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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.”

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.

McLaughlin to members: Stay vigilant as states reopen

In a telephonic town hall on May 20, UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin called on union members to remain vigilant as Arizona, New Mexico and Utah begin to relax their guidelines in response to the COVOD-19 pandemic.

President McLaughlin also provided updates on a range of issues concerning members, including abusive behaviors by customers; resources to alleviate stress and anxiety; hazard bonuses and appreciation pay; and the dangers of misinformation spread on social media.

‘Be aware out there’

Noting that “we’re now 11 weeks into the national emergency guidelines and the atmosphere in the stores is still a whirlwind and changing sometimes daily,” McLaughlin cautioned members to “be aware out there!”

He said with Arizona taking steps to reopen its economy, workers in stores must continue to be vigilant to avoid a spike in new cases of COVID-19.

“Our need to be diligent is critical to mitigate frustrations and keep ourselves and our customers safe,” McLaughlin said.

He urged members to use the wash stations and sanitizers and to continue wearing masks and using other personal protective equipment.

“Local 99 staff have been distributing masks and hand sanitizer,” he said. “We will hand them out until we have exhausted our supply. Please look for your rep in the store to see if they have any left.”

“In some stores we wish the plexiglass could be bigger, but we are still looking for solutions and asking the companies to make the stores more secure,” President McLaughlin said. “In the meantime, when a customer does not stand behind the glass, politely remind them it’s there – or move so you’re behind it.

“This is a new way of thinking for all of us, and especially for people who are only in the stores for a fraction of time that you’re in the stores,” he continued.

He said Local 99 representatives are handing out “#ESSENTIAL” buttons. “These buttons give a positive identification on the membership,” he continued. “Wear them to show we are united to protect you and the community.”

McLaughlin also announced Arizona will be extending its statewide COVID-19 testing blitz for two more weekends.

“Anyone who thinks that they have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19 can get tested based on the criteria at each location,” he said. “Drive-through testing will be available at certain sites.”

He urged members to visit https://www.azdhs.gov to learn about testing sites, hours of operation, pricing and registration.

‘Verbal abuse should not be tolerated’

“We know of the irate customers who are frustrated and choose to take their frustrations out on you for no reason,” McLaughlin said. “Or maybe it’s because they can’t find toilet paper or the store has run out of meat. One thing for certain is verbal abuse should not be tolerated.”

Whenever members encounter abuse by shoppers or anyone else, they should “let your manager know about it,” he said. “And if they don’t respond, call your union rep.”

McLaughlin also advised members not to take such confrontations by customers personally.

“It has nothing to do with you,” he said. “Some customers have lost their jobs or are on furlough and some have had it up to the limit at home.”

Nevertheless, “We are having regular discussions with the company around safety for our members in the stores,” he said. “These incidents should be taken seriously.”

Countering stress and anxiety

Noting that stress and anxiety can take a physical and a mental toll on union members, President McLaughlin described resources available through Local 99’s Employee Membership Assistance Program and HMC.

“We have telephonic medicine with Teladoc, as well as many different resources to help with issues relating to anxiety, depression and the many other effects this pandemic has on ourselves and our families,” he said.

He encouraged union members to visit ufcw99.com and click on the links to resources.

Hazard bonuses and appreciation pay

President McLaughlin provided an update on how Fry’s and Safeway are rewarding their employees for their courageous service throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Safeway is continuing its $2 per hour premium through the end of May, he said. Fry’s is paying a bonus of $200-$400 split between two payments. The bonuses some members will receive almost equate to a $2 per hour raise.

“If you have any questions, see your rep,” he said.

“We don’t know how long the pay will last, but we will push your companies to pay this as long as we can,” McLaughlin said. “The hazard is still out there, and pay should go with it. It’s important that you are compensated accordingly.”

Handling social media with care

President McLaughlin called on Local 99 members to refrain from criticizing their employers on social media.

“People are saying how terrible their company or their manager is,” he said. “Unfortunately, the companies monitor such posts. Don’t get yourself into trouble because you need to vent on social media.

“Everybody is watching — your friends, your family and management. Be aware of what you share.”

Industry negotiations

Responding to a question about upcoming negotiations, McLaughlin said talks with Fry’s and Safeway will begin late in the summer. Local 99 will prepare by communicating with members through additional telephonic town halls, as well as voice and email blasts, text messages, social media posts, website updates, the 99Report magazine, postcards and other publications.

Union representatives will be in the stores for face-to-face conversations and questionnaires will be sent to the members to ascertain their goals in the negotiations.

“We are in unprecedented times,” he said. “Never in our history have we seen a situation like this. It’s hard to know how these new challenges will play a role in negotiations, but they will.

“One thing we do know is this pandemic has shown how critical our members are to each of the communities we serve.”

Questions and answers

The town hall continued with Secretary-Treasurer Stan Chavira fielding questions from the membership.

“The companies hired a bunch of new people and now that things are slowing down, they are starting to cut hours,” he said. “Some of the new hires are getting more hours than a senior employee. Senior members have protections with scheduling and seniority. Call your rep to fix any situation in the store dealing with seniority rights.

“There are new faces in the stores, which is great, but we just need to protect everybody, and we will defend seniority rights and select a schedule. It’s in your contract and your union rep can help with that.”

Conclusion: ‘You are not alone’

“Just because things may seem to be getting less restrictive, we need to stay the course,” President McLaughlin said in his concluding comments.

“Now is not the time to let our guards down. Our members must be even more vigilant as restrictions relax and customers come into the stores more frequently.

“We must continue to wash our hands, to wear masks or face coverings and continue social distancing.”

“I am more and more proud of the members of this union with every passing day,” he said.

“Always know you are not alone. You have thousands and thousands of union sisters and brothers and we are in this together — always.

“We continue to thank you for your courage, and we applaud your sacrifice.

“Remember: Not all heroes wear capes-some wear aprons.

“Thank you for your hard work and commitment!”

Arizona Enrichment Centers To Offer Child Care To Grocery Store, Food Bank Employees

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey announced today that the Arizona Enrichment Centers Program will expand to offer prioritized child care for the children of grocery store employees and food bank workers. Enrichment Centers have already been providing child care for first responders, critical health care workers and essential public sector workers serving others as Arizona works to slow the spread of COVID-19. The program will also continue to offer prioritized care and scholarships to eligible families through the end of July.

“Arizona’s food bank and grocery store employees continue to step up to ensure our shelves are stocked and Arizonans have access to critical goods,” said Governor Ducey. “This expansion is made possible by the continued partnership of child care providers across the state. My thanks to all our partners in the Enrichment Centers Program and the frontline workers helping to protect public health during COVID-19.”

In early April, the Governor’s Office partnered with the Arizona Departments of Education, Economic Security, Health Services and Administration as well as First Things First, the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, the Government Transformation Office, local child care providers and nonprofit, education and faith-based organizations to offer child care through Arizona Enrichment Centers. To date:

  • 426 providers have registered as Enrichment Centers in 52 cities across the state;
  • 3,318 families of critical health care and essential public sector workers have qualified for priority child care, and can now access the care that best fits their needs;
  • And 2,321 families have qualified for a child care scholarship.

Those eligible for child care through an Enrichment Center can register for priority child care eligibility and financial support by filling out this registration form. All Enrichment Center sites will follow the CDC Guidance for Schools and Child Care Programs, the ADHS Child Care Facility COVID-19 Guidance, as well as guidance issued by local public health departments. Approved Enrichment Centers are listed on the Arizona Enrichment Centers website.

More information is available HERE, and questions can be emailed to AZEnrichmentCenters@az.gov.

ArizonaTogether.org includes additional information about child care and other resources for families, individuals and businesses.

UFCW: 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 International Union (UFCW) – which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers across the country raised serious safety issues with the re-opening of 14 meatpacking plants under the recent executive order by President Trump, highlighting hazards at these facilities that put workers and the food supply at risk. The meatpacking plants re-opening this week include facilities in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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 

This comes as the Trump Administration announced that operations are resuming this past week at the 14 meatpacking facilities listed below:

  • Tyson Perry, Iowa (pork)
  • Tyson Waterloo, Iowa (pork)
  • Tyson Logansport, Indiana (pork)
  • Tyson Robards, Kentucky (poultry)
  • Tyson Portland, Maine (further processor)
  • Tyson Pasco, Washington (beef)
  • Tyson Dakota City, Nebraska (beef)
  • Aurora Packing, Aurora, Illinois (beef)
  • JBS Green Bay, Wisconsin (beef)
  • JBS Worthington, Minnesota (pork)
  • Smithfield Monmouth, Illinois (pork)
  • Smithfield Sioux Falls, South Dakota (pork)
  • Indiana Packers, Indiana (pork)
  • Jennie-O Turkey Store, Willmar, Minnesota (poultry)

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.

Letter to Kroger from Region 8 UFCW Locals Fighting for the continuation of Hero Pay

In a letter to the Vice President of Labor and Associate Relations at Kroger,  President McLaughlin joined other Region 8 local union presidents in calling on Kroger to extend the Hero Pay and recognize the commitment of our Essential Workers.

Read the text below or download as a PDF.

 

May 7, 2020

Mr. Jon McPherson
1014 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Dear Jon:

​As a follow up to our conversation on Tuesday, May 5, regarding the pivoting from Hero Pay to testing for workers and the safety issues inside the stores, we, the Presidents of the UFCW Local Unions in Region 8, would like to express our disappointment in not only the news of such a “pivot” but in signaling the end of Hero Pay.

​We continue to ask that you reconsider extending this pay to your grocery workers who have proven that they are essential to the very survival of communities across the country. We are also concerned by the notion that Hero Pay would “pivot” to testing; we believe that both Hero Pay and testing should be provided to our members, your associates.

​Statements by Kroger about “starting the path to recovery” and “beginning to see a return to normal” do not reflect the reality of the increasing number of cases and deaths across the country. No one knows how long this will last and no one knows what normal will look like when the threat of COVID-19 is over.

​There is no path to recovery from a virus that has no cure. The members of the UFCW who work for you are stocking shelves, bagging groceries, cleaning, and running cash registers while wearing masks and gloves to try to save their lives and the lives of their families.

​The need for social distancing, one shopper per household, having every other check lane open, and customer limits are inconsistently enforced. Anxiety continues to grow as people in communities across the country miss paychecks, and shortages of cleaning supplies, sanitizer, toilet paper, and now meat occur.

​As the states across the nation begin to ease restrictions, more not less people will be going into the stores, increasing our members’ exposure to the public and their chances of catching COVID- 19. Steve Yancey described this as “a return to normal” in an email; however, the situation in the stores is anything but normal.

​This is no time for the Company to turn its back on the very people who’ve gotten Kroger through this pandemic thus far with no end in sight. We ask that you continue the Hero Pay for the foreseeable future.

​We look forward to hearing back from you over our concerns over the Hero Pay, testing for all workers, and safety concerns within the stores that we discussed on the May 5th call. Please feel free to contact Region 8 Director, Bryan Wynn (bwynn@ufcw.org) to re-convene a call for all of us to continue to discuss these important issues.

UFCW Local 99 Summary of Member Telephone Town Hall Tuesday, April 28, 2020 

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Earlier this week, we held our third Telephone Town Hall. For those of you who were able to join us, you may find this summary helpful and for those of you who couldn’t join us, here is what we discussed.

Tuesday was Workers Memorial Day. We paid tribute to workers across the country, across every trade, who have lost their lives or been injured on the job.

It is particularly poignant this year as we mourn thet more than 30 members in our UFCW International Union family who we have lost as well as hundreds of members who are struggling to recover from COVID-19. In particular, we mourn the loss of one of our members, a steward who passed away a few weeks ago and the dozens of Local 99 members who are dealing with Covid-19 now.

The last eight weeks have been a whirlwind; no one could have predicted we would be where we are today.

We’ve had to follow a moving target from stocking the ever-elusive toilet paper to securing and wearing personal protection equipment and supplying sanitizer. We worked with the companies to install washing stations at the front end of most stores, plexiglass barriers in the check stands and we now practice social distancing of six feet.

One benefit that has come out of all this is the widespread recognition of you, our members.

Day in and day out you serve the public, put product on the shelves and food in the stores. Day in and day out you go into work and make sure the essentials are available to help our customers. Some days shrugging off your own personal safety.

I am more and more proud of the members of this union with every passing day

In an editorial I penned for the Arizona Republic, published last week, I referred to you, the people I call “Our accidental heroes…”

These heroes’ courage, work ethic and commitment to the customers is inspiring

There’s no way to sugar-coat reality, though. It’s scary to watch the numbers of those getting sick and succumbing to the virus increase.

At this point, it’s likely we have all been touched by someone who has taken ill, or worse, has passed away, as a result of this deadly virus.

It is hard on us and our families; the stress and anxiety can take a physical and a mental toll.

For those of you who weren’t on previous calls, we went into quite a bit of detail about the resources available to the members for telephonic medicine, with Teladoc, as well as many different resources to help with issues relating to anxiety, depression and the many other effects this pandemic has on ourselves and our families.

Even if we are the lucky ones and test negative, it’s ok to feel scared and anxious about the current situation and about the future.

Always know you are not alone. You have thousands and thousands of union sisters and brothers and we are all in this together. Your union and your union rep are just a click, a text or a phone call away.

If you are concerned, scared or have a question, pick up the phone so we can help you.

That’s our role in this union. We are here for our members on and off the job every step of the way.

There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, so we are focusing on our next steps.

We are in regular contact with the companies under contract with Local 99, with the health departments across our state as well as with the Governor’s office and the state legislators and our representatives in Congress and our US Senator.

At some point, Arizona will slowly begin to re-open and loosen restrictions.

When this happens, it’s important not to let your guard down.

Just because guidelines may seem less restrictive, stay the course, at least for a while.

Our members must be even more vigilant as restrictions are relaxed and customers come into the stores more frequently.

We must continue to wash our hands, to wear masks and to continue honoring social distancing.

• Make sure you are washing your hands as much as possible and using hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands.

If you need more hand sanitizer, let your union rep know.

We’ve distributed sanitizer in the stores, and more is on the way.  It’s like mining for gold to find it, but we are finding it and will get more out in the stores as soon as we can.

• Wear your mask at work. It’s company policy now and part of your uniform.

If a person who has COVID-19 wears a mask and YOU wear a mask – you are 98% protected.

Another way to look at it …

    • If a COVID carrier is near you and only you have a mask on, you are 30% protected from catching the virus from an infected person.
    • If a COVID carrier is wearing a mask and you are not, you are 95% protected from catching the virus. But who knows if the person near you is a carrier?
    • However, if a COVID carrier is wearing a mask AND YOU are wearing the mask, you have less than a 2% probability of catching the virus. If everyone is wearing a mask, you are 98% Protected.

We know they may be uncomfortable. The companies have indicated you can bring and wear your own masks, if you prefer.

It’s important to wear face coverings whether they be medical masks, masks made at home, or even bandanas … It’s all about being as safe as we possibly can.

• Practice social distancing

Don’t host or go to a BBQ right now. Avoid crowds.

Stay six feet apart from each other, which is approximately the length of two grocery carts, and be aware of the markings on the floor.

Keep the circle of people you are close to small, in order to protect our communities.

It’s not the time to let our guard down. We must safeguard those who need to be protected: our elderly, our sick, our immune-compromised population.

 

Secretary-Treasurer Stan Chavira Shares Member Questions / President McLaughlin answers:

There have been lots of specific questions which are best answered by individual reps. We can’t emphasize it enough: call your union rep with questions.

Don’t just guess or rely on an outside source for information. Don’t neglect to ask a question that is crucial to you as an individual. Get the answers from your union rep.

Q: A MEMBER IS ON FURLOUGH AND DOESN’T WANT TO BURN HIS VACATION. DOES HIS MEDICAL STAY INTACT IF HE TAKES FURLOUGH?

Nothing has changed on eligibility for health and welfare. As long as working 80 hours/100 hours per month. If you are on medical leave you are eligible for waivers or FMLA coverage, nothing has changed. We urge you to get in touch with your rep for specifics.

CAN I WEAR A BETTER QUALITY MASK THAN THE ONE THE COMPANY IS PROVIDING?

You can bring masks from home. We’ve worked this out with your company. It’s important we all wear face coverings to protect ourselves and those around us. Masks should not be “outrageous” and must conform to company dress policy.

WILL I BE ABLE TO BE TESTED?

Testing is available through doctor’s offices; some of the restrictions and requirements for testing are being relaxed and more tests are being made available.

SELF CHECKOUT IS NOT SAFE. WHAT’S BEING DONE?

We’ve brought this up with the companies, the need to make the self-checkout area safer. We’ve suggested plexiglass screens in the self-checkout area, and it is a constant point of conversation to try to find a solution. It’s not a place where our members can just stand and not move around. It’s difficult to find a solution, but I was at a Lowe’s store and they had a rolling cart with plexiglass screen.  Six weeks ago, I didn’t imagine plexiglass in front of our registers and look around today. It’s evident that this situation is fluid and we’re constantly searching for ideas to make the workplace safer.

I HAVE NOT GOTTEN MY $2 PAY INCREASE, WAS I OVERLOOKED? THIS INCREASE ENDS MAY 1?

As of today, the increase is scheduled to end May 2, but we’re in constant contact to continue that increase as long as we can. If you haven’t gotten your pay increase and you are eligible, call your rep to get that corrected.

EMPLOYEES AT A NUMBER OF STORES DON’T THINK COMPANIES ARE DOING ENOUGH TO REGULATE HOW MANY CUSTOMERS ARE ALLOWED TO SHOP. FAMILIES AND GROUPS COMING IN AT ONE TIME IS A CONCERN AS WELL.

We are working with the companies to get to a number that is manageable and provide for the safety of our members and our customers.

IF AN EMPLOYEE TESTS POSITIVE IN THE STORE, OTHER EMPLOYEES FEEL STORE IS JUST TRYING TO KEEP THE CASE QUIET AND NOT INFORMING EMPLOYEES WHO COULD HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT. ALSO, NOT PROVIDING RESOURCES FOR TESTING FOR THOSE THAT MAY HAVE BEEN EXPOSED FROM A CO-WORKER?

There are restrictions and privacy laws that are in effect to protect people’s health – We know people want to know if they’ve been exposed or not, that information may not be available unless the employee who has been affected shares it. – but you can keep up to date by talking to your rep.

Thank you to those members who emailed questions. This allows us to get critical information distributed quickly and efficiently.

For the questions regarding health and welfare, pensions, leaves of absences and others requiring individual answers, we urge you to contact your union rep.

We’re here to help you every step of the way. We are your resource and are working to protect you and your families. You are my number one priority.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. And remember, we are better when we work together. We will get through this because we WILL work together.

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.

 

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 workersand 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.

 

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 impactedamong 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.”

 

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 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.

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.

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