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UFCW Statement on Shocking Congressional Report About Trump Administration Endangerment of Essential Workers in Meatpacking Industry

May 13, 2022

House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Staff Report Reveals Collusion Between Trump Admin, Employers to Prioritize Profits Over People

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential industries across North America, responded to a shocking report released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on the failure to protect workers in the meatpacking industry at the height of the pandemic.

The report, released today, reveals that the Trump Administration went out of its way to scale back worker protections at the request of industry lobbyists and failed in its responsibility to protect workers across the meatpacking industry, who experienced some of the most deadly outbreaks.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Today’s report confirms what we already knew – the Trump Administration’s negligence and unethical actions endangered America’s meatpacking workers and their families at the height of the pandemic.

“UFCW repeatedly sounded the alarm about the Trump Administration’s failed oversight of the industry and its inability to protect the people that kept food on our nation’s tables. This report shows that their failure was not only tragic, but a deliberate attempt to put industry profits ahead of the people just trying to make a living.

“This report shows that the nation is in desperate need of a comprehensive meat processing safety bill. As the union that represents the largest share of America’s meatpacking workers, with over 250,000 hard-working members in this industry, we are fully committed to ensuring that meatpacking jobs include the health and safety standards these skilled workers deserve and call on all lawmakers to immediately take steps to make that happen.”

Background:

Throughout the pandemic, UFCW has been the leading national voice for essential workers across frontline industries, especially in the meatpacking, grocery, and retail space.

UFCW repeatedly called on the Trump Administration to take worker safety more seriously during the first year of the pandemic, including efforts to directly appeal to Vice President Mike Pence who was then leading the White House task force.

UFCW also testified in front of several Congressional committees, including the same one releasing today’s report on the experience of meatpacking workers during COVID, successfully negotiated the first national US agreement to provide paid sick leave to meatpacking workers, and supported the effort to confront safety failures in wrongful death lawsuits against major meatpacking employers.

In the latest data compiled, UFCW confirmed that among the union’s members nationwide, there have been at least 505 frontline worker deaths and at least 131,295 frontline workers infected or exposed. That tally includes at least 135 meatpacking worker deaths and 24,395 meatpacking workers infected or exposed.

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The UFCW 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.