UFCW Urges Gov. Lamont to Provide Child Care to Grocery Workers

On Friday, UFCW Local 371 President Tom Wilkinson sent a letter to Gov. Ned Lamont urging the administration to issue guidance on how grocery store and other essential workers can access state funded childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wilkinson also urges Gov. Lamont to designate grocery store, pharmacy, and food processing workers as first responders to ensure that the workers who are keeping America fed during this crisis have the support they need.

See below for the letter from UFCW Local 371 to Gov. Lamont.

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April 3, 2020

Dear Governor Lamont:

On behalf of the 8000 members of UFCW Local 371 in CT, I urge you to issue immediate guidance on how grocery store, pharmacy, food production, food processing, food distribution and other essential workers can access state funded childcare during the coronavirus pandemic.

Congress passed a $2 trillion economic rescue plan that will offer assistance to tens of millions of households affected by the coronavirus. One of the stimulus package components is $3.5 billion to be distributed through the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, a federal assistance fund distributed to states to provide for childcare for low-income families. The stimulus bill lifts the income requirements to ensure that the CCDBG program covers people deemed essential to ongoing state operations during this crisis. Childcare is a necessity for many families, but especially for front-line workers who cannot help with this public health crisis without it.

On March 28, the President issued updated Coronavirus Guidance for America. The guidance identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, including “food and agriculture.” The guidance is intended to help state and local officials ensure continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.

Workers up and down the food chain have been required to work in order to ensure our homes have adequate food, supplies, and prescription drugs during this crisis. We need these workers to keep working now to ensure our food supply. Like health care workers, grocery store, pharmacy and food processing workers are essential workers on the front lines of this battle. They deserve not only our gratitude, but support so that they can continue to do their jobs.

Cities and states across the country are beginning to heed the needs of their food worker first responders. Minnesota and Vermont have classified grocery clerks as emergency personnel, meaning that they qualify for childcare while schools are closed.

Our childcare system has suffered from decades of underinvestment and the amount allotted in the stimulus package is still far short of what providers, workers, and families need, but it is a start. We urge you to designate grocery store, pharmacy, and food processing workers as first responders to ensure that the workers who are keeping America fed during this crisis have the support they need.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Wilkinson
International Vice President
President, UFCW 371