PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) -- As more Oregonians become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, some essential workers feel left behind.
Grocery store workers say they’re upset they don’t become eligible until May 1.
“They were livid. They’re livid,” Melody said of her coworkers. She’s a grocery store worker and a vice president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555, which represents 25,000 workers in Oregon. For job protection, FOX 12 is not naming where Melody works.
Melody told FOX 12 it’s vital she and her frontline colleagues become eligible sooner than the two months they have to wait under Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s newly released COVID-19 vaccine prioritization timeline.
“Without us, people would not be able to have food on their table and the essentials that they need in order to run a home,” she said.
Grocery store workers encounter hundreds of people each day. They can’t stay home or shelter in place. No matter how you live your life, your bubble likely includes a grocery store employee.
“I see on a daily basis that people don’t care and…I hear people saying, 'It’s not my responsibility to make sure others are safe. It’s not my responsibility to make sure that they are doing what has been asked of us from CDC,'” she said.
Melody has a grandson with health risks. The sooner she can get a vaccine, the sooner she can spend time with family and feel safer at work.
“We are all responsible for each other and it’s going to take all of us to get through this together,” said Melody. “It doesn’t mean that you have the right to be selfish and it doesn’t mean you have the right to put essential workers on the bottom of a list, so that they can continue to put their lives in danger while others disregard the mandates that have been put in place.”
Melody and Dan Clay, the president of UFCW Local 555, took their concerns to Oregon lawmakers Monday, pleading to be moved up on the eligibility timeline.
Clay said if you are called essential and asked to take on the risk of being a grocery store worker, you should have support from the community that’s asked you to do that.