As Holiday Shopping ‘Surges,’ The UFCW Calls On Retailers To ‘Strengthen’ COVID Protections & Reinstate Hazard Pay - There’ve Been More Than 100 Grocery Worker Deaths & 17,000-Plus Infected Or Exposed Since The Pandemic Began
With holiday shoppers packing grocery stores, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) - which represents 1.3 million Workers in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, health care, retail and other industries, has renewed its demand on retailers for improved COVID-19 protection and safety measures, as well as reinstating Hazard Pay Programs for Front Line Workers.
“America’s Essential Workers ‘are facing a Holiday Season of unparalleled danger’ as COVID-19 cases ‘explode’ across the country,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said. “With more than one million ‘new’ COVID-19 cases in the past week and deaths ‘spiking to unprecedented levels,’ we are ‘entering what could be the deadliest phase of this pandemic for millions of America’s Essential/Front Line Workers.’”
The UFCW reported that among the Union’s Members, there have been at least 350 Front Line Worker deaths - including 109 Grocery Worker deaths from COVID-19.
In addition, the Union reported there have been at least 48,000 Front Line Workers infected or exposed, including over 17,400 Grocery Workers infected or exposed to the virus.
“Simply put, Front Line Workers ‘are terrified’ because their employers and our elected leaders ‘are not doing enough to protect them and stop the spread of this virus,’” Perrone said. “As holiday shopping begins this Thanksgiving, ‘we are already seeing a huge surge of customer traffic.’ ‘Unless we take immediate actions beginning this holiday week, many more Essential Workers will become sick and more, tragically, will die.’ ‘As this threat of this pandemic grows, so will the threat to our communities - and our food supply.’ Given the spikes in Covid-19 cases and deaths we are all witnessing, ‘it is time for our elected leaders and this nation’s food and retail CEOs to take immediate action.’”
Perrone outlined new initiatives the UFCW is taking to pressure retailers and elected leaders, including the Holiday Shop Smart Campaign, a customer safety education effort targeting regions with major COVID-19 spikes, and a call on the Nation’s governors to immediately adopt stronger and uniform COVID-19 Safety Standards at all food and retail stores across the entire country.
Most significantly, UFCW is sending a letter to top retail and grocery CEOs outlining the following priorities to support Workers for as long as the current spike in cases persists.
These include: Free Covid-19 testing for Front Line Workers; Free PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) for Front Line Workers; Mask enforcement for all customers at all stores; Paid Sick Leave for all Front Line Workers sick or exposed; Hazard pay immediately reinstated for all Front Line Workers; and a Freeze of all stock buybacks by companies until the pandemic is under control.
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