Brandworkers Statement on Coronavirus

Local food manufacturing workers are sustaining us through this crisis and they deserve support more than ever before. As people across New York City stock up on the food they’ll need to sustain their families through this crisis, food workers across the city—primarily immigrant workers of color—are at heightened risk. To provide the food we all need, food workers risk their health to get to work, operate in close confines with their coworkers for long hours, and are unable to stay home with children now out of school. 

Employers have failed to adequately address the crisis. This callous disregard for workers must end now. Workers report near total lack of preparation by factory owners and a complete failure to provide adequate training or equipment to work safely. Additional sick days have not been provided, even as workers take great risks to work. As the crisis churns on, the long term economic fallout threatens mass layoffs when workers most need to recover.

Food manufacturing employers must stop endangering lives now. Brandworkers is demanding that companies:

  • Extend at least four weeks of paid sick leave for workers who get sick, paid family leave for those who must care for ill family members, or who can not access care for their children.
  • Ensure income continuity for workers who are laid off or whose hours are reduced due to cancelled orders or a temporary reduction in demand.
  • Protect workers and the consumers they serve by providing high quality coronavirus related safety training, equipment, infrastructure, and processes.
  • Institute a hazard premium to workers’ hourly pay to compensate for the significant risk of foregoing physical distancing.
  • Refrain from any retaliation against workers who raise safety concerns or file legal complaints.
  • Respect workers’ right to organize labor unions. Immediately end ongoing anti-union campaigns in favor of negotiated safety solutions.
  • Immediately provide appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent spread of the virus amongst coworkers.  
  • Adopt immigrant worker protection policies to ensure that the crisis is not exacerbated by unjust ICE enforcement actions.

Workers Know What They Need. Food factory workers know what they need now and, with the support of the communities they feed, they can achieve meaningful solutions by expressing their collective power directly, and without delay. Immigrant workers in particular, have been organizing in the face of crisis for years, and have the skills and the resiliency to lead in times like this.