UFCW Local 555 Statement on Vaccine Prioritization

February 26, 2021


UFCW Local 555 Statement on Vaccine Prioritization

This morning, Governor Kate Brown announced that Oregon’s COVID vaccine prioritization schedule would abandon both the science-informed recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control as well as the tens of thousands of front-line workers who were counting on these protective measures.

Tigard, Oregon – Last December, the CDC recommended the grocery workers, transit workers, and other public-facing employees should be prioritized for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine directly after healthcare workers and long-term care residents. The CDC recommendations were developed by a broad panel of experts, based on evaluating: 1) the effect on public health and preservation of life, 2) maintaining basic necessary services, and 3) ensuring that already-marginalized communities didn’t get left behind.

In Oregon, one of the first COVID-related deaths of 2020 was a grocery worker, and the Oregon Health Authority has since tallied hundreds of infections and outbreaks centered around the grocery industry.

The CDC prioritized grocery workers after determining that since “their work-related duties must be performed on-site and involve being in close proximity (<6 feet) to the public,” they were especially at risk of being infected as well as unknowingly infecting others.

This morning’s announcement from Governor Brown once again abandoned these workers to the back of the line. Dan Clay, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, which represents tens of thousands of grocery workers in Oregon, said of the announcement:

Kate Brown’s decision to ignore the CDC is a travesty that has placed all Oregonians at a greater risk of COVID infection. Today’s decision is the culmination of bad decisions made by the Governor of Oregon, who seems to be actively working against the CDC recommendations. Putting politics over science is and will continue to be a deadly choice for Oregonians.”

We strongly urge the Governor to immediately revisit this decision that treats essential workers like they are disposable, and move these workers to the front of the line to avoid further spread of the virus.

About Local 555: United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 represents over 28,000 workers in Oregon and Southwestern Washington. Our membership is comprised of workers in retail, manufacturing, health care and many other industries. We are a diverse group of workers that have grown into being the largest private sector labor union in Oregon. Local 555 has a rich history dating back to 1936. Our local is chartered by the UFCW International Union, joining us with over 1.3 million workers across the United States and the World.

1 https://www.oregon.gov/oha/erd/pages/covid-19-news.aspx
2 Dooling K, Marin M, Wallace M, et al. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Updated Interim Recommendation for Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, December 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;69:1657-1660. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm695152e2