December 9, 2020


Not all US states consider meatpacking workers essential for COVID-19 vaccine


Mark Lauritsen, United States-based United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) vice president and head of the food processing and meatpacking division, said some states have moved away from putting meat and food processing industry workers in line for COVID-19 vaccination, Reuters reported.


Lauritsen cited Colorado as an example of a state that has not put meatpacking and meat processing workers as a high priority compared to other states, adding that the union will be focusing their efforts in states like Colorado to boost meatpacking workers up the chain.


He said the union will be talking to every state to justify meatpacking and meat processing workers' priority in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.


Lauritsen's statement comes as US firms and industry groups lobby to get their workers priority for COVID-19 vaccination, as US states differ as which group should be first in line to the vaccine.


Reuters reviewed state vaccine distribution plans and found discrepancies over who are considered essential. Some state plans show distinctively which worker groups are in line for a vaccine, while other plans show no clarity.


North Carolina's plan, a state with a detailed vaccine distribution plan at 150 pages long, said early phase COVID-19 vaccinations will cover meatpacking, seafood, poultry and food processing, transportation, and retail workers. However, these workers must be affected by a minimum of two chronic conditions that could place them at high risk to the disease.


Georgia state's plan aims to work with various industries such as poultry plants, manufacturers and warehouse distributors. Pennsylvania's distribution plan is only three pages long, prioritising workers "contributing to the maintenance of core societal functions".


- Reuters