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UFCW: Governors Must Act on CDC Vaccine Priority for Essential Workers, Expedite Distribution as COVID-19 Infections Threaten Millions of Workers Still on Frontlines

December 22, 2020 Updated: December 23, 2020

Pittsburgh VA Administers Pfizer Vaccinations

Union for 1.3 Million Essential Workers in Food and Retail Applauds CDC Guidance, Calls on States to Guarantee Free Vaccine Access for Workers

UFCW Calls on Grocery and Meatpacking CEOs to Provide Paid Holiday to Ensure All Essential Workers Can Take COVID Vaccine

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million essential workers in food and retail, applauded the new CDC recommendation to prioritize essential workers for COVID vaccine access in the next round of distribution. UFCW said the CDC move is a critical first step, but made clear that governors in all 50 states must expedite vaccine distribution and guarantee access for essential workers. On the NBC TODAY Show, UFCW called on CEOs to provide a paid holiday to their workers to further incentivize rapid vaccine adoption. Click here for full video.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“The CDC move to prioritize essential workers for the COVID vaccine is a critical first step, but governors in all 50 states must act to expedite distribution and guarantee free access to the vaccine for these 30 million American workers on the frontlines.

“America’s essential workers are bravely putting themselves in harm’s way in grocery stores and meatpacking plants to feed our families. Many of these workers are serving our communities without hazard pay after company cuts, despite the growing health risks from recent spikes in COVID-19 cases. With new COVID-19 outbreaks in grocery stores and other frontline businesses, hundreds of these essential workers have already died and thousands more are infected daily as they help to keep our food supply secure.

“As the largest union for America’s essential workers in food and retail, UFCW is calling on CEOs in these industries to immediately work with governors to guarantee access to the vaccine for their frontline employees. These businesses must also provide a paid holiday to all of their employees who receive the vaccine. With the economic crisis hurting so many families, no worker should have to choose between a paycheck and getting the vaccine that will protect their health.”

BACKGROUND:

UFCW released new COVID-19 infection numbers today, announcing that among the union’s members across the country there have already been at least:

  • 363 frontline worker deaths and over 63,000 frontline workers infected or exposed
  • 116 grocery worker deaths and 20,750 grocery workers infected or exposed
  • 130 meatpacking worker deaths and 20,600 meatpacking workers infected or exposed

UFCW has been leading the push to support grocery workers still on the frontlines of the pandemic. This past week, the union successfully advanced new grocery worker hazard pay measures in Long Beach and Los Angeles, the first cities in the country acting to restore pandemic pay, a critical lifeline for workers and their families. This comes amid an explosion in COVID-19 grocery outbreaks in Los Angeles and Seattle. In recent weeks, UFCW’s national hazard pay campaign secured new deals helping over 120,000 grocery workers across the country. 

With COVID-19 infections in meatpacking plants continuing, UFCW has condemned the failure of the Trump Administration to hold employers accountable for worker safety and called for the federal government to implement an enforceable national safety standard, increase access to PPE and COVID-19 testing, and conduct rigorous proactive inspections.

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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