New York, NY – With deaths and sickness continuing across the industry, food supply chain workers call for safety measures to address Covid-19.
On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, Teamster food supply chain workers held protests in cities across the country to demand state governments and employers work together with unions to implement protections for food workers and the US food supply chain amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers are calling on their employers and elected officials to keep them and the food supply chain safe. Enforceable safety standards are needed as well as government funding for paid sick and family leave, hazard pay, access to PPE, and testing capacity. Teamsters represent nearly 500,000 workers at every level of the supply chain, including those in food processing and distribution, production, consumption and disposal.
Protests by Teamsters have been taking place outside of some of the biggest food and beverage employers in the country, including the Tyson processing plant in Amarillo, TX, and the Kroger warehouse in Memphis, TN.
COVID-19 cases have already been reported at 115 meat and poultry processing facilities across 19 states, with more than 5,000 food supply chain workers testing positive and more than 20 killed from the virus. At least a dozen facilities have shut down in response to the outbreak. The food supply chain, which accounts for more than 20 million jobs or 11% of total U.S. employment, and over 5% of the U.S. GDP, is experiencing major shortages and is at risk of further disruptions as the pandemic continues.
Teamsters at every level of the food chain — from meat and dairy processing, packing, transportation and delivery, to the country’s largest breweries, bakeries, soft drink companies and grocery chains — fear that a resurgence of COVID-19 or second wave could put the food supply at the brink of collapse.
In order to protect food workers and the country’s food supply chain, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are calling for enhanced safety measures at all food facilities. These include a shield, test, trace, and treat approach: providing PPE for all workers; adjusting work practices for social distancing; prioritizing regular COVID-19 testing and tracing for food supply chain workers, and free healthcare and quarantine pay to prevent outbreaks for all workers impacted by COVID-19.