A leading retail union calls for a nationwide mask mandate in stores to protect staff, and says the CDC's new mask guidelines don't go far enough

·2 min read
Grocery store worker, low-wage
"A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus,' UFCW said. LM Otero/AP Photo
  • A leading retail union in the US is calling for masks to be mandatory again as COVID-19 cases soar.

  • The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers.

  • New CDC recommendations for masks in high-risk areas don't go far enough, the UFCW said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The CDC changed its guidance around wearing masks on Tuesday, recommending that everyone wears masks indoors - whether they have been vaccinated or not - in areas of the country where COVID-19 cases are soaring.

But one of the US' leading retail unions says the new guidelines don't do enough to protect store workers, and say masks should be mandatory again.

"A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus and every retail CEO in the country must recognize that now is the time for all of us to mask up so we can keep our economy open and communities safe," UFCW international president Marc Perrone said in a statement shared with Insider.

Insider asked leading retailers in the US including Costco, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Home Depot whether they were updating their mask policies, but did not immediately hear back.

The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers in the US. It said that 878 of its members had died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Mandatory masks would help prevent workers from playing "vaccination police," enforcing different rules in different states, he said.

"Urgent action is needed from states and retailers to strengthen COVID safety enforcement so the burden doesn't fall on the shoulders or essential workers already stretched thin," he said.

While some workers are happy to be rid of masks, others fear that fewer masked customers puts them at greater risk of infection.

In May, a Starbucks worker told Insider's Mary Meisenzahl that she was considering leaving her job after the CDC announced that mask mandates would be lifted.

If you have a story to share please contact this reporter at mhanbury@businessinsider.com or via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4716 using a non-work phone.

Read the original article on Business Insider