A major grocery and meatpacking union demands mask requirements

A major union representing thousands of workers in supermarkets, meat packing plants, and nursing homes said officials and government companies should require masks in public places to control the spread of the coronavirus as Texas, Florida, and other states spread. become the new critical points.

Marc Perrone, president of the International Union of Commercial and Food Workers of the United States, said that the pandemic is not over, and that there are no risks to workers’ health either. In fact, he said, in many states, your chances of getting sick are increasing along with cases of coronavirus.

“Contrary to what employers, and I think even some of our government leaders, want us to believe, Covid-19 is still very real,” he said in a call to reporters.

This week, the United States set a record for the number of new coronavirus cases in a single day, with 45,557 diagnoses reported Wednesday, according to an NBC News count.

Throughout the pandemic, the union has lobbied employers to expand workers’ access to evidence and protective equipment, saying that without them the public is also at risk. It has also urged it to pay risks for its members and for essential workers at non-union companies like Walmart and Amazon.

Kroger, Walmart, Amazon and others have temporarily raised wages and offered bonuses during the pandemic, but that additional payment has either ended or is shrinking. Kroger completed his $ 2 hourly temporary pay increase in mid-May, and in the face of a backlash, paid a $ 400 bonus to full-time employees and $ 200 to part-time employees. Walmart will finalize its $ 2 hourly wage increase for e-commerce distribution centers on July 3. Amazon’s $ 2 per hour increase ended on May 31.

On Thursday, the union asked employers to pay essential workers at least $ 15 an hour and reinstate “risk pay” in all states where cases are increasing.

Target announced last week that it will increase its hourly minimum wage from $ 13 to $ 15, effective July 5. He had planned to raise his wages to $ 15 by the end of this year, but hastened his schedule due to the pandemic. A temporary increase of $ 2 per hour established during the outbreak expired on July 4.

The union also called for the creation of a national public registry where employers with more than 1,000 workers must disclose the number of people who became ill or died from Covid-19 each month.

“The human cost of this terrible pandemic cannot be ignored, nor should it be hidden,” said Perrone.

The union said 238 of its members died from Covid-19, including more than 196 of its members in food retail, meat packaging and medical care. More than 29,000 members in those sectors have been impacted or exposed to the coronavirus.

However, he said the total does not include people from non-union employers, including Walmart and Amazon.

Perrone said government officials should require companies to impose the use of masks in public places.

“If our national airlines can do this, there is no excuse why retailers like Kroger and Walmart cannot do the same,” Perrone said, adding that supermarket workers are exposed to more people than airline employees.

On the call, a nursing home worker, a grocery store employee, and a meatpacking plant worker discussed their concerns as they go to work each day, begging Americans to wear a mask. .

Linda Robinson, a nursing assistant at the Brandywyne Health Care Center in Winter Haven, Florida, said 13 of the nursing home staff members became ill. She and her coworkers wear masks, masks, gloves, and gowns every day to protect the vulnerable population of the nursing home. She said they provide emotional support to residents who are afraid and cannot see their families.

He asked people to think of their own grandparents and their children.

“If wearing a mask can save a life, why shouldn’t one do it?” she said. “Think of the elderly Americans who sacrificed so much for us. Is it really so much to ask that we wear a mask to protect the older generation that gave us so much?”