America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls for Mask Mandates Nationwide to Protect Workers and Shoppers as COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union representing 1.3 million workers – including Kroger grocery workers across the country, called the new policy by Kroger to require that customers wear masks in stores long overdue. With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing in states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas, the union called the Kroger policy an important step which underscores the need for action to mandate masks in all 50 states.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“Kroger’s action to mandate masks for customers is long overdue and an important step that UFCW has been calling for since the beginning of the pandemic. To help save lives, every retailer and grocery store across this nation must adopt a mask requirement, and enforcement must be done by trained professionals, not retail workers already stretched thin during this crisis.
“While action by companies to require masks is essential, the brutal reality is that this is not nearly enough to turn the tide as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket in states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas. Across the country, every governor and mayor must step up and make masks mandatory at all supermarkets and retail stores. Without universal mask mandates that are fully enforced nationwide, hundreds of thousands of Americans will continue to get sick and die. We cannot wait any longer.”
UFCW recently announced that in the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have already been 278 worker deaths and nearly 44,419 workers infected or exposed among its members in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, healthcare facilities, and other essential businesses.
In grocery stores across the country, there have been at least 93 worker deaths and 12,200 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.
A new USA Today report shows that 50 percent of governors still refuse to enact public mask mandates, including in states like Arizona, Florida, and Georgia which have seen COVID-19 cases continue to increase at alarming rates.
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.