Workers in the meatpacking industries have been on the front lines during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of those workers are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. UFCW President Marc Perrone says COVID-19 is still going strong and hitting their union members, as well as non-union workers, very hard.
“Contrary to some of what employers and even some of our government leaders want us to believe, COVID-19 is still very real, and what we’re seeing is overall increases in cases again. The last time we did this call, we mentioned how some union and non-union employers had done away with hazard pay, or you could call it hero’s pay, in some cases. Companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger, even though we’re over 100 days into this pandemic, the fact is, COVID-19 and the crisis it’s created hasn’t passed.”
Perrone talks about the impact of COVID-19 on the workers in his union.
“Based on the information that we have, over 196 of our members in food retail, including meatpacking and food processing and healthcare, have died. A total of 238 of our members across all the industries that we represent have died. Over 29,000 of our members in food retail, healthcare, meatpacking, and food processing, have been impacted or exposed to COVID-19. Over the last month, over 2,300 of our members have been impacted or exposed.”
He talks about initiatives the union will be pursuing to get their workers paid and protected while they are on the front line of COVID-19.
“First of all, we’re going to be calling for every retail food operation, meatpacking, and healthcare, non-union and union essential worker to immediately, as a minimum, to be paid 15 dollars an hour. And we also want the reinstatement of all hazard pay, or hero pay, in all states where cases are rising, and to directly connect hazard pay to those number of cases. Secondly, we’re going to be calling for every state and county government to mandate the wearing of masks in public places, to compel employers and companies to enforce the use of masks.”