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VIDEO: Vice President Kamala Harris COVID Roundtable Highlights Risks for Frontline Workers, American Rescue Plan Funding to Expand Vaccine Access for Essential Workers

March 12, 2021 Updated: March 18, 2021

Union for 1.3 Million Essential Workers in Food & Retail Urges States to Use New COVID Relief Funding to Expedite Vaccine Distribution to Grocery and Meatpacking Workers Facing Daily COVID Risks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a White House roundtable with Vice President Kamala Harris and national leaders, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million frontline workers, highlighted how the American Rescue Plan will strengthen workplace safety and help states expand vaccine access for essential workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other businesses hit hard by COVID-19 outbreaks. UFCW recently reported that over 30 states are delaying vaccine access for essential workers and is calling on governors for action. Click here for video of the event with Vice President Harris.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone delivered the following remarks:

“Millions of Americans and frontline workers have endured a life-altering pandemic. Covid-19 has redefined how we work, the risks workers face. Given the threat frontline grocery and food workers face, this vaccine funding will be vital to helping ensure these vital workers get vaccinated – and vaccinated quickly. This legislation sends a powerful message that the responsibility to care for workers is a responsibility that we all share; and that all of us, especially our corporate and elected leaders, must put the interests of others above their own.”

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the following remarks:

“Marc Perrone, you and I have been working together for years, having conversations about the dignity of the workers who stock grocery shelves and the workers who pack and process our food. You are fighting for the dignity and rights of those essential workers. These workers have been struggling to stay on the job safely. The bill is about supporting working folks and appreciating the dignity of work, supporting working families. Essential workers who should not be treated like sacrificial workers, but should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

BACKGROUND:

UFCW has been a leading national voice in the call to protect essential workers and recently confirmed that among the union’s members on the frontlines of the pandemic across the country, there have now been at least:

  • 398 frontline worker deaths and over 79,900 frontline workers infected or exposed 
  • 139 grocery worker deaths and 32,200 grocery workers infected or exposed 
  • 132 meatpacking worker deaths and 22,000 meatpacking workers infected or exposed

The White House roundtable with Vice President Harris also featured Nadiyah Johnson, Wisconsin small business owner – CEO of Jet Constellations; Ron Busby, US Black Chambers of Commerce President, Mayor McKinley Price, African American Mayors Association President, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, MomsRising Executive Director, Dr. Samir Balile, Pharmacist at Giant Food, and Danielle Romanetti, Virginia small business owner of Fibre Space.

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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