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May 28, 2020

American Farmers, Ranchers and Food Workers Call for Better Worker Protections at Meatpacking Plants to Stop COVID-19 Outbreaks and Protect Food Supply

Diverse Group Makes Urgent Call on Trump Administration to Take Immediate Safety Steps to Prevent Ongoing Spread of COVID-19

Union Announces New Numbers: At Least 44 Meatpacking Worker Deaths and Over 3,000 Meatpacking Workers Testing Positive for COVID-19

SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents over 250,000 workers in meatpacking and food processing, joined with a diverse group of American farmers and ranchers from Dakota Rural Action (DRA), Northern Plains Resource Council, Western Colorado Alliance, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) to call on meatpacking companies, the Trump Administration, as well as state and local governments, to take immediate and stronger steps to protect frontline meatpacking workers and our food supply from the deadly COVID-19 virus.

“The best way to protect our food supply is to protect the people who work within it,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “From frontline food processing workers to farmers and ranchers, we are all critical to keeping American families fed during this crisis. Enacting strong worker safety standards inside meatpacking plants will help people outside of them as well and ensure every link in our food supply chain is secure.”

The broad coalition which came together to protect workers and the food supply is calling on meatpacking companies to take immediate safety steps to stop the ongoing spread of COVID-19, which include, but are not limited to: (1) increased worker testing at meatpacking plants, (2) priority access to PPE for all meatpacking workers, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing inside meatpacking plants, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or who test positive for COVID-19.

The need to take these immediate safety steps reflects the significant threat still facing America’s meatpacking workers. According to the UFCW internal estimates, there have already been at least 44 meatpacking worker deaths and over 3,000 meatpacking workers testing positive for COVID-19. Because of the continuing spread, at least 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point since March 2020 – with closures impacting over 45,000 workers and contributing to a 40 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 25 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

The following statements are from the leading members of the diverse coalition:

“Too many workers are being sent back into meatpacking plants without adequate protections in place, reigniting more outbreaks in the plants and our communities,” said Nick Nemec, a farmer, cattle producer and DRA member from Holabird, SD. “Leadership at all levels has shown a lack of support and concern for the workers and the farmers. A safe food system starts with the safety and respect of those doing the work to produce and process the food. Our current system fails because it treats farmers and workers with little respect and little regard for our safety.”

“We support the workers’ call for mandatory worker protections,” said Kathryn Bedell, rancher and Western Colorado Alliance member from Fruita, CO. “If they don’t get protective equipment and safe working conditions, the food system will remain vulnerable and we all lose – producer, workers and consumers. For too long, the government agencies have stepped back and allowed global meatpacking companies to voluntarily comply with antitrust laws. We know from firsthand experience that this is a failed approach, because it has allowed the meatpacking cartels to manipulate prices paid to livestock producers to the detriment to our livelihoods, and to the detriment of our rural communities who depend on the cattle business.”

“Safe food starts with safe workers,” said UFCW Local 304A member John Massalley who works at Smithfield in Sioux Falls, SD. “When meatpacking plants struggle to contain this virus, it’s not just the workers inside like me who are at risk, family farmers and ranchers are too. Regular testing is critical to stopping future outbreaks, keeping workers safe and protecting our food supply.”

“This pandemic didn’t create the crisis for workers and producers in the meat industry, but it has made a horrific situation even worse,” said Steve Charter, a Shepherd, MT rancher and Northern Plains Resource Council board member. “The consequences of this rigged system are now threatening the lives of meatpacking workers at the same time they’re killing the livelihoods of family ranchers. If leaders want to address this crisis, they need to start with enforcing antitrust laws, instead of abusing emergency authority to force workers to endanger their health. We must use this opportunity to create decentralized, local and regional food systems that are better for producers, consumers, and workers. Now, more than ever, we need policies that help folks who wear boots to work each day instead of shining the shoes of executives in board rooms.”

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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.

Dakota Rural Action (DRA) organizes people and builds leadership while developing strong allied relationships. We protect environmental resources, advocate for resilient agriculture systems, and empower people to create policy change that strengthens their communities and cultures. 

Northern Plains Resource Councils is a grassroots conservation and family agriculture group that organizes Montanans to protect our water quality, family farms and ranches, and unique quality of life.  

Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action brings people together to build grassroots power through community organizing and leadership development. We believe that right now, today, we have the ability and opportunity to create a future where engaged local voices are leading communities across Western Colorado that are healthy, just and self-reliant. 

The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) is a network of eight grassroots organizations in seven Western states with 15,000 members, many of them ranchers and farmers committed to common-sense reform in agriculture, oil and gas development, coal mine reclamation, and rural economic development. Headquartered in Billings, Mont., WORC also has offices in Colorado and Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

May 20, 2020

In National Coronavirus Press Conference, America’s Largest Food & Retail Calls on Top Supermarket Companies to Reinstate Hazard Pay

As Hazards Facing Grocery Workers Continue, UFCW Announces At Least 68 Grocery Workers Have Died and Over 10,000 Exposed or Infected in COVID Pandemic – More Than Double the Number of Deaths and Infections 5 Weeks Ago Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Kroger Condemned for Failing to Release Numbers on Worker Deaths and Infections and for Ending Hazard Pay for Millions of Grocery Workers 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking, food processing and other industries, hosted a national press call with leading reporters from across the country to address the fact that many of America’s largest supermarket and food retail companies – including Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon – have recently ended so-called “hazard or hero pay’ even as the pandemic continues across the country. Click here for the full video recording of the press conference.

During the call, UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on these companies to immediately reinstate this essential pay until the need to wear masks and other protective measures are no longer necessary.

As a measure of the real and growing risk of the public health crisis facing grocery workers, the UFCW also released new internal numbers that at least 68 grocery workers have died and more than 10,000 have been infected or exposed. During the call, UFCW called on every leading food retailer to ensure public health by releasing the number of their food retail and supermarket workers who have died or become sick and/or exposed to COVID-19.

Excerpts of prepared remarks by UFCW International President Marc Perrone are below:

“As this pandemic continues, the threat of this virus is real across every grocery store in America. Yet, most states and supermarket chains are still failing to enforce social distancing or mask wearing in stores to keep customers and workers safe. Even worse, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Kroger have failed to release internal numbers on worker deaths, infections, and exposure. Amazon even fired workers brave enough to speak out.

“Amazon, Whole Foods, Kroger, and other companies have shamefully announced pay cuts for millions of these workers on the frontlines, even as each company experiences record sales. When workers face higher risks, they should be paid more. These workers are not facing fewer hazards and are still putting themselves in harm’s way, interacting with thousands of customers a day, to help ensure our families have the food we need.

“While we hope some of these companies do change, and follow the lead of other national companies like Albertsons and Ahold who acted responsibly to extend this hazard pay, we are preparing options to ensure that every American knows which supermarket companies stood by their workers and their families and which did not. American consumers and workers deserve better and we will continue to stand with them.”

Grocery Workers Speak Out

As part of the call, Kroger grocery workers from across the country spoke about the serious risks they face, and how Kroger eliminating its ‘Hero Pay’ has had a damaging effect on them and their co-workers. The following are statements from these grocery workers.

“Five people in my household work for Kroger and together, we put in about 250 hours per week. When Kroger gave us ‘Hero Pay,’ it felt like we mattered and they were recognizing the risks we are taking. Every day, you fear that you might catch the virus at work. You fear that you might take the virus home to your family. I’ve had customers swear at me when we ask them to wear a mask. One customer even told me I might be dead in a month. After work each day, I want to cry, but I don’t have the tears to cry because it’s not going to make things better. We are working longer hours under stressful conditions. At my store, they take daily temperature scans, but the thermometers the company provides us don’t work. Kroger and all grocery companies need to provide the protective equipment, testing, and essential pay that all of us need so that we can keep our stores operating safely. Our lives are on the line,” said a Ralphs grocery worker in San Diego, California.

“There is a lot of fear in my store because of the virus. Every day, we prepare like we’re going into battle with the virus. We are exposed to thousands of people every day for hours and the reality is it only takes one person to expose an entire store. Kroger ended our ‘hero pay,’ but the crisis is not over. I face each day with anxiety and it gets worse when I see customers refuse to wear masks. I am a mother and my children need me to stay healthy,” said a Kroger meat department worker in Lansing, Michigan.

“Since the coronavirus outbreak began, I’ve been working 60-70 hours a week. As a cashier, it’s hard to social distance from customers. We put our lives on the line every day and I worry about taking the virus back to my grandchildren or husband. When Kroger took away our ‘Hero Pay,’it felt like a slap in the face. Because Kroger is not requiring our customers to wear masks, it’s putting us in jeopardy. The spread of the virus hasn’t stopped, so neither should the protections or ‘Hero Pay’ that our families need ,” said a Kroger cashier in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

“Since Kroger ended ‘Hero Pay,’ I’ve seen the morale in my store go down. My co-workers and I are facing the same struggles and risks, but now the company suddenly doesn’t want to recognize that. What changed? Kroger – and every supermarket company – should pay every grocery worker in America for the risk we are all facing, until this pandemic is over,” said a front-end Kroger worker in Columbus, Ohio.

 Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice calling for action to support and protect grocery workers who are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the UFCW sent a letter to the CEOs of top supermarket chains 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 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.

May 19, 2020

New Trump Guestworker Policy Exploits Coronavirus Outbreak, Threatens Safety of Workers & American Jobs

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union, with 250,000 Workers Across the Industry, Condemns New H-2B Visa Policy That Will Endanger Workers, American Jobs & U.S. Food Supply

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, condemned a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy removing limitations on the H-2B program for workers who are deemed essential to the food supply chain during the coronavirus outbreak. The new policy will make it easier for companies to eliminate American jobs and replace current employees with guest workers.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s brave meatpacking workers are not replaceable. They are putting their lives on the line every day, with dozens dying and over 10,000 infected, to make sure millions of Americans have the food they need during this deadly outbreak.

“When the Trump Administration forced meatpacking plants to reopen, but failed to enforce the strong safety standards needed, it put more American workers at risk. This new policy is a betrayal of America’s meatpacking workers, giving companies a free pass to ignore safety and push anyone who gets sick out of a job by replacing them with untrained guest workers.

“America’s food supply depends on our country’s meatpacking workers who have the skills and training needed to keep our food supply chain strong during this pandemic. An American president should be protecting American jobs and the food workers who are keeping our country running, not replacing them or exploiting this crisis to further enrich meatpacking companies.

“At a time when our economy is spiraling and our food supply is already under pressure, this decision is a direct threat to workers and represents a clear and present danger to public health and safety. Our country’s leaders – both Republicans and Democrats – must reject this move and stand up for the American workers helping to feed our families during this crisis.”

Background:

This past week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a Temporary Final Rule that will remove limitations on the H-2B program for workers who are deemed “essential to the U.S. food supply chain” and make it easier for employers to obtain guest workers for food manufacturing and processing.

This follows an effort in March 2020 by the National Pork Producers Council to pressure members of Congress and other U.S. Government officials to allow pork producers to hire more guest workers who would displace the hardworking Americans keeping these plants running.

UFCW has been the leading national voice calling for action to increase safety in meatpacking plants to protect workers and keep the U.S. food supply chain secure. In a recent letter to Vice President Pence, UFCW urgently called for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

 

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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.

May 15, 2020

Top Supermarket Chains Condemned for Ending COVID-19 Emergency Pay Even As Grocery Worker Deaths Increase

In Letter to 49 Supermarket CEOs, America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Urges Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods, and others to Immediately Extend COVID-19 so-called Hazard Pay For Frontline Grocery Workers  

Group Also Releases New Estimate: At Least 65 Grocery Workers Have Died, and 9,810 Have Been Infected or Exposed in COVID-19 Pandemic 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, sent a letter to 49 CEOs of top U.S. supermarket chains including Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods and many others condemning them for a failure to extend emergency pay and protections for grocery workers who are working on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.  

In the letter, UFCW International President Marc Perrone urged them to reverse the decision to end so-called hazard pay for their employees, and to publicly recognize that the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to cost lives all across the country. In fact, new internal UFCW estimates show that at least 65 grocery workers have died, and at least 9,810 have been infected or exposed to the deadly virus.  

In the letter, UFCW called for these CEOs, most of whom continue to work from home even as their workers face dangerous conditions, to do what is right and immediately extend hazard pay until the risk of the virus has abated.  

Today’s letter was sent directly to the CEOs of top supermarket chains across the country, including John Furner (Walmart Supercenters), Dan Bane (Trader Joe’s), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Craig Jelinek (Costco), Kathryn McLay (Sam’s Club), Todd Jones (Publix), and many others. Excerpts of the letter are included below: 

“Millions of American grocery workers have been rightfully called essential by our nation’s elected leaders. Given the daily risks faced, these workers deserve critical protections, benefits, and a higher wage for as long as this public health crisis endures. That your companies are even considering cutting the pay of these frontline workers, while you experience record sales, is shocking in its indifference. 

“Workers are still dying, including many of your own frontline employees. Every one of your grocery workers are still being asked to risk exposure to this virus and work in dangerous conditions that require them to wear protective equipment on the job. You are suggesting that frontline workers should work for less because the threat has diminished even as you and your entire executive teams continue to work from home.  

“If you truly believe that the threat of COVID-19 has passed for your workers, then you should be willing to admit this publicly. Until that day comes, you have a responsibility to provide your workers with essential protections and benefits, including so-called hero/appreciation/hazard pay, until this terrible threat has passed.  

“For the sake of these workers, our families, and our nation’s food supply, we ask you to remember your responsibility to ensure that these workers are receiving the premium pay that they have rightfully earned by facing the very risks that so many Americans—including all of you—have been lucky enough to avoid.”


Background: 

As of today, the UFCW estimates that at least 65 grocery workers have died and 9,810 workers have become sick or exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Please click here to read the full text of the UFCW letter, which was sent to the the CEOs of the following supermarket companies: 

  1. Walmart Supercenters – Bentonville, AR
  2. Costco Wholesale Corp. – Issaquah, WA
  3. Publix Super Markets Inc. – Lakeland, FL
  4. Sam’s Club – Bentonville, AR
  5. H-E-B – San Antonio, TX
  6. Whole Foods Market Inc. – Austin, TX
  7. Aldi Inc. – Batavia, IL
  8. Southeastern Grocers – Jacksonville, FL
  9. Wegmans Food Markets Inc. – Rochester, NY
  10. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. – Westborough, MA
  11. Hy-Vee Inc. – West Des Moines, IA
  12. WinCo Foods LLC – Boise, ID
  13. Save-A-Lot – Earth City, MO
  14. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. – Jacksonville, FL
  15. Sprouts Farmers Markets – Phoenix, AZ
  16. DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc. – Tewksbury, MA
  17. Smart & Final Stores LLC – Commerce, CA
  18. Ingles Markets Inc. – Black Mountain, NC
  19. Golub Corporation – Schenectady, NY
  20. IGA Inc. – Chicago, IL
  21. Lidl US LLC – Arlington, VA
  22. K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. – Abingdon, VA
  23. Brookshire Grocery Co. – Tyler, TX
  24. Grocery Outlet Inc. – Emeryville, CA
  25. Big Y Foods Inc. – Springfield, MA
  26. Gordon Food Service Store – Wyoming, MI
  27. The Fresh Market Inc. – Greensboro, NC
  28. Bashas’ Inc. – Chandler, AZ
  29. Cardenas Markets LLC – Ontario, CA
  30. Fareway Stores Inc. – Boone, IA
  31. Woodman’s Food Markets Inc. – Janesville, WI
  32. Rouses Enterprises LLC – Thibodaux, LA
  33. Marc Glassman Inc. – Cleveland, OH
  34. Lowes Pay and Save Inc. – Littlefield, TX
  35. Redner’s Markets Inc. – Reading, PA
  36. Brookshire Brothers Ltd. – Lufkin, TX
  37. Four B Corp. – Kansas City, KS
  38. Associated Food Stores – Salt Lake City, UT
  39. Niemann Foods Inc. – Quincy, IL
  40. Cosentino’s Food Stores – Prairie Village, KS
  41. All American Quality Food Inc. – Stockbridge, GA
  42. Food Giant Supermarkets Inc. – Sikeston, MO
  43. Harmon City Inc. – West Valley City, UT
  44. Sedano’s Supermarkets Inc. – Hialeah, FL
  45. Stew Leonard’s – Norwalk, CT
  46. Fresh Encounter Inc. – Findlay, OH
  47. B & R Stores Inc. – Lincoln, NE
  48. ABC Stores Hawaii – Honolulu, HI
  49. Aurora Grocery Group – Charlotte, NC 

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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.

May 8, 2020

Trump Order to Re-Open 14 Meatpacking Plants Fails to Increase Coronavirus Testing and Safety Measures Needed to Protect Food Supply & Workers

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Calls Rush to Re-Open Plants Without Safety Improvements Dangerous Move for Long-Term Security of U.S. Food Supply Chain

Union Announces 30 Meatpacking Worker Deaths, 40 Percent Drop in Pork Production Capacity, 25 Percent Drop in Beef Production Capacity  

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union – which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers across the country – announced its opposition to the re-opening of 14 meatpacking plants under the recent executive order by President Trump, raising concerns about the serious safety issues at these facilities that put workers and the food supply at risk.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s meatpacking workers are putting their lives on the line every day to make sure our families have the food they need during this pandemic. Meatpacking plants did not close because anyone wants them to close. These plants closed because at least 30 workers died and more than 10,000 workers have been infected or exposed to COVID-19.

“Today’s rush by the Trump Administration to re-open 14 meatpacking plants without the urgent safety improvements needed is a reckless move that will put American lives at risk and further endanger the long-term security of our nation’s food supply.

“Since the executive order was announced by President Trump, the Administration has failed to take the urgent action needed to enact clear and enforceable safety standards at these meatpacking plants. We are calling on the White House to end the delays and immediately mandate that all meatpacking companies provide the highest level of protective equipment, ensure daily testing is available for all meatpacking workers, enforce physical distancing at all plants, provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected, and establish constant monitoring by federal inspectors to ensure these safety standards are enforced. We cannot wait any longer.” 

Background:

UFCW recently sent a letter to Vice President Pence urgently calling for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed at least 30 meatpacking worker deaths. The union also announced that new estimates show at least 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 45,000 workers impacted and a 40 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 25 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

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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.

April 29, 2020

UFCW Calls on All U.S. Governors to Enforce CDC Guidelines to Protect Food Supply and Meatpacking Workers From Coronavirus Outbreak

Union for 250,000 Meatpacking Workers Calls on All States for Immediate Enforcement of Safety Standards As Trump Order Mandates Plants Remain Open 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing all across the country workers, sent a letter to National Governors Association as well as every state’s governor in the country, calling on governors to protect meatpacking and poultry workers during the coronavirus outbreak. The letter was sent as it was reported that President Trump was taking executive action to mandate that meatpacking and poultry plants remain open.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Meatpacking and poultry workers have been working tirelessly through this health crisis so that millions of Americans continue to have access to the food they need. President Trump’s executive order now mandates that they continue to do so, without any language that ensures their safety. Let me be clear, the best way to protect America’s food supply, to keep these plants open, is to protect America’s meatpacking workers.  

“Every governor has the ability to take key steps and additional safety actions to protect these workers and it is imperative that they do so immediately. To protect our food supply and workers, strong, enforceable safety standards must be implemented in every meatpacking plant. These safety standards must ensure all workers have access to testing and personal protective equipment, social distancing is enforced, and paid sick leave is provided to all workers so that no one comes to work sick.  

“In order to protect our nation’s food supply as President Trump is calling for us to do, we must work together to keep the hard-working men and women in these plants safe. Now, more than ever, this must be a priority for all of our state and national leaders” 

Background:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidelines on April 26 for meatpacking and poultry workers and employees. In the new letter to governors, UFCW calls the guidelines a step in the right direction but asks governors to both enforce those guidelines and issue additional protective measures.  

The complete letter which can be seen here calls on U.S. governors to enforce CDC guidelines and to issue the following additional measures to protect:

  • Enforce Physical Distancing: Plants must reconfigure the workplace to achieve physical distancing of at least 6 feet, between workers, both on the production floor and off.  Barriers, such as plexiglass barriers, should be used only to reinforce the 6 feet distancing, not as a substitute for 6 feet distancing.  CDC/OSHA does not make this statement, but this type of distancing may require the speed of the line to be reduced, in order to achieve a reduction or minimization in the spread of the virus.
  • Provide Respirators: All workers on the production floor should be provided with N-95 respirators, which will provide the level of protection needed to protect workers from inhaling virus particles.  Employers must additionally do the following to maintain the integrity of the respirators;
      1. Provide a new respirator at the beginning of every shift.
      2. Provide fit-testing.  Replace respirators if damaged or contaminated.
      3. Follow the current CDC guidelines for disinfecting and storing respirators, if respirators are reused.
      4. Provide training on proper donning and doffing procedures, in languages workers understand.
      5. Provide additional time for hand hygiene and for proper donning and doffing of respirators.
  • Provide Testing: All workers, including management, who are currently working in the plant, should be tested for COVID-19.  Ideally, rapid testing of workers, as they enter the workplace, would ensure that workers carrying the virus are not entering the workplace.
  • Provide Mandatory Paid Quarantine: Should a positive case of COVID-19 be identified in the workplace, those in close contact with the infected individual should be identified as well and paid to stay home for the full two weeks.  This would ensure more workers are not infected, or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • Protect Workers From Retaliation: The UFCW believes that 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.  Workers must be encouraged to report any symptoms of illness, or of COVID-19, while at work, as well as any other safety and health hazards, and not suffer any negative consequences for doing so.  

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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.

April 28, 2020

UFCW: Trump Order to Keep Meatpacking Plants Open Must Include Immediate Action to Strengthen Coronavirus Testing and Safety Measures

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Calls on White House to Immediately Increase Worker Testing, Access to Protective Equipment, and Federal Oversight to Ensure the Safety of All U.S. Meatpacking Plants  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest meatpacking union with 250,000 members across the industry, called on President Trump to take immediate action to support his new order that all meatpacking plants remain open during the coronavirus outbreak.  

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:  

“To protect America’s food supply, America’s meatpacking workers must be protected. The reality is that these workers are putting their lives on the line every day to keep our country fed during this deadly outbreak, and at least 20 meatpacking workers have tragically died from coronavirus while more than 5,000 workers have been hospitalized or are showing symptoms. For the sake of all our families, we must prioritize the safety and security of these workers.  

“While we share the concern over the food supply, today’s executive order to force meatpacking plants to stay open must put the safety of our country’s meatpacking workers first. Simply put, we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers. We urge the Administration to immediately enact clear and enforceable safety standards that compel all meatpacking companies to provide the highest level of protective equipment through access to the federal stockpile of PPE, ensure daily testing is available for workers and their communities, enforce physical distancing at all plants, and provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected. Additionally, to protect the food supply and ensure these safety standards for workers are enforced, these plants must be constantly monitored by federal inspectors and workers must have access to representation to ensure their rights are not violated. 

“All of our country’s elected leaders – federal and state – must work together to ensure that we keep these essential workers safe and our country’s food supply secure.” 

Background 

In the last week, UFCW sent a letter to Vice President Pence urgently calling for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19. 

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed 20 worker deaths in meatpacking and food processing. In addition, at least 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers have been directly impacted by the virus. Those directly impacted include individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic. 

UFCW announced today that new estimates show 22 meatpacking plants have closed including union and non-union plants at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 35,000 workers impacted and a 25 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 10 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity

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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.

 

April 28, 2020

UFCW Releases Statement on Workers Memorial Day & Announces Worker Deaths from Coronavirus 

America’s Largest Retail & Food Union Announces 72 Worker Deaths in Grocery, Retail, Meatpacking, and Other Industries; and Over 5,000 Workers Directly Impacted by Coronavirus During Outbreak

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members in grocery stores, pharmacies, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses, released a new update on the growing number of frontline workers who have been exposed, sick, and died from COVID-19.

According to the UFCW’s internal reports, which were released on Workers Memorial Day, there have been at least 72 worker deaths and 5,322 workers directly impacted among UFCW members. This covers grocery, retail, pharmacy, meatpacking, and other essential industries and those directly impacted include workers who tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic.

On Workers Memorial Day, UFCW is calling on America’s elected and corporate leaders, as well as American shoppers, to take immediate steps to protect these workers before more lives are lost.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s frontline workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, meatpacking plants, and many other essential businesses are putting their lives on the line every day to ensure families have the food and medicine they need to stay safe during this crisis. These workers never signed up to be first responders in an emergency, but that is exactly what they are now and they need protections immediately before more lives are needlessly lost.

“The human cost to America’s food, retail, and commercial workers is real and growing. From grocery stores to meatpacking plants, from senior care facilities to pharmacies, the impact on workers’ lives from this coronavirus is beyond tragic – and this crisis must be stopped before it gets worse.

“As we remember all of America’s brave frontline workers, across every industry, who have died from COVID-19, we are calling on all of our country’s leaders in the White House, in Congress, and states across the country to strengthen safety standards and take immediate action to protect the millions of workers who are keeping our communities strong throughout the crisis. American lives are on the line. We cannot wait any longer. We need action now.”

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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.

April 28, 2020

UFCW: Tyson and All Meatpacking Companies Must Act Immediately to Protect American Workers & Food Supply

Union Representing 250,000 Meatpacking Workers Calls for Industry to Strengthen Safety and Transparency, Support First Responder Status for These Workers on Frontlines

Union Announces New Numbers on Increase in Meatpacking Worker Deaths and Plant Closures During Coronavirus Outbreak  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest meatpacking union, called on Tyson and all companies in the industry to make good on the promise of the Tyson New York Times advertisement with immediate action to protect these frontline workers across the country. UFCW is calling on the meatpacking industry to strengthen transparency on plant safety and immediately join the union in calling for these workers to be designated as first responders during the outbreak.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s meatpacking workers and our nation’s food supply are in greater danger every day that companies and leaders fail to act during this outbreak. It is clear that our food supply chain is threatened, and that is why our country’s elected and corporate leaders must act now.

“Tyson and every company across this vital industry, must immediately join with UFCW in calling for federal and state elected leaders to designate these frontline workers as first responders. Temporary first responder status ensures these workers have priority access to the COVID-19 testing and protective equipment they need to continue doing these essential jobs. Our federal leaders must enforce clear guidelines to ensure every employer lives up to the high safety standards these workers deserve and the American people expect.

“Meatpacking companies must increase transparency around their safety efforts to ensure that meatpacking workers, elected leaders, and the communities they serve know exactly what steps they are taking to keep workers safe and our food supply secure. Simply put, given the nature of this COVID-19 crisis, words are not enough. American workers and families across the country cannot wait any longer. Our elected leaders and companies across the industry must act now.”


Background:

In the last week, UFCW sent a letter to Vice President Pence urgently called for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

UFCW recently released new updates on the serious and deadly impact of the Covid-19 virus on meatpacking plants across the country, but those numbers have increased in recent days.

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed 20 worker deaths in meatpacking and food processing. In addition, at least 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers have been directly impacted by the virus. Those directly impacted include individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, or have been hospitalized, and/or are symptomatic.

UFCW announced today that new estimates show 22 meatpacking plants have closed – including union and non-union plants – at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 35,000 workers impacted and a 25 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 10 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity.

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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

 

April 27, 2020

Stop & Shop and UFCW Issue Joint Statement Calling For Grocery Workers To Be Classified As First Responders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Stop & Shop and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) issued a joint statement calling on federal and state governments to designate associates at grocery stores as “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel.”

Stop & Shop and UFCW additionally announced that a 10 percent increase in pay for union hourly store associates would be extended through May 30. Stop & Shop and UFCW first announced the pay increase on March 22, along with flexible hours for associates and up to two weeks of additional paid sick leave for associates required to quarantine by government authorities or by the company.

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

“Stop & Shop workers, who are also UFCW members, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York have worked to make sure that families have the food and groceries they need during these difficult times. Make no mistake, Stop & Shop associates are essential workers and they deserve essential protections.

“Stop & Shop and UFCW have worked together to provide these workers with benefits and protections during this health crisis, including emergency pay raises, additional paid sick leave, and access to KN95 masks and face shields, but even more can be done for these workers.

“We are urgently requesting our nation’s state and federal leaders temporarily designate these workers as first responders or emergency personnel. This critical status would help ensure our state’s essential grocery workers have priority access to testing, emergency childcare, and other protections to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

“For the sake of workers, their families, and our nation’s food supply, this action will provide grocery workers with the vital protections they deserve.”

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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