Biden Backs Mask Mandates

Bridget Goldschmidt
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Biden Backs Mask Mandates
The UFCW agrees with Joe Biden's call for mask mandates by governors, a move that the union believes will help protect front-line supermarket workers.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has called for nationwide mask mandates for at least the next three months to stem the spread of the coronavirus, a move applauded by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which has been pushing for such measures. The mandates would be issued by state governors. 

“It’s not about your rights,” Biden said during an appearance in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, as reported by The New York Times, in explanation of his position. “It’s about your responsibilities as an American.” The publication added that according to polls, most Americans support such mandates. 

Biden spoke to the press after he and his vice presidential pick, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, met with public-health officials.

“Vice President Biden’s call for a national mask mandate underscores the need for immediate action to protect millions of America’s front-line workers,” noted Marc Perrone, president of Washington, D.C.-based UFCW International. “As COVID-19 spikes across the country continue to put our communities at risk, it is time for governors to step up and make a public mask mandate the law in all 50 states.”

Added Perrone: “In every grocery store in America, front-line workers are continuing to put themselves in harm’s way to make sure our families have the food we need. Every day that governors hesitate to enact mask mandates that are fully enforced, millions of American workers and shoppers will continue to be needlessly put in danger of being infected by COVID-19.”

While many retailers have implemented mandatory mask policies in their stores, most notably Walmart, the world’s largest retailer; top grocer Kroger; and Southeastern Grocers, which reversed its stance on the matter after first saying it wouldn’t compel shoppers to wear face coverings in its stores, most governors have yet to issue such mandates, which would give the requirement to wear a mask in public the force of law.

As videos of “mask rage” in stores go viral – representing a direct threat to workers trying to uphold their companies’ policies – there has also been concern about customers who resist wearing masks bringing lawsuits against retailers requiring them to cover their faces in stores, with Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle already facing multiple legal challenges to its “no-exceptions” mask policy.

The UFCW isn’t the only organization to back a nationwide response regarding masks. Last month, the National Retail Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and other industry groups sent a letter to President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and governors across the country, calling on them to implement a national mask standard. Also last month, in a piece published on CNN Business, 21 retail CEOs urged U.S. governors “to prioritize the health and safety of our workers and the communities we serve by requiring patrons to wear a mask when visiting our stores.”

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