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June 30, 2020

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

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

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

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

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

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

Background:

UFCW recently announced that in the first 100 days of COVID-19, there have already been 238 worker deaths and nearly 29,000 workers infected or exposed among its members in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, healthcare facilities, and other essential businesses.

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

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

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

Click here to read full background on the legislation.   

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

June 25, 2020

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

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

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

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

Enforcing Public Mask Mandate in Every County and State, and 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org

 

 

June 23, 2020

New Mexico baristas vote to join UFCW Local 1564

In spite of a national health crisis and strong employer resistance, baristas from two CoffeeMongers stores in Albuquerque, N.M., were able to vote earlier this June to join UFCW Local 1564 for the better wages they have earned and deserve.

A dozen baristas at Coffeemongers met with staff from UFCW Local 1564 via text and email to discuss membership benefits, goals, and how the process works. These workers, who specialize in latte art that requires extensive training, skill and imagination, joined UFCW Local 1564 because they were concerned about wages and were earning less than entry level employees at major coffee chains.

The workers also had to deal with the NLRB shutdown due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, which delayed the election by nearly three months. Despite these setbacks, the baristas stayed strong and unified and voted in favor of joining UFCW Local 1564 by an overwhelming margin through a mail ballot election. The votes were counted by the NLRB via FaceTime.

One of the baristas, Mahalia Lind Diamond, was the committee leader throughout the CoffeeMongers campaign.

“With all odds against us, we proved the power of solidarity and unity,” said Diamond. “Now, we must use this strength to gain what we’ve worked so hard to obtain in our economic life. Together, as one.”

“Organizing a new group of workers always contains surprises and last minute obstacles, but this one also included the NLRB refusing to hold an election two days before the election due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said UFCW Local 1564 President Greg Frazier. “After nearly three months of delays and stall tactics by both the board and the employer, these workers showed strength and determination by fighting off management during a health crisis. We are humbled to help them obtain a good contract and reward them for their faith in their union.”

June 19, 2020

UFCW Statement on Juneteenth 

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

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

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

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

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

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org.

June 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement: 

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

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

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

Background 

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

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

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

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org

 

June 18, 2020

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

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

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

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

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

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

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

Background:

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

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

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org

June 17, 2020

While some employers roll back “hero pay,” new UFCW agreement with Cargill makes it permanent

In an in industry-shifting win for meatpacking workers, over 7,000 Cargill workers who are members of UFCW Locals 2, 293 and 540 recently ratified strong, new contracts that include better wages and benefits. The workers are employed at Cargill plants in Dodge City, Kan.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Schuyler, Neb.

The UFCW negotiated a $2 per hour temporary raise for Cargill workers from March 23 to May 5 as part of our effort to increase pay and other benefits for frontline workers during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, and the new contract makes the $2/hour increase permanent through the rest of the 5-year agreement. In addition to the permanent $2 per hour raise, the workers will also receive a $6 per hour temporary raise in response to the ongoing health crisis through August 31, 2020, and short term disability benefits will be significantly strengthened.

The agreement with Cargill stands in a sharp contrast to how employers such as Kroger, who recently ended their so called “hero pay” despite the objections of the UFCW and concerned shoppers, have handled hazard pay and benefits for their employees.

The UFCW has been pushing for better standards for food workers since the beginning of this crisis. With Cargill as the third largest meat producer in the United States, the UFCW hopes the victory will help pave the way for raising standards in the entire industry.

“The $2 permanent wage increase and enhanced benefits represent a significant breakthrough for our members at Cargill,” said International Vice President and Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing Division Director Mark Lauritsen. “Our union will push other meatpacking and food processing employers to follow Cargill’s lead with the goal of raising standards for all workers in this industry.”

Work in these plants is never easy, and at a time of so much turmoil, it is welcome to have a bit of good news that the hard work and sacrifice of these men and women will be recognized. There is no price on someone’s safety, but these increases help define essential workers as valued and important to our communities rather than disposable, and we hope that more employers, in not only meat packing but in all essential industries, will recognize this and follow suit.

June 12, 2020

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

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

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

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

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

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

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

Background:

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

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

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

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

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org

June 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background:

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

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

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

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org

June 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.