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

June 10, 2020 Updated: August 24, 2020

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 www.ufcw.org