Nearly 29K essential workers exposed to COVID-19
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union calls on Northam to protect workers
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) said Friday that, among its 1.3 million members, 238 front-line workers have died from COVID-19 and nearly 29,000 workers have been infected or exposed to the virus. UFCW represents more than 10,100 workers in Virginia’s grocery stores, meatpacking plants and other essential businesses.
“With our country now 100 days into the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s front-line workers in Virginia and across the country still face many of the same dangers they faced on Day One,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “It’s high time for America’s CEOs and elected leaders to pull their heads out of the sand and take the strong action needed to protect these brave workers and the communities they serve.”
As a result, UFCW has called on Gov. Ralph Northam for action to protect workers workers and consumers.
UFCW calls for the following actions to be taken:
- Reinstate hazard pay and establish a $15 per hour wage for all front-line workers
- Establish a mask mandate for all businesses and public gatherings
- Create a new public registry to track COVID-19 infections in front-line workers, and require companies with more than 1,000 employees to submit monthly reports on their worker deaths, infections, and exposure.
Grocery stores have seen at least 82 deaths and 11,507 workers infected or exposed; meatpacking plants have seen at least 65 deaths and 14,214 infected or exposed; food processing facilities have seen at least 28 deaths and 3,474 workers infected or exposed; and health care facilities have seen at least 21 deaths and 11,478 cases or exposures, according to UFCW. The organization represents more than 60,000 health care workers.
“Front-line workers simply cannot survive with the current patchwork of safety measures that still leave so many unprotected and vulnerable,” Perrone said in a statement. “We need real enforcement of strong safety standards. Even worse, some of our nation’s biggest companies like Amazon, Walmart and Kroger are still keeping us in the dark and refusing to tell the American people how many of their workers have died or been exposed to COVID-19.
“Simply put, it is impossible to hold the government or corporate America accountable when they hide the true impact of this outbreak.”