The Stand

One union’s alarming COVID-19 death toll

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United Food & Commercial Workers loses 238 frontline workers in 100 days

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 30, 2020) — The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced last week that over the last 100 days, 238 UFCW members have died from COVID-19 and nearly 29,000 workers have been infected or exposed to this killer virus. The alarming numbers were part of a national news conference highlighting the impact and growing danger of COVID-19 on our nation’s frontline workers.

“With our country now 100 days into the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s frontline workers still face many of the same dangers they faced on day one,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “In grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and healthcare facilities, our country’s frontline workers are still getting sick and dying. 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.”

The UFCW report, based on internal estimates from UFCW local unions across the country, found:

In grocery stores across the country, there have been at least 82 worker deaths and 11,507 workers infected or exposed. April experienced the highest single-month total for grocery worker deaths with 46 supermarket employees killed by COVID-19. May saw the grocery industry’s biggest overall spike in COVID-19 cases with 5,901 new grocery workers infected or exposed.

At meatpacking plants nationwide, there have been at least 65 worker deaths and 14,214 workers infected or exposed. April saw the biggest spike in new COVID-19 meatpacking cases with 8,632 workers infected or exposed. May was the deadliest for the industry with 38 worker deaths last month alone.

In food processing facilities, there have been at least 28 worker deaths and 3,474 workers infected or exposed. April was the deadliest month for the industry with 19 food processing worker deaths, and was also the month with the biggest spike in cases with 2,107 workers infected or exposed.

Healthcare facilities have been the frontlines from the beginning. UFCW represents more than 60,000 healthcare workers across the country and has confirmed there have been at least 21 worker deaths with 11,478 workers infected or exposed. April was the deadliest month with 13 worker deaths and May saw the biggest spike in new cases with 8,554 workers infected or exposed.

“American workers simply cannot survive with the current patchwork of safety measures taken by only a fraction of companies and states with millions still unprotected and vulnerable,” Perrone said. “We need real enforcement of the highest 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.”

Perrone announced three new UFCW initiatives in response to the growing increase of COVID-19 cases in states across the country. The initiatives to address the impact on frontline workers include (1) Reinstating hazard pay and establishing a $15 per hour wage for all frontline workers, (2) Establishing a public mask mandate in all 50 states, and (3) Creating a new national public registry to track COVID-19 infections in frontline workers which would require companies with more than 1,000 employees to submit monthly reports on their worker deaths, infections, and exposure.

The 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. Learn more at UFCW.org.

Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=89450

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