A large union representing thousands of workers in grocery stores, meat processing plants, and nursing homes said government officials and companies should require masks in public places to control the spread of coronavirus, as Texas, Florida, and other states are becoming new hot spots.
Mark Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said the pandemic is not over yet, as are the risks to worker health. In fact, he said, in many states, their chances of getting sick increase with cases of coronavirus.
“Contrary to the fact that employers – and I think even some of our government leaders – want us to believe, Covid-19 is still very real,” he said by telephone with reporters.
This week, the United States set a record for the number of new cases of coronavirus in one day, with 45,557 diagnoses reported on Wednesday, according to NBC News.
Throughout the pandemic, the union has pushed employers to expand workers’ access to testing and protective equipment, saying that without them, the public is also at risk. He also called for hazardous pay for members and key employees in non-union companies such as Walmart and Amazon.
Kroger, Walmart, Amazon, and others temporarily increased wages and offered bonuses during the pandemic, but this extra payment has ended or is being reduced. In mid-May, Kroger stopped his temporary wage increase of $ 2 and, faced with a negative reaction, paid a bonus of $ 400 to full-time workers and $ 200 to part-time workers. Walmart will end its wage increase of $ 2 per hour for e-commerce service centers on July 3. Amazon’s $ 2 per hour increase ended May 31.
On Thursday, the union called on employers to pay at least $ 15 an hour to key employees and restore “pay for work in dangerous conditions” in all states where the number of such cases is growing.
Target announced last week that it will increase its minimum hourly wage from $ 13 to $ 15 from July 5. By the end of this year, she planned to raise her salary to $ 15, but she accelerated the schedule because of the pandemic. The temporary increase of $ 2 per hour set during the outbreak was due to expire on July 4.
The union also called for the creation of a national public registry in which employers with more than 1,000 employees should disclose the number of people who get sick or die from Covid-19 each month.
“You cannot ignore the human costs of this terrible pandemic and not hide it,” Perrone said.
The union said 238 of its members died from Covid-19, including more than 196 of its members in food retail, meat packaging, and healthcare. More than 29,000 members in these sectors have been exposed or exposed to coronavirus.
However, he said that the total does not include non-union people, 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 that retailers such as Kroger and Walmart cannot do the same,” Perrone said, adding that food workers face more people than airline employees .
During the conversation, a nursing home worker, a grocer and a meat worker told about their concerns when they go to work every day and asked the Americans to wear a mask.
Linda Robinson, a nurse assistant at the Brandywyne Health Center in Winter Haven, Florida, said 13 of the nursing home staff were sick. She and her colleagues wear masks, face masks, gloves and bathrobes every day to protect the vulnerable population of the nursing home. She said that they provide emotional support to residents who are afraid and do not see their families.
She asked people to think about their grandparents and their children.
“If wearing a mask can save one life, why not do it?” she said. “Think of the older Americans who sacrificed so much for us. Is there really so much to ask that we put on a mask to protect the greatest generation that has given us so much? ”