Grocery store workers union blasts governor’s new vaccination schedule

Gov. Kate Brown listens to an update from the state Employment Department during a revenue briefing on Monday, April 20. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon’s grocery store workers now have their place in line for the Covid vaccination. But a union representing these workers still isn’t happy. 

Gov. Kate Brown announced on Friday that workers employed in public-facing jobs, including grocery store workers would be eligible for the Covid vaccine on May 1. 

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 — which represents 28,000 workers in  Oregon and southwest Washington, 2,000 of whom are in Marion and Polk counties —  responded with a sharply worded statement criticizing the governor’s decision. 

The union repeated its criticism of the governor for not following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended vaccination schedule, which called for offering the inoculation earlier to grocery store workers along with corrections officers, teachers and others. The union said that Brown’s 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.”

So far, the governor’s vaccination schedule has targeted older Oregonians, educators, health care workers and others. UFCW President Dan Clay called on Brown said grocery store workers were at great risk of contracting the virus and for Brown to revise the schedule. 

“Kate Brown’s decision to ignore the CDC is a travesty that has placed all Oregonians at a greater risk of COVID infection,” said Clay.  “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.” 

-Jake Thomas