Union for 1.3 Million Essential Food and Retail Workers Spotlights Vaccine Access Barriers for UFCW’s 400,000 Workers of Color on Pandemic Frontlines
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million essential food and retail workers — with workers of color making up more than one-third of its members in grocery, healthcare, meatpacking, and other industries — announced it partnered with the CDC and health experts on a new UFCW Latino vaccine townhall.
UFCW’s townhall is part of the union’s national push to close the vaccine gap for Latino essential workers and other workers of color on the frontlines of COVID. UFCW has been a leader in digital vaccine education outreach as well as ongoing vaccine clinics to reach workers of color in California, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Delaware, and many other states across the country.
The UFCW Latino vaccine townhall kicked off a new UFCW vaccine education campaign for the union’s essential workers nationwide.New research shows Latinos are only 13 percent of U.S. vaccinations despite the fact they represent nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. population. Click here to watch full video of the UFCW Latino vaccine townhall.
The townhall featured Dr. José Romero, CDC Vaccine Panel Chair; Dr. Fabian Sandoval, Emerson Clinical Research Institute President; and UFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas, who represents over 17,000 essential workers across Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
UFCW Local 2 President Martin Rosas: “The COVID vaccines offer us a glimmer of hope and much-needed protection. This is a critical time when we need education and transparency and this is why UFCW wants to make sure all our members know the facts. We must raise awareness in our community. In many countries, people are suffering without access to the vaccine. In this country we are blessed because currently those over 16 years of age who want to be vaccinated can be vaccinated today. With the information provided in this townhall, we are raising awareness among our entire community so that more decide to get vaccinated.”
CDC Vaccine Advisory Panel Chair Dr. José Romero: “As Latinos we have it ingrained that we have to work even if we are sick. Many Latinos refer to COVID-19 as just a cold. I want to tell you that is not true. It is a very severe disease that can cause death and can even have effects that last for years after the disease. This is why we want everyone to take the vaccine. I want parents to take the opportunity to vaccinate teenagers because the disease can be very serious in young people. It can cause hospitalizations and even death. Even if they are healthy, they have to receive this vaccine. Please take the vaccine because it is for you. Please, parents, accept it for your teenagers and when it is approved for children, give it to them too.”
Emerson Clinical Research Institute President Dr. Fabian Sandoval:“We are joining this UFCW townhall because we want to save lives. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the vaccine. Don’t listen to gossip. Gossip is what kills people. We are urging everyone in our community to trust health care professionals and get vaccinated as soon as possible so that we can protect ourselves and our families.”
UFCW has been a leading national voice for frontline workers. UFCW represents over 400,000 workers of color and has highlighted the fact that its members are essential workers in grocery stores and meatpacking plants who are disproportionately workers of color.
Black and brown retail workers already faced large disparities in pay, scheduling, and advancement in their workplaces before the current crisis. These workers also make up a disproportionate number of workers in jobs with the highest injury risks.
More than 80% of Black workers and 83% of Latinx workers are unable to work from home, further highlighting the heightened risk these workers and communities face on the frontlines as the pandemic continues.
COVID NUMBERS: UFCW recently confirmed that COVID-19 continues to threaten essential food workers nationwide. Since March 1, UFCW reports a nearly 30 percent increase in grocery worker deaths and a 24 percent increase in grocery workers infected or exposed following supermarket outbreaks at Whole Foods, Costco, Trader 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:
- 456 frontline worker deaths and at least 91,400 frontline workers infected or exposed
- 179 grocery worker deaths and at least 40,300 grocery workers infected or exposed
- 132 meatpacking worker deaths and 22,200 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.