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UFCW talks to MSNBC on the risks of leaving Instacart & grocery workers unprotected during the coronavirus outbreak

March 29, 2020 Updated: September 8, 2020

handle of freezer in grocery store
Woman shopping in the supermarket for some groceries

[vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WenLeg4CVr4&feature=youtu.be”]

ALICIA MENENDEZ: With me now is Marc Perrone, he is the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. The UFCW represents Instacart employees in the Chicago area as well as many other grocery store clerks and food processing workers all across the U.S. and Canada. Thank you so much for being with me. Can you give me a sense, Marc, of what these workers are up against?

MARC PERRONE: Well, Alicia, I think they’re up against their health. If they don’t provide the protective equipment that they need, rapid testing, if they don’t provide hand sanitizer, and disposable wipes so that they can clean the surfaces of their vehicles, as well as their hands, they have a very good possibility that they could contract the virus.

They also have the possibility of being able to spread the virus because of the fact that they’re going into all these transmission points to pick up groceries and bring them to different people. You have to think about it for a second. If somebody is getting their groceries delivered to them, they may be under quarantine and if they are under quarantine, it would be a good reason for them to have the protective equipment that they so desperately need.

I also believe that they should be provided with masks. Look, I know that the health care providers, as well as our fire and our police need those masks desperately. But we ultimately need to get those masks into production so that people that are in these transmission points can use them as well to protect themselves and the customers that they are dealing with.

MENENDEZ: There have been discussions within your union, I understand, about designating these workers as emergency responders. How would that designation help?

PERRONE: Well, I think that the designation would help as it relates to the testing. If they get the testing faster as well as the results of those tests can come back faster. In addition to that, a lot of these workers because they may be single mothers are having difficulty finding child care and it would give them access to some of the subsidies that the federal government put in this last bill at $3.5 billion.

And additionally, at some point in time, it would put them in the queue to receive masks once our production in the country got up to the point that we could cover our health care workers as well as our fire, our EMTs, and our police. I think that’s critical.

Unfortunately, there was a big error, a failure as it related to the testing. I think it’s also a failure as it related to our supplies that we needed in order to protect all these people that are out there working every single day trying to make sure we have food on the table and that we’re taking care of if we go to the hospital or if we have to be picked up by an ambulance service.

For updates related to COVID-19, please visit www.ufcw.org/coronavirus. 

If you are a worker experiencing an issue at your workplace related to COVID-19, please report it to us online.

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