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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 workersacross 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.

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.

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 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

#ShopSmart Campaign Urges Shoppers to Help Keep America’s Grocery Workers Safe & Grocery Stores Open

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Runs Full-Page New York Times Ad Highlighting New Initiative Calling on Shoppers to Help Stop Spread of the Coronavirus by Shopping Smart

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union, highlighted its national safety initiative entitled, #ShopSmart, to help keep grocery stores open for all and to take three easy steps to keep grocery workers safe from the coronavirus.

As part of the #Shop Smart national safety initiative, the UFCW has launched a national media campaign that includes television ads running in eight cities and 21 media markets, a social media advertising effort, and a full-page advertisement in the New York Times that will emphasize the three steps America’s shoppers must take to help protect the more than one million grocery workers who are working tirelessly to protect our nation’s food supply.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“To keep our grocery workers safe and grocery stores open for all, it is essential that Americans #ShopSmart and take easy steps to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. All we are asking is that shoppers take these easy safety steps – beginning with always wearing a mask – to help protect these essential grocery workers and make sure that grocery stores continue to be open and a safe place to shop for all of our families. Working together, we can do this, but only if all Americans realize the power that each of us has to fight this virus.”

Today’s full-page advertisement in the New York Times follows the ongoing six-figure national #Shop Smart media campaign highlighted by a new PSA-style commercial that is airing nationally in 21 media markets across 8 states, including the major media markets of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

Background:

The #Shop Smart New York Times ad can be viewed here, and the text is included below.

SAVE LIVES, SHOP SMART

During this time of national crisis, over one million union and non-union grocery workers are working hard every single day to provide the food and groceries that America’s families depend on.

These are essential jobs performed by amazing men and women. These are good jobs that fulfill a critical public service.These vital grocery stores must stay open and they must be safe.

To help keep all grocery workers and customers safe, we’re asking every American who loves their local grocery store to take the following #ShopSmart Pledge.

  • Always wear a mask or face covering when shopping. If you don’t have a mask, learn how to make one at cdc.gov/coronavirus.
  • Respect social distancing at all times. Stay 6 feet apart from workers and other customers.
  • Discard used masks and gloves safely. Please don’t leave used masks or gloves in a shopping cart or anywhere else – throw them away in the trash.

By working together, we can make sure that our grocery stores remain a safe place to work and shop.

So, please, America… #ShopSmart

Let’s Work Together To Save Lives.

Text ShopSmart to 23396

Visit ufcw.org/shopsmart

 

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 atwww.ufcw.org.