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March 19, 2020

UFCW Applauds States for Offering Emergency Protections to Grocery Workers on Front Lines of Coronavirus

America’s Largest Private Sector Union Praises Leadership in Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont to Provide Childcare for At-Risk Workers 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest U.S. private sector union which represents grocery workers across the country, praised leaders in Minnesota, Michigan, and Vermont for recognizing the critical work being done by grocery workers in their states. All have indicated that grocery workers, similar to health care workers and other essential personnel, will be provided with childcare.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“UFCW members in grocery and retail stores across the country are working around the clock to make sure that families have the food and supplies they need. We applaud Minnesota, Michigan, and Vermont for recognizing that these workers are on the front lines, providing an essential service to their communities.

“As our country confronts this outbreak and its devastating impact on our economy, there has never been a more important time for strong leadership. Congress must follow the lead of these states and provide paid leave and other essential protections needed to support the brave grocery and retail workers keeping our communities strong.”

Background:

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a directive as part of an order for “Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers,” which instructs closed schools to continue to provide care for children of emergency personnel who are “critical to the response of COVID-19.” Under the order, grocery workers are considered “essential tier 2 workers” and would be covered. Minnesota officials stated that “districts should make every effort to provide care for school-age children” of these workers.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to expand the capacity for childcare services for health care workers, first responders, and other members of the essential workforce providing critical infrastructure to Michiganders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. This expands the essential workforce to include grocery workers who are helping to provide essential supplies and goods during the outbreak.

Vermont is developing a plan to reimburse private childcare centers for providing care to essential workers. Public safety commissioner Michael Schirling announced that his office would add grocery store workers to the list of essential employees who would receive services like childcare.

Last week, as part of UFCW’s advocacy for grocery workers on the front lines, the union sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders outlining the union’s top policy priorities for economic relief legislation.

In the letter, UFCW called for action by Congress and the White House to provide the aid needed for the nearly 80 million hourly workers – representing about 60 percent of the U.S. workforce – who are most at risk. Top UFCW priorities for worker relief in the letter include:

  • At least two weeks of paid sick leave for all workers
  • Extension of unemployment benefits for workers temporarily laid off or whose work hours have been disrupted
  • Protection against unfair termination or discrimination for those suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus.

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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.