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America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls for Action to Prioritize Safety of Frontline Workers Essential to Food Supply Chain During COVID-19

August 24, 2020 Updated: September 27, 2020

Grocery Worker with Mask and Shield

Following President Trump’s North Carolina Visit, UFCW Calls on Elected Leaders for Action on Hazard Pay, National Mask Mandate, Workplace Safety Union Confirms Over 250 Food Worker Deaths, With Over 36,000 Food Workers Infected or Exposed to COVID-19

WASHINGTON, DC – Following today’s President Trump visit to a produce facility in North Carolina, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking, food processing, and other industries essential to the U.S. food supply during the pandemic – called for the White House and all elected leaders to support these frontline workers with action on hazard pay, a national mask mandate, and stronger workplace safety standards. 

Since the pandemic began, there have been over 250 food worker deaths and over 36,000 food workers infected or exposed to COVID-19 in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and food processing facilities.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement: 

“America’s food workers have been on the frontlines of this public health crisis, and their safety must come first. Frontline workers across the food supply chain have been putting themselves in harm’s way to help put food on the plates of all Americans every day of this pandemic. This is not about politics. This is about the safety of millions of American food workers who are essential to our country’s food supply.

“President Trump and all of our elected leaders have a responsibility to stand up for these brave American workers. A strong national agenda for America’s food workers must include hazard pay for the risks these workers are facing, a national mask mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19, increased access to COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment, and enforcement of clear safety standards for all essential frontline workers for as long as this pandemic continues.

“Every day, more of our country’s frontline food workers are getting sick and dying from this terrible virus. Our elected leaders must act to protect these workers and keep our food supply chain secure. We cannot wait any longer.”


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

Today, UFCW confirmed that among the union’s members there have been at least 103 grocery worker deaths and over 14,300 grocery workers infected or exposed to COVID-19. Additionally, UFCW confirmed that there have been at least 115 meatpacking worker deaths and over 17,700 meatpacking workers infected or exposed to the virus. 

In food processing plants, the union confirmed there have been at least 35 food processing worker deaths and more than 4,900 food processing workers infected or exposed.


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 ufcw.org

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