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Grocery workers' union accuses Gov. Brown of 'cutting in line' for vaccine

UFCW 555 criticized Governor Kate Brown over the weekend for receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while food workers continue to wait under Oregon's plan.

Posted: Mar 8, 2021 10:39 AM
Updated: Mar 8, 2021 10:48 AM

TIGARD, Ore. — A union representing food and commercial workers in Oregon and southwestern Washington criticized Governor Kate Brown over the weekend after she received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 released a statement on Sunday, accusing Brown of cutting in line under the vaccine schedule that she helped to develop and implement.

Governor Brown received the vaccine on Saturday in an effort to prove that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine was "safe and effective."

“Every week my office hears the question: If these vaccines are so safe, then why hasn’t Kate Brown gotten one? I want to reassure Oregonians that they should feel confident taking any of the three vaccines available to protect themselves and their loved ones," Brown said in a statement.

On February 26, Brown and state officials outlined the state's vaccine eligibility schedule for the coming months. Under that plan, adults 45 and older with underlying health conditions, seasonal farm and food processing workers, and several other groups become eligible March 29. Most frontline workers — including the bulk of retail and grocery workers — become eligible by May 1. The plan opens up eligibility to all adults 45 and older by June 1.

"Kate Brown said she does not qualify for the vaccine under her own plan," UFCW 555 said. "The Governor gets to choose how much interaction she has with the public. Our members and other retail workers do not. They cannot work remotely. They see hundreds of customers a day."

The union has been pushing for essential workers to be moved up on Oregon's timeline since the schedule was expanded at the end of February, saying that many workers are "livid" at being left out. 

"Last week, Governor Brown 'thanked' grocery workers for showing up to work through this pandemic. She also thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to move these workers to the back of the line for vaccines, while she cuts ahead," UFCW 555 continued.

In the neighboring states of Washington and California, grocery workers have been placed higher on the priority list. California's Phase 1b — already eligible to receive the vaccine — includes "workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other retail that seels food or beverage products," along with restaurant workers. Washington's plan opens up eligibility to grocery store workers on March 22.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 353368

Reported Deaths: 4226
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55417699
Washington38425317
Marion36469448
Clackamas29440306
Lane27431300
Jackson22837305
Deschutes19958125
Umatilla14358145
Linn12672126
Douglas11962243
Josephine9307195
Yamhill8621111
Klamath7846116
Polk724881
Malheur555376
Benton541931
Coos495494
Columbia377043
Jefferson367752
Union316548
Lincoln315438
Wasco284840
Crook281846
Clatsop242029
Baker199928
Tillamook195529
Hood River190537
Morrow183423
Curry179425
Harney111926
Grant99512
Lake91012
Wallowa67612
Gilliam1524
Sherman1483
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4830872

Reported Deaths: 70874
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147942126446
Riverside3706085008
San Diego3652534170
San Bernardino3576395606
Orange3235695531
Sacramento1587852294
Fresno1453782063
Kern1452271616
Santa Clara1451271895
Alameda1203661384
San Joaquin1023411721
Ventura1008491165
Contra Costa99712995
Stanislaus857501325
Tulare79627958
San Francisco54266644
San Mateo54023622
Monterey50792583
Solano45934339
Santa Barbara45047522
Merced42089579
Sonoma40865402
Placer39157420
Imperial35832764
Kings32649320
San Luis Obispo29837331
Madera23720285
Butte23673265
Shasta23574349
Santa Cruz20943218
Yolo20266248
Marin17665244
El Dorado17097149
Sutter13861172
Napa12864100
Yuba1001982
Tehama9433107
Humboldt9180107
Nevada911690
Mendocino758487
Lassen753046
San Benito741672
Tuolumne682889
Lake6583104
Amador540764
Siskiyou446442
Glenn434232
Calaveras386580
Del Norte357441
Colusa303018
Inyo205540
Mono16643
Plumas16126
Mariposa132315
Trinity86911
Modoc6755
Unassigned2120
Sierra1820
Alpine1030
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