On Dec. 1, the UFCW called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prioritize essential workers in grocery, meatpacking, and food processing for early COVID-19 vaccine access. Ahead of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting on vaccine distribution, the UFCW urged the CDC to recognize the extraordinary service of these essential workers, who are overwhelmingly from communities of color and still on the frontlines of the pandemic as COVID-19 cases skyrocket across the country.
New numbers show that among our members, there have been at least 350 frontline worker deaths and at least 48,000 frontline workers infected or exposed to the virus. In grocery stores, there have already been at least 109 grocery worker deaths, including over 17,400 grocery workers infected or exposed. In meatpacking plants, there have already been at least 128 meatpacking worker deaths and over 19,800 meatpacking workers infected or exposed.
“America’s grocery, meatpacking, and food processing workers have been on the frontlines of this deadly pandemic since day one, putting themselves in harm’s way to feed our families during this crisis,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement. “As COVID-19 cases skyrocket, hundreds of these essential workers have already died and thousands more are infected daily as they serve our country by keeping our food supply secure.”
“As the largest union for America’s essential workers in grocery, meatpacking, and food processing, the UFCW is calling on the CDC to prioritize these brave men and women for early access to the COVID-19 vaccine immediately after health care workers,” Perrone added. “Protecting our country’s food workers is essential to keeping our communities safe and stopping future outbreaks in these high-exposure workplaces. CDC Director Redfield must recognize the vital role these essential workers serve by ensuring that they are among the first to receive access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”