Food and Retail Union Calls for Action as Arizona COVID-19 Deaths Increase for Frontline Workers

In First 100 Days of COVID-19 – 238 Frontline Worker Deaths, Nearly 29,000 Workers Infected or Exposed in Food and Healthcare Sectors

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers – including more than 22,100 Arizona workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants and other essential businesses across the state, called on Governor Doug Ducey for action to protect workers and consumers.

UFCW announced that among its members, 238 frontline workers have died and nearly 29,000 workers have been infected or exposed in the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Arizona COVID-19 cases continue to increase, UFCW is calling on Governor Doug Ducey to work with business leaders to enact three policies essential to supporting and protecting millions of frontline workers across Arizona:

  1. Reinstate hazard pay and establish a $15 per hour wage for all frontline workers
  2. Establish a mask mandate for all businesses and public gatherings
  3. Create a new 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.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“With our country now 100 days into the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s frontline workers in Arizona and across the country still face many of the same dangers they faced on day one. 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.

“Frontline workers simply cannot survive with the current patchwork of safety measures that still leave so many unprotected and vulnerable. We need real enforcement of strong 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.”

Background

UFCW represents 1.3 million workers, including more than 22,100 Arizona workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants and other essential businesses across the state. Among the union’s members, 238 workers have died and nearly 29,000 workers have been infected or exposed to COVID-19.

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 spike overall 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 as 2,107 workers infected or exposed.

Healthcare facilities have been the frontlines from the beginning. UFCW represents over 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.

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