The UFCW recently applauded the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to prioritize essential workers for COVID-19 vaccine access in the next round of distribution. The UFCW said the CDC move is a critical first step, but made clear that governors in all 50 states must expedite vaccine distribution and guarantee access for essential workers. On the NBC TODAY Show, UFCW International President Marc Perrone highlighted the dangers frontline workers continue to face during this pandemic. 

The UFCW recently announced that among our union’s members across the country, there have already been at least 363 frontline worker COVID-19 deaths and over 63,000 frontline workers infected or exposed to the virus. Specifically, there have been 116 grocery worker COVID-19 deaths and 20,750 grocery workers have been infected or exposed to the virus. In the meatpacking industry, there have been 130 COVID-19 deaths and 20,600 meatpacking workers have been infected or exposed to the virus.

“The CDC move to prioritize essential workers for the COVID vaccine is a critical first step, but governors in all 50 states must act to expedite distribution and guarantee free access to the vaccine for these 30 million American workers on the frontlines,” Perrone said in a statement. “America’s essential workers are bravely putting themselves in harm’s way in grocery stores and meatpacking plants to feed our families. Many of these workers are serving our communities without hazard pay after company cuts, despite the growing health risks from recent spikes in COVID-19 cases. With new COVID-19 outbreaks in grocery stores and other frontline businesses, hundreds of these essential workers have already died and thousands more are infected daily as they help to keep our food supply secure.”

“As the largest union for America’s essential workers in food and retail, the UFCW is calling on CEOs in these industries to immediately work with governors to guarantee access to the vaccine for their frontline employees,” Perrone added. “These businesses must also provide a paid holiday to all of their employees who receive the vaccine. With the economic crisis hurting so many families, no worker should have to choose between a paycheck and getting the vaccine that will protect their health.”

You can view the NBC TODAY show interview here.