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New Jersey Retail Workers Union Applauds Gov. Murphy Action to Continue State Mask Mandate and Put Public Health and Safety First as Pandemic Continues

May 16, 2021

Grocery Worker Mask Mandate

Union for 52,000 Frontline New Jersey Workers, Calls on Governors in Other States to Follow Lead of Gov. Murphy and Keep COVID Safety Measures as Leaders Push to Increase Vaccinations for Those Still at Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million essential food and retail workers — including 52,000 New Jersey frontline workers, applauded Governor Phil Murphy for his action to maintain New Jersey’s statewide mask mandate and other vital COVID safety measures. 

The UFCW criticized the CDC’s new indoor mask guidance for vaccinated people, saying it will force frontline retail workers in New Jersey and across the country to play “vaccination police” to determine which customers need to follow mask mandates still in place in many regions and businesses. UFCW is calling on states across the country to follow the lead of Gov. Murphy in New Jersey and Governor David Ige in Hawaii and put public health and safety first by maintaining mask mandates and other COVID safety measures.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“New Jersey frontline grocery workers have put their lives on the line daily to make sure families have the food they need during this pandemic. Governor Murphy is showing the leadership New Jersey workers and families need by putting public health and safety first and keeping the state’s mask mandate in place. 

“While vaccinations are helping us slow the spread of COVID, the pandemic is far from over and we cannot let our guard down. As the union for frontline food and retail workers in New Jersey and across the country, UFCW is calling on governors to follow the lead of states like New Jersey and Hawaii that are doing the right thing by keeping these life-saving mask mandates in place as we work to vaccinate the millions of Americans still at risk as this pandemic continues.”


UFCW has been a leading national voice for frontline workers and secured a new COVID hazard pay deal at ShopRite for 50,000 grocery workers in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut in November 2020 after many retailers cut that pay, despite the ongoing danger from the pandemic.

UFCW was one of the first groups to call on elected and business leaders to enact strong COVID safety measures like mask mandates when the pandemic first began.

COVID NUMBERS: UFCW recently confirmed that COVID-19 continues to threaten essential food workers nationwide. Since March 1, UFCW reports a nearly 35 percent increase in grocery worker deaths and a nearly 30 percent increase in grocery workers infected or exposed following supermarket outbreaks at Whole FoodsCostcoTrader Joe’s and other chains across the country. According to new UFCW estimates, among the union’s members nationwide, there have already been at least:

  • 462 frontline worker deaths and at least 93,300 frontline workers infected or exposed
  • 184 grocery worker deaths and at least 41,700 grocery workers infected or exposed 
  • 132 meatpacking worker deaths and 22,290 meatpacking workers infected or exposed 


UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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

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