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UFCW Statement on Biden COVID Relief Plan

January 15, 2021 Updated: January 25, 2021

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls Biden COVID Plan Strong Step to Protect Essential Workers with Expanded Safety Measures, Vaccine Funding, Hazard Pay for Frontline Risks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers, praised the new COVID-19 relief plan announced by President-elect Joe Biden as a strong first step to protect and support essential workers in grocery stores and meatpacking plants on the frontlines of the pandemic. UFCW is calling on Congress to build on this proposal to deliver the bipartisan relief package Americans desperately need as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket across the country.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“President-elect Biden’s COVID relief plan is a strong first step to taking control of the pandemic and providing Americans with the essential relief they need as this crisis continues. 

“With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing, America’s essential workers in grocery stores and meatpacking plants are more at risk than ever before and need action to support them on the frontlines. Despite the growing hazards these essential workers face, many companies in these industries have cut hazard pay and abandoned many of the safety measures still needed to protect workers on the job. 

“President-elect Biden’s plan puts essential workers first by creating a national COVID-19 safety standard to protect those on the frontlines, expanding paid sick leave for all workers, calling on companies to provide retroactive and ongoing hazard pay for essential workers, and increasing funding for COVID testing, PPE, and vaccine distribution. 

“Companies that employ essential workers, whether in grocery stores or meatpacking plants, must realize that they can no longer ignore health and safety concerns and the need for hazard pay. 

“For the sake of all essential and frontline grocery and food workers, Congress must now act quickly to build on the blueprint President-elect Biden’s COVID relief plan provides and pass a strong bipartisan bill that delivers the critical assistance that America’s essential workers need as this crisis continues.”

BACKGROUND:

UFCW has been a leading national voice for frontline workers during the pandemic and recently highlighted the impact on the union’s essential workers:

  • 374 frontline worker deaths and over 69,900 frontline workers infected or exposed 
  • 124 grocery worker deaths and 25,760 grocery workers infected or exposed 
  • 131 meatpacking worker deaths and 20,900 meatpacking workers infected or exposed

President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan announced today will make critical investments in protecting and supporting America’s essential workers. Key provisions include:

  • Call on CEOs to Provide Hazard Pay to Frontline Essential Workers: Biden’s plan calls on employers, especially in grocery and retail, to recognize the risks faced by their essential workers and provide retroactive and ongoing hazard pay to frontline employees.
  • Create Strong National Vaccination Program: Biden’s plan invests $20 billion in a national vaccination program in partnership with states. The plan would launch community vaccination centers around the country and deploy mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach areas. The plan ensures vaccine access is free to all in the United States.
  • Establish National COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standard: Biden’s plan calls on Congress to authorize OSHA to issue a COVID-19 Protection Standard that covers a broad set of workers. Biden’s plan calls on Congress to provide additional funding for OSHA enforcement to help keep vulnerable workers healthy and safe from COVID-19.
  • Scale Up COVID Testing to Stop the Spread of Virus: Biden’s plan invests $50 billion in a massive expansion of testing, providing funds for the purchase of rapid tests and support to help local governments implement regular testing protocols. Expanded testing will ensure that any American can get a test for free when they need one.
  • Provide Expanded Paid Sick and Family and Medical Leave. Biden plan will provide over 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave to help parents with additional caregiving responsibilities when a child or loved one’s school or care center is closed; for people who have or are caring for people with COVID-19 symptoms, or who are quarantining due to exposure; and for people needing to take time to get the vaccine.

Click here to read the full details of President-elect Biden’s COVID relief plan.

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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