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September 25, 2020

UFCW and Stop & Shop Announce New Premium Pay Agreement for Grocery Workers on Frontlines As COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, retail, and other frontline industries – announced a new agreement with Stop & Shop on premium pay for 56,000 union Stop & Shop associates represented by UFCW.

The agreement will provide retroactive premium pay – in the form of lump sum payments equal to 10 percent of all hours worked between July 5, 2020 and August 22, 2020 – to recognize their ongoing efforts to ensure communities have access to the food and supplies they need as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

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

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S. in March, UFCW members and Stop & Shop workers have gone above and beyond to ensure that our stores have remained open to serve our communities’ essential needs. These workers have risen to the challenge and Stop & Shop deeply appreciates everything they have done in difficult circumstances – at work and at home – as they care for their neighbors and their families during a national crisis.

“Working in partnership when the pandemic began to take hold, UFCW International and UFCW local unions together with Stop & Shop offered union members a temporary premium. When that pay raise expired in July, the UFCW local unions and members asked Stop & Shop to do what is right for grocery workers and UFCW members.

“Today, UFCW and Stop & Shop are proud to announce a tentative agreement has been reached on a new premium that recognizes Stop & Shop workers for their incredible efforts. The UFCW wants to acknowledge Stop & Shop for not only recognizing its workers, but for remaining committed to work with UFCW, America’s largest food and retail union, to better the lives of these dedicated workers and their families.

“Today’s agreement is a further testament that by negotiating in good faith, Stop & Shop and UFCW have been able to achieve a real victory that is shared by the company, its customers, these communities, and the grocery workers who continue to serve.”

Background:

UFCW International and UFCW Local unions have been negotiating with employers across the country this year to recognize how hard grocery workers are working to provide necessary food and supplies to their communities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The new agreement announced today by UFCW and Stop & Shop includes the following:

  • 56,000 union Stop & Shop associates represented by UFCW, will receive retroactive premium pay for this past summer
  • Retroactive premium pay will be provided to each employee in the form of lump sum payments equal to 10 percent of all hours worked between July 5 and August 22.
  • The retroactive premium pay excludes any paid time off accrued in this time period and does not apply to any employees represented by UFCW local unions currently engaged in contract negotiations with the company.
  • Additionally, Stop & Shop has agreed to observe a moment of silence on Labor Day and Workers Memorial Day, starting in 2021, to recognize both the frontline workers lost to COVID-19 and the collective strength that union membership has provided to its associates.

This is in addition to the initial Stop & Shop premium pay between March and July, as well as the two additional weeks of paid leave provided earlier this year if any workers become sick.

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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.

September 24, 2020

NEW REPORT: Whole Foods Workers Endangered by Amazon COVID-19 Safety Failures as Online Grocery Orders Overwhelm Employees and Customers in Stores

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls for Action to Protect Whole Foods Workers and Hold Amazon Accountable as COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery and other frontline industries, condemned Amazon after a new report highlighted ways the company is endangering its workers in Whole Foods stores that have been overwhelmed by the surge in online orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following joint statement:

“The pandemic that is raging across America, and has already cost countless lives, is bringing out the worst in companies like Amazon that are willfully choosing to ignore their responsibility to keep workers and their communities safe.

“For the sake of their bottom line, Jeff Bezos is turning Whole Foods stores into a chaotic mess where employees are now being pitted against each other in the rush to churn out as many Prime Now orders as possible without any regard to the health risks they face.

“Amazon’s belief that workers are machines, and the company’s ruthless obsession with speed, is forcing these men and women to run around stores and completely ignore the safeguards that are essential to protecting them and preventing another COVID-19 outbreak.

“It is time for our elected leaders to realize that large companies, like Amazon, are needlessly putting the health and safety of workers and customers at risk in this pandemic. The time has come to stop ignoring these dangerous actions and to hold Amazon and Jeff Bezos accountable for these business practices that needlessly threaten to spark the spread of even more COVID-19 infections in these stores.”

Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice for grocery worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and recently launched a national campaign calling on grocery chains – like Amazon-owned Whole Foods – to reverse hazard pay cuts that have hurt workers across the country. In December 2018, the retail branch of UFCW launched a campaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers.

UFCW confirmed today that frontline workers continue to be at risk. Among the union’s members, there have been at least 105 grocery worker deaths and at least 15,484 grocery workers infected or exposed to the virus.

UFCW has also pressured other tech companies to strengthen worker protections. In June 2020, UFCW called out Facebook for creating a tool that allows companies to censor communications among their workers about unionizing.

In March 2020, UFCW condemned Instacart for failing to immediately provide the COVID-19 hazard pay and personal protective equipment needed to support and keep their workers safe at the beginning of the pandemic. In February 2020, Instacart workers in the Chicago area joined UFCW, making history as the first Instacart workers to join a union.

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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.

September 12, 2020

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Calls on White House for Real Accountability and Action To Protect Workers on Frontlines of COVID-19 Pandemic

Union Calls Latest Trump Admin. Fine Failure to Protect American Workers Essential to Food Supply Chain During Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union – which represents 1.3 million workers in meatpacking plants and other essential businesses across North America – condemned the new U.S. Department of Labor fine on JBS Foods for the COVID-19 outbreak at the company’s plant in Greeley, Colorado. UFCW, which represents workers at the plant, called the $15,615 fine insufficient given that the outbreak led to 8 worker deaths and over 200 worker infections.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone​ released the following statement:

“The failure of the federal government to protect American workers and our nation’s food supply has reached new lows. With this latest ‘so-called fine,’ OSHA and the Department of Labor prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they do not care about holding irresponsible corporations accountable for the lives lost or worker safety.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, meatpacking workers and UFCW have led the fight for better personal protective equipment, universal COVID-19 testing, better social distancing in plants, and the real and enforceable health and safety standards needed to keep these facilities safe. We have done our job, and all we have asked is that the federal government do its job and hold irresponsible employers accountable. This ‘so-called fine’ proves that this administration is incapable and unwilling to fulfill its duty to keep workers safe.

“Make no mistake, the Trump administration has once again failed to honor what is its sacred responsibility – protect the American people. Our country’s meatpacking workers and the millions of Americans they serve, deserve and expect better from this administration and the leaders sworn to protect us.”

Background:

As the largest North American meatpacking union, UFCW has been a leading national voice in the call to protect meatpacking workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UFCW represents employees at the JBS plant in Greeley, Colorado that is the subject of the latest fine. The union also represents workers at the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the focus of another Trump Administration fine this week. UFCW sounded the alarm early in the pandemic about the risks these workers faced, calling for action from public officials, and company leaders to provide the critical safety equipment and measures needed to protect employees as the virus devastated meatpacking plants across the country.

This week, UFCW confirmed that there have already been at least 122 meatpacking worker deaths and over 18,000 meatpacking workers infected or exposed to COVID-19. These numbers only include workers represented by UFCW.

As the New York Times reported, many meatpacking companies have refused to release internal numbers on worker deaths and infections, meaning that total number of meatpacking workers impacted by the virus is likely much higher that current public figures.

Meatpacking workers at the JBS Foods Greeley, Colorado plant are members of UFCW Local 7R. Workers at Smithfield’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant are members of UFCW Local 304A.

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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.

September 10, 2020

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Condemns Trump Admin. For Failure to Hold Smithfield Accountable for Outbreak of COVID-19 Worker Deaths and Infections

Union Calls New Trump Admin. Meatpacking Fine a “Slap on the Wrist” After Plant Failed to Protect Workers, With Multiple Deaths and Nearly 1,300 Worker Infections

Nationwide: 122 Meatpacking Worker Deaths, Over 18,000 Workers Infected or Exposed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in meatpacking plants and other essential businesses, condemned the new U.S. Department of Labor fine on Smithfield Foods as completely insufficient in the wake of the company’s failure to protect meatpacking workers at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota which reported nearly 1,300 COVID-19 infections and at least four deaths among its employees. As the union for Smithfield workers at this plant, UFCW called today’s fine by the Trump Administration insulting and a slap on the wrist that will do nothing to help those already infected or prevent future worker deaths.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone​ released the following statement:

“How much is the health, safety, and life of an essential worker worth? Based on the actions of the Trump Administration, clearly not much. This so-called ‘fine’ is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the face of the thousands of American meatpacking workers who have been putting their lives on the line to help feed America since the beginning of this pandemic.

“OSHA has been asleep at the switch throughout this pandemic and this is just the latest example of the agency failing to do their job and take responsibility for worker safety. If we truly care about protecting workers and our nation’s food supply during this pandemic, the federal government must take action, beginning with an enforceable national safety standard, increased access to PPE and COVID-19 testing, and rigorous proactive inspections.

“Smithfield is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that failed to protect its workers, with multiple deaths and more than a thousand infections on their watch. This response by OSHA confirms that the company will not face any real consequences. The failure by the Trump Administration to hold Smithfield accountable makes clear that this White House cares more about industry profits than protecting America’s essential workers. Our country’s meatpacking workers, and the millions of American they serve, deserve and expect better from those sworn to protect us.”

Background:

As the largest North American meatpacking union, UFCW has been a leading national voice in the call to protect meatpacking workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UFCW represents employees at the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota that reported at least 1,294 meatpacking worker infections and four worker deaths from COVID-19. UFCW sounded the alarm early in the pandemic about the risks these workers faced, calling from for action from public officials, and company leaders to provide the critical safety equipment and measures needed to protect employees as the virus devastated meatpacking plants across the country.

UFCW confirmed today that there have already been at least 122 meatpacking worker deaths and over 18,000 meatpacking workers infected or exposed to COVID-19. These numbers only include workers represented by UFCW. As the New York Times reported, many meatpacking companies have refused to release internal numbers on worker deaths and infections, meaning that total number of meatpacking workers impacted by the virus is likely much higher that current public figures.

Meatpacking workers at Smithfield’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant are members of UFCW Local 304A.

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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.

September 3, 2020

America’s Meatpacking Union, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Marcia Fudge Demand USDA Stop Endangering Poultry Workers on Frontlines of COVID-19 Pandemic

USDA’s Relentless Push for Faster Line Speeds Further Endangers Poultry Workers and Food Supply Already At Risk During Pandemic 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s meatpacking union with 1.3 million workers, along with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Representative Marcia Fudge (Ohio), announced their opposition to a proposed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation increasing line speeds in poultry plants across America.  

“The hard-working men and women of America’s poultry industry deserve safe workplaces,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “As our country’s poultry workers have been battling a pandemic, they should not have to also battle USDA seeking to make their workplaces less safe. Slower line speeds keep workers safer from injuries and ensure safe social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus. The USDA must end its reckless efforts to increase line speeds, and instead put the safety of America’s workers and food supply first.”

“Fast line speeds worsen already unsafe conditions on slaughter lines and make it nearly impossible for workers to socially distance,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge.  “In fact, nearly all of the poultry plants that USDA allowed to operate faster line speeds this spring have been cited for worker safety violations or experienced COVID outbreaks.  In the middle of a pandemic, USDA should be prioritizing worker safety.  Congress must act now and pass my Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act to block USDA from increasing poultry line speeds and putting the health and safety of the meatpacking workforce at greater risk.”

“Despite a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks in meatpacking plants across the country, the USDA continued to grant line speed request waivers that threatened the health and safety of workers, their families, and consumers,” said Senator Cory Booker. “The USDA has now proposed to permanently increase line speeds in poultry plants—an action that is both dangerous and irresponsible. Now is the time, more than ever, that we pass the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act and protect workers and communities from the harm of these reckless giveaways to corporate agribusiness.”  

Background:

UFCW, the top union for American meatpacking and poultry workers, has been a leading national voice for strengthening safeguards in these plants, which have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UFCW reports that COVID-19 continues to threaten frontline food workers across the country, with more than 250 food worker deaths and over 36,000 food workers infected or exposed. This includes at least 115 meatpacking worker deaths and over 17,700 meatpacking workers infected or exposed to the virus.

Poultry Plant Regulation

The USDA regulates poultry line speed in plants across the United States for both worker safety and to allow for food inspection. Current line speeds are about 140 birds per minute and the proposed regulation allows plants to operate at up to 175 birds per minute.

In 2017, the USDA considered a petition from the National Chicken Council to eliminate line speed limits. That effort was ultimately rejected after an outpouring of opposition from workers and consumers.

Since then, the USDA has continued to approve record numbers of waivers to allow individual plants to operate at dangerously fast speeds, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Union and Legislative Action

The UFCW and Public Citizen have filed a lawsuit to stop this dangerous practice and prevent further line speed waivers in the poultry industry.

Senator Cory Booker along with Representative Fudge have introduced “The Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act” to ensure that USDA protects worker safety by ending this practice.

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September 1, 2020

National Hazard Pay Campaign Launches Today As COVID-19 Continues to Threaten and Sicken Thousands of America’s Frontline Workers

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Announces National Hazard Pay Campaign With Actions in 26 Cities and 10 States Targeting Top Grocery Chains

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, announced the launch of a new national campaign to restore hazard pay for millions of America’s frontline workers. The new campaign will call on the country’s leading grocery companies — including Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Ahold — and many other essential businesses, to reinstate hazard pay in light of the continuing human cost being paid by America’s grocery workers and other essential employees during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the first phase of the UFCW’s national hazard pay campaign, at least 26 worker actions will be held this week at grocery stores and other essential businesses across the country in CaliforniaTexasGeorgiaVirginiaColorado,WashingtonTennesseeMarylandWestVirginia, and other states hit hard by COVID-19.

The new campaign will include grassroots actions as well as targeted paid and digital media to highlight the serious health threats these workers continue to face. UFCW will connect customers and communities with essential workers to call on these businesses to guarantee hazard pay as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone said, “America’s grocery workers are putting their lives on the line every day that they walk into the store, because this pandemic is far from over and the health threats are just as real now as they were when this crisis began. It is outrageous that the CEOs of these companies refuse to restore hazard pay even as more of these workers are getting sick and dying every week. Hazard pay for grocery workers must be reinstated now.”

This past week, UFCW confirmed there have been at least 103 grocery worker deaths and over 14,300 grocery workers infected or exposed to COVID-19. As a new investigation by Bloombergreported last week, the actual national number of workers who have died, become sick, or been exposed, is likely much higher given that America’s largest food companies have launched an effort to hide the true human cost.

“While top grocery chains rake in billions in profits during this pandemic, these frontline grocery workers continue to put themselves at risk to ensure our families have the food we need. As long as the hazard of COVID-19 continues, these companies must do what is right and provide the hazard pay these grocery workers have earned and deserve,” Perrone added.

During the campaign, the UFCW will be releasing first person testimonials from workers on the frontlines, as well as customers and local community members, calling on these companies to provide hazard pay to all of these essential workers. To view these videos, please click here.

Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice in calling for grocery chains to restore hazard pay for these workers who continue to be on the frontlines of this pandemic.

In a CNN op-ed with Senator Kamala Harris, the union called for top companies like Kroger, Whole Foods, Albertsons and others to ensure that all of their employees receive the hazard pay that they have earned for putting themselves at risk.

Additionally, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown led a group of Senate Democrats in a letter calling on the CEOs of the country’s top supermarket chains to end the delays and reinstate grocery worker hazard pay.

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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

August 31, 2020

Why grocery store workers deserve hazard pay – Opinion by Kamala Harris and Marc Perrone

August 31, 2020

With official systems swamped, union gets into contact tracing

August 31, 2020

Wendell Young: Grocery workers are still on frontline of COVID-19

August 31, 2020

The Pandemic Hasn’t Gone Away – Neither Should Hazard Pay