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America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Demands CEOs End Gag Rules Endangering Public Health, Calls For National Registry of Frontline Worker COVID- 19 Infections

August 27, 2020 Updated: September 27, 2020

Hispanic Worker with Mask

Union for Grocery, Retail, and Meatpacking Workers Demand Transparency from Top Companies As COVID-19 Cases Continue to Spike

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking, and other industries on the frontlines of the pandemic – condemned the CEOs of Amazon, Target, McDonald’s, and other top companies for instituting “gag rules” that prevent workers from disclosing COVID-19 infections in the workplace. A new report exposing the COVID-19 gag rules at top companies highlights the stunning effort to silence workers, and intimidate whistleblowers seeking to raise awareness about the threats to their workplace and public safety.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement: 

“All Americans should be outraged by this report about COVID-19 gag rules at Amazon, Target, McDonald’s, and other top companies. It is outrageous that these CEOs would deliberately keep Americans in the dark about COVID-19 infections at their companies, directly threatening public health and worker safety in the middle of a pandemic that has already cost nearly 200,000 American lives.

“This new report exposes what UFCW has long warned the public about – that many of our nation’s largest corporations are purposely trying to hide the full extent of COVID-19 infections among their employees. Even worse, these actions by Amazon and other top companies are part of a ruthless attempt to silence whistleblowers at a time when transparency is more important than ever to keeping Americans safe from COVID-19.

“For the sake of all of our families’ safety, UFCW is once more calling for the immediate creation of a national public registry of COVID-19 worker infections to ensure that our elected leaders and the American people have all the facts about how many workers have died, been infected, or exposed to this deadly virus. We cannot afford to wait for the next outbreak or for more lives to be needlessly lost. Americans need and deserve answers now.”

Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice in calling for action to strengthen transparency in tracking COVID-19 infections among America’s frontline workers.

On a June 25 national press call, UFCW called for the creation of a new national public registry to track COVID-19 worker infections. As proposed by UFCW, the public registry would require all companies with 1,000 employees or more to publicly disclose the number of COVID-19 deaths, infections, and exposures among their employees.

This week, UFCW confirmed 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 103 grocery worker deaths and over 14,300 grocery workers infected or exposed to COVID-19.

Additionally, UFCW confirmed that there have been at least 115 meatpacking worker deaths and over 17,700 meatpacking workers infected or exposed to the virus. And in food processing plants, the union confirmed there have been at least 35 food processing worker deaths and more than 4,900 food processing 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 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