WASHINGTON- During a conference call on June 25, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) said that 93 members who work in meatpacking or food processing facilities have died from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The union also said 4,978 workers have been diagnosed, waiting for results or are symptomatic.

Mark Lauritsen, UFCW vice president and head of the food processing and meatpacking division, laid out standards that the union is expecting from companies and the government to keep workers safe.

“Given this crisis, the time is long past for leaders to take immediate action and protect the very workers that have helped this nation weather this historic crisis,” Lauritsen said. “The status quo is simply no longer acceptable, and we need real change to start now.”

Lauritsen called for more oversight and enforcements from the government instead of companies following recommendations.

Next, Lauritsen addressed to the urgent need for rapid COVID-19 tests to be available at meat processing facilities around the US and making the highest level of personal protective equipment available for employees. Another requirement Lauriston wanted to see was reducing line speeds at plants to facilitate social distancing among workers at processing plants.

Finally, he asked for more protection of workers by regulatory agencies and less liability protection for food companies.