is already under pressure, this decision is a direct threat to workers and represents a clear and present danger to public health and safety. Our country’s leaders – both Republicans and Democrats – must reject this move and stand up for the American workers helping to feed our families during this crisis.”

Background:

This past week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a Temporary Final Rule that will remove limitations on the H-2B program for workers who are deemed “essential to the U.S. food supply chain” and make it easier for employers to obtain guest workers for food manufacturing and processing.

This follows an effort in March 2020 by the National Pork Producers Council to pressure members of Congress and other U.S. Government officials to allow pork producers to hire more guest workers who would displace the hardworking Americans keeping these plants running.

UFCW has been the leading national voice calling for action to increase safety in meatpacking plants to protect workers and keep the U.S. food supply chain secure. In a recent letter to Vice President Pence, UFCW urgently called for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

 

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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.

Top Supermarket Chains Condemned for Ending COVID-19 Emergency Pay Even As Grocery Worker Deaths Increase

In Letter to 49 Supermarket CEOs, America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Urges Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods, and others to Immediately Extend COVID-19 so-called Hazard Pay For Frontline Grocery Workers  

Group Also Releases New Estimate: At Least 65 Grocery Workers Have Died, and 9,810 Have Been Infected or Exposed in COVID-19 Pandemic 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, sent a letter to 49 CEOs of top U.S. supermarket chains including Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods and many others condemning them for a failure to extend emergency pay and protections for grocery workers who are working on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.  

In the letter, UFCW International President Marc Perrone urged them to reverse the decision to end so-called hazard pay for their employees, and to publicly recognize that the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to cost lives all across the country. In fact, new internal UFCW estimates show that at least 65 grocery workers have died, and at least 9,810 have been infected or exposed to the deadly virus.  

In the letter, UFCW called for these CEOs, most of whom continue to work from home even as their workers face dangerous conditions, to do what is right and immediately extend hazard pay until the risk of the virus has abated.  

Today’s letter was sent directly to the CEOs of top supermarket chains across the country, including John Furner (Walmart Supercenters), Dan Bane (Trader Joe’s), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Craig Jelinek (Costco), Kathryn McLay (Sam’s Club), Todd Jones (Publix), and many others. Excerpts of the letter are included below: 

“Millions of American grocery workers have been rightfully called essential by our nation’s elected leaders. Given the daily risks faced, these workers deserve critical protections, benefits, and a higher wage for as long as this public health crisis endures. That your companies are even considering cutting the pay of these frontline workers, while you experience record sales, is shocking in its indifference. 

“Workers are still dying, including many of your own frontline employees. Every one of your grocery workers are still being asked to risk exposure to this virus and work in dangerous conditions that require them to wear protective equipment on the job. You are suggesting that frontline workers should work for less because the threat has diminished even as you and your entire executive teams continue to work from home.  

“If you truly believe that the threat of COVID-19 has passed for your workers, then you should be willing to admit this publicly. Until that day comes, you have a responsibility to provide your workers with essential protections and benefits, including so-called hero/appreciation/hazard pay, until this terrible threat has passed.  

“For the sake of these workers, our families, and our nation’s food supply, we ask you to remember your responsibility to ensure that these workers are receiving the premium pay that they have rightfully earned by facing the very risks that so many Americans—including all of you—have been lucky enough to avoid.”

Background: 

As of today, the UFCW estimates that at least 65 grocery workers have died and 9,810 workers have become sick or exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Please click here to read the full text of the UFCW letter, which was sent to the the CEOs of the following supermarket companies: 

  1. Walmart Supercenters – Bentonville, AR
  2. Costco Wholesale Corp. – Issaquah, WA
  3. Publix Super Markets Inc. – Lakeland, FL
  4. Sam’s Club – Bentonville, AR
  5. H-E-B – San Antonio, TX
  6. Whole Foods Market Inc. – Austin, TX
  7. Aldi Inc. – Batavia, IL
  8. Southeastern Grocers – Jacksonville, FL
  9. Wegmans Food Markets Inc. – Rochester, NY
  10. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. – Westborough, MA
  11. Hy-Vee Inc. – West Des Moines, IA
  12. WinCo Foods LLC – Boise, ID
  13. Save-A-Lot – Earth City, MO
  14. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. – Jacksonville, FL
  15. Sprouts Farmers Markets – Phoenix, AZ
  16. DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc. – Tewksbury, MA
  17. Smart & Final Stores LLC – Commerce, CA
  18. Ingles Markets Inc. – Black Mountain, NC
  19. Golub Corporation – Schenectady, NY
  20. IGA Inc. – Chicago, IL
  21. Lidl US LLC – Arlington, VA
  22. K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. – Abingdon, VA
  23. Brookshire Grocery Co. – Tyler, TX
  24. Grocery Outlet Inc. – Emeryville, CA
  25. Big Y Foods Inc. – Springfield, MA
  26. Gordon Food Service Store – Wyoming, MI
  27. The Fresh Market Inc. – Greensboro, NC
  28. Bashas’ Inc. – Chandler, AZ
  29. Cardenas Markets LLC – Ontario, CA
  30. Fareway Stores Inc. – Boone, IA
  31. Woodman’s Food Markets Inc. – Janesville, WI
  32. Rouses Enterprises LLC – Thibodaux, LA
  33. Marc Glassman Inc. – Cleveland, OH
  34. Lowes Pay and Save Inc. – Littlefield, TX
  35. Redner’s Markets Inc. – Reading, PA
  36. Brookshire Brothers Ltd. – Lufkin, TX
  37. Four B Corp. – Kansas City, KS
  38. Associated Food Stores – Salt Lake City, UT
  39. Niemann Foods Inc. – Quincy, IL
  40. Cosentino’s Food Stores – Prairie Village, KS
  41. All American Quality Food Inc. – Stockbridge, GA
  42. Food Giant Supermarkets Inc. – Sikeston, MO
  43. Harmon City Inc. – West Valley City, UT
  44. Sedano’s Supermarkets Inc. – Hialeah, FL
  45. Stew Leonard’s – Norwalk, CT
  46. Fresh Encounter Inc. – Findlay, OH
  47. B & R Stores Inc. – Lincoln, NE
  48. ABC Stores Hawaii – Honolulu, HI
  49. Aurora Grocery Group – Charlotte, NC 

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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.

Trump Order to Re-Open 14 Meatpacking Plants Fails to Increase Coronavirus Testing and Safety Measures Needed to Protect Food Supply & Workers

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Calls Rush to Re-Open Plants Without Safety Improvements Dangerous Move for Long-Term Security of U.S. Food Supply Chain

Union Announces 30 Meatpacking Worker Deaths, 40 Percent Drop in Pork Production Capacity, 25 Percent Drop in Beef Production Capacity  

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union – which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers across the country – announced its opposition to the re-opening of 14 meatpacking plants under the recent executive order by President Trump, raising concerns about the serious safety issues at these facilities that put workers and the food supply at risk.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s meatpacking workers are putting their lives on the line every day to make sure our families have the food they need during this pandemic. Meatpacking plants did not close because anyone wants them to close. These plants closed because at least 30 workers died and more than 10,000 workers have been infected or exposed to COVID-19.

“Today’s rush by the Trump Administration to re-open 14 meatpacking plants without the urgent safety improvements needed is a reckless move that will put American lives at risk and further endanger the long-term security of our nation’s food supply.

“Since the executive order was announced by President Trump, the Administration has failed to take the urgent action needed to enact clear and enforceable safety standards at these meatpacking plants. We are calling on the White House to end the delays and immediately mandate that all meatpacking companies provide the highest level of protective equipment, ensure daily testing is available for all meatpacking workers, enforce physical distancing at all plants, provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected, and establish constant monitoring by federal inspectors to ensure these safety standards are enforced. We cannot wait any longer.” 

Background:

UFCW recently sent a letter to Vice President Pence urgently calling for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed at least 30 meatpacking worker deaths. The union also announced that new estimates show at least 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 45,000 workers impacted and a 40 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 25 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

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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.

UFCW Calls on All U.S. Governors to Enforce CDC Guidelines to Protect Food Supply and Meatpacking Workers From Coronavirus Outbreak

Union for 250,000 Meatpacking Workers Calls on All States for Immediate Enforcement of Safety Standards As Trump Order Mandates Plants Remain Open 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing all across the country workers, sent a letter to National Governors Association as well as every state’s governor in the country, calling on governors to protect meatpacking and poultry workers during the coronavirus outbreak. The letter was sent as it was reported that President Trump was taking executive action to mandate that meatpacking and poultry plants remain open.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Meatpacking and poultry workers have been working tirelessly through this health crisis so that millions of Americans continue to have access to the food they need. President Trump’s executive order now mandates that they continue to do so, without any language that ensures their safety. Let me be clear, the best way to protect America’s food supply, to keep these plants open, is to protect America’s meatpacking workers.  

“Every governor has the ability to take key steps and additional safety actions to protect these workers and it is imperative that they do so immediately. To protect our food supply and workers, strong, enforceable safety standards must be implemented in every meatpacking plant. These safety standards must ensure all workers have access to testing and personal protective equipment, social distancing is enforced, and paid sick leave is provided to all workers so that no one comes to work sick.  

“In order to protect our nation’s food supply as President Trump is calling for us to do, we must work together to keep the hard-working men and women in these plants safe. Now, more than ever, this must be a priority for all of our state and national leaders” 

Background:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidelines on April 26 for meatpacking and poultry workers and employees. In the new letter to governors, UFCW calls the guidelines a step in the right direction but asks governors to both enforce those guidelines and issue additional protective measures.  

The complete letter which can be seen here calls on U.S. governors to enforce CDC guidelines and to issue the following additional measures to protect:

  • Enforce Physical Distancing: Plants must reconfigure the workplace to achieve physical distancing of at least 6 feet, between workers, both on the production floor and off.  Barriers, such as plexiglass barriers, should be used only to reinforce the 6 feet distancing, not as a substitute for 6 feet distancing.  CDC/OSHA does not make this statement, but this type of distancing may require the speed of the line to be reduced, in order to achieve a reduction or minimization in the spread of the virus.
  • Provide Respirators: All workers on the production floor should be provided with N-95 respirators, which will provide the level of protection needed to protect workers from inhaling virus particles.  Employers must additionally do the following to maintain the integrity of the respirators;
      1. Provide a new respirator at the beginning of every shift.
      2. Provide fit-testing.  Replace respirators if damaged or contaminated.
      3. Follow the current CDC guidelines for disinfecting and storing respirators, if respirators are reused.
      4. Provide training on proper donning and doffing procedures, in languages workers understand.
      5. Provide additional time for hand hygiene and for proper donning and doffing of respirators.
  • Provide Testing: All workers, including management, who are currently working in the plant, should be tested for COVID-19.  Ideally, rapid testing of workers, as they enter the workplace, would ensure that workers carrying the virus are not entering the workplace.
  • Provide Mandatory Paid Quarantine: Should a positive case of COVID-19 be identified in the workplace, those in close contact with the infected individual should be identified as well and paid to stay home for the full two weeks.  This would ensure more workers are not infected, or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • Protect Workers From Retaliation: The UFCW believes that strong, anti-retaliation protections must be in place in order to ensure that workers who feel ill, or who are suffering from COVID-19, can remain at home, in quarantine for the full period of time recommended by the CDC, until it is safe to return to work.  Workers must be encouraged to report any symptoms of illness, or of COVID-19, while at work, as well as any other safety and health hazards, and not suffer any negative consequences for doing so.  

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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.

UFCW: Trump Order to Keep Meatpacking Plants Open Must Include Immediate Action to Strengthen Coronavirus Testing and Safety Measures

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Calls on White House to Immediately Increase Worker Testing, Access to Protective Equipment, and Federal Oversight to Ensure the Safety of All U.S. Meatpacking Plants  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest meatpacking union with 250,000 members across the industry, called on President Trump to take immediate action to support his new order that all meatpacking plants remain open during the coronavirus outbreak.  

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:  

“To protect America’s food supply, America’s meatpacking workers must be protected. The reality is that these workers are putting their lives on the line every day to keep our country fed during this deadly outbreak, and at least 20 meatpacking workers have tragically died from coronavirus while more than 5,000 workers have been hospitalized or are showing symptoms. For the sake of all our families, we must prioritize the safety and security of these workers.  

“While we share the concern over the food supply, today’s executive order to force meatpacking plants to stay open must put the safety of our country’s meatpacking workers first. Simply put, we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers. We urge the Administration to immediately enact clear and enforceable safety standards that compel all meatpacking companies to provide the highest level of protective equipment through access to the federal stockpile of PPE, ensure daily testing is available for workers and their communities, enforce physical distancing at all plants, and provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected. Additionally, to protect the food supply and ensure these safety standards for workers are enforced, these plants must be constantly monitored by federal inspectors and workers must have access to representation to ensure their rights are not violated. 

“All of our country’s elected leaders – federal and state – must work together to ensure that we keep these essential workers safe and our country’s food supply secure.” 

Background:  

In the last week, UFCW sent a letter to Vice President Pence urgently calling for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19. 

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed 20 worker deaths in meatpacking and food processing. In addition, at least 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers have been directly impacted by the virus. Those directly impacted include individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic. 

UFCW announced today that new estimates show 22 meatpacking plants have closed – including union and non-union plants – at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 35,000 workers impacted and a 25 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 10 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity

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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.

 

UFCW Releases Statement on Workers Memorial Day & Announces Worker Deaths from Coronavirus 

America’s Largest Retail & Food Union Announces 72 Worker Deaths in Grocery, Retail, Meatpacking, and Other Industries; and Over 5,000 Workers Directly Impacted by Coronavirus During Outbreak

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members in grocery stores, pharmacies, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses, released a new update on the growing number of frontline workers who have been exposed, sick, and died from COVID-19.

According to the UFCW’s internal reports, which were released on Workers Memorial Day, there have been at least 72 worker deaths and 5,322 workers directly impacted among UFCW members. This covers grocery, retail, pharmacy, meatpacking, and other essential industries and those directly impacted include workers who tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic.

On Workers Memorial Day, UFCW is calling on America’s elected and corporate leaders, as well as American shoppers, to take immediate steps to protect these workers before more lives are lost.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s frontline workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, meatpacking plants, and many other essential businesses are putting their lives on the line every day to ensure families have the food and medicine they need to stay safe during this crisis. These workers never signed up to be first responders in an emergency, but that is exactly what they are now and they need protections immediately before more lives are needlessly lost.

“The human cost to America’s food, retail, and commercial workers is real and growing. From grocery stores to meatpacking plants, from senior care facilities to pharmacies, the impact on workers’ lives from this coronavirus is beyond tragic – and this crisis must be stopped before it gets worse.

“As we remember all of America’s brave frontline workers, across every industry, who have died from COVID-19, we are calling on all of our country’s leaders in the White House, in Congress, and states across the country to strengthen safety standards and take immediate action to protect the millions of workers who are keeping our communities strong throughout the crisis. American lives are on the line. We cannot wait any longer. We need action now.”

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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.

UFCW: Tyson and All Meatpacking Companies Must Act Immediately to Protect American Workers & Food Supply

Union Representing 250,000 Meatpacking Workers Calls for Industry to Strengthen Safety and Transparency, Support First Responder Status for These Workers on Frontlines

Union Announces New Numbers on Increase in Meatpacking Worker Deaths and Plant Closures During Coronavirus Outbreak  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest meatpacking union, called on Tyson and all companies in the industry to make good on the promise of the Tyson New York Times advertisement with immediate action to protect these frontline workers across the country. UFCW is calling on the meatpacking industry to strengthen transparency on plant safety and immediately join the union in calling for these workers to be designated as first responders during the outbreak.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s meatpacking workers and our nation’s food supply are in greater danger every day that companies and leaders fail to act during this outbreak. It is clear that our food supply chain is threatened, and that is why our country’s elected and corporate leaders must act now.

“Tyson and every company across this vital industry, must immediately join with UFCW in calling for federal and state elected leaders to designate these frontline workers as first responders. Temporary first responder status ensures these workers have priority access to the COVID-19 testing and protective equipment they need to continue doing these essential jobs. Our federal leaders must enforce clear guidelines to ensure every employer lives up to the high safety standards these workers deserve and the American people expect.

“Meatpacking companies must increase transparency around their safety efforts to ensure that meatpacking workers, elected leaders, and the communities they serve know exactly what steps they are taking to keep workers safe and our food supply secure. Simply put, given the nature of this COVID-19 crisis, words are not enough. American workers and families across the country cannot wait any longer. Our elected leaders and companies across the industry must act now.”

Background:

In the last week, UFCW sent a letter to Vice President Pence urgently called for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

UFCW recently released new updates on the serious and deadly impact of the Covid-19 virus on meatpacking plants across the country, but those numbers have increased in recent days.

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed 20 worker deaths in meatpacking and food processing. In addition, at least 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers have been directly impacted by the virus. Those directly impacted include individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic.

UFCW announced today that new estimates show 22 meatpacking plants have closed – including union and non-union plants – at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 35,000 workers impacted and a 25 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 10 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

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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

 

Stop & Shop and UFCW Issue Joint Statement Calling For Grocery Workers To Be Classified As First Responders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Stop & Shop and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) issued a joint statement calling on federal and state governments to designate associates at grocery stores as “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel.”

Stop & Shop and UFCW additionally announced that a 10 percent increase in pay for union hourly store associates would be extended through May 30. Stop & Shop and UFCW first announced the pay increase on March 22, along with flexible hours for associates and up to two weeks of additional paid sick leave for associates required to quarantine by government authorities or by the company.

Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid and UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Stop & Shop workers, who are also UFCW members, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York have worked to make sure that families have the food and groceries they need during these difficult times. Make no mistake, Stop & Shop associates are essential workers and they deserve essential protections.

“Stop & Shop and UFCW have worked together to provide these workers with benefits and protections during this health crisis, including emergency pay raises, additional paid sick leave, and access to KN95 masks and face shields, but even more can be done for these workers.

“We are urgently requesting our nation’s state and federal leaders temporarily designate these workers as first responders or emergency personnel. This critical status would help ensure our state’s essential grocery workers have priority access to testing, emergency childcare, and other protections to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

“For the sake of workers, their families, and our nation’s food supply, this action will provide grocery workers with the vital protections they deserve.”

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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

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