Last week, the UFCW raised concerns about the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors, and called on the CDC to address COVID-19 safety enforcement for unvaccinated people. As the nation’s leading voice for retail and grocery worker safety, the UFCW was one of the first to call for mask mandates to combat COVID-19 and our union has continued to highlight the ongoing health threat faced by many essential workers still on the front lines.
According to new UFCW estimates, among our union’s members nationwide, there have already been at least 462 frontline worker COVID-19 deaths and at least 93,300 frontline workers have been infected or exposed to the virus. In the grocery industry, 184 of our members have died due to COVID-19 and at least 41,700 of our members have been infected or exposed. In the meatpacking industry, 132 of our members have died due to COVID-19 and 22,290 of our members have been infected or exposed.
The UFCW’s response to the CDC mask guidance was covered by Good Morning America, CNN, and NPR, as well as the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today. UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on the CDC to clarify its position on COVID-19 safety enforcement for unvaccinated people.
“While we all share the desire to return to a mask-free normal, today’s CDC guidance is confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks,” Perrone said in a statement. “Millions of Americans are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated, but essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local COVID safety measures. Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”
“With so many states already ending their mask mandates, this new CDC guidance must do more to acknowledge the real and daily challenge these workers and the American people still face,” Perrone added. “Vaccinations are helping us take control of this pandemic, but we must not let our guard down. As one of America’s largest unions for essential workers, the UFCW is calling on the CDC and our nation’s leaders to clarify how this new policy will be implemented, how essential workers will be protected, and how these workers will protect the communities they serve.”