In 2021, the UFCW continued to advance workplace health and safety protections and support legislation aimed at protecting and improving the lives of our members.
Earlier this year, the UFCW hosted a virtual town hall meeting on COVID-19 safety measures and vaccine access for essential workers with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. During the event, Dr. Fauci addressed questions from UFCW members while providing the latest updates about the vaccine and why we need to keep taking the necessary precautions to slow the spread of the virus.
Our union partnered with state leaders and industry employers to expand COVID-19 vaccine access to thousands of essential meatpacking workers. We also opened up our union halls as vaccination sites.
We partnered with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and FORWARD, the national databank for rheumatic diseases, to launch a long-term, national Essential Worker Study to help our union understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our members. The new study is focusing on rates of infection, which types of workplaces have had the most infections, and vaccination rates. To date, over 15,000 members have signed up for the study. Our union also launched a series of COVID-19 educational Q&A events to provide our members with an opportunity to have their questions about the COVID-19 disease and life-saving vaccines addressed by top doctors and public health specialists.
And this holiday season, our union launched a new holiday shopping #ThankAWorker campaign with health and safety shopping tips to show support for the men and women keeping stores open and our economy strong as the pandemic continues.
On the political front, the UFCW supported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask policy recommending that vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans resume wearing masks indoors and our union also called for a national mask mandate. Our union also supported the Biden Administration’s guidance for essential worker COVID-19 hazard pay to be prioritized as governors and mayors distribute the $350 billion in state and local COVID relief aid from the American Rescue Plan.
The UFCW testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis about COVID-19 safety risks meatpacking workers have faced as frontline workers. Our union highlighted findings from a new report from Rep. James Clyburn, who serves as chairman of the subcommittee, which showed that meatpacking COVID-19 cases were significantly underestimated and non-union plants had some of the biggest safety failures. Our union also called on Congress and the USDA for immediate action to strengthen protections for meatpacking workers to keep them safe on the job and ensure this never happens again.
Our union supported the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that supports good-paying union jobs, and urged Congress to invest in working families by passing the Build Back Better Act. The UFCW also announced support for the Protecting America’s Meatpacking Workers Act, new legislation from U.S. Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey) and U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (California) that will strengthen worker safety, help increase transparency, and support American jobs. Our union also called the Biden Administration vaccine mandate and Emergency Temporary Standard on workplace safety from OSHA an important first step to keeping frontline workers safe and emphasized the need for workers to have a voice in how these policies are implemented.
Here are the articles about the UFCW’s effort to protect our members that appeared in OnPoint this year:
Here are the articles about our union’s effort to protect our members through stronger legislation and oversight from government agencies: