March 20, 2020

Duckworth Discusses Her Efforts to Protect Workers During COVID-19 Outbreak with UFCW Local 881 President


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) spoke with Steven Powell, President of the Illinois-based United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 881, today about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on workers employed by grocery store, pharmacies and nursing homes. Local 881 represents 34,000 workers in Illinois and Northwest Indiana, many of whom will be expected to continue going to work during the shelter-in-place order announced today by Governor J.B. Pritzker.

“UFCW employees are working on the front lines of this pandemic to make sure that Illinoisans are able to access the food, prescriptions and care they need,” Duckworth said. “They deserve our thanks and our support, and I’ll keep working to make sure we do everything we can to keep them safe from COVID-19 as they continue working during this crisis.”

Since the COVID-19 public health crisis began, Senator Duckworth has led with a wide range of actions designed to encourage the Federal Government to better support Americans and help our nation respond to the pandemic, including supporting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that the President signed into law to push the Trump Administration to refocus its efforts on testing and access to tests. Early on, she was one of the first Senators to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately establish clear diagnostic testing procedures, capabilities and production capacity to better mitigate the spread of COVID-19. She introduced the COVID-19 Health Care Worker Protection Act to help keep frontline healthcare workers safe, cosponsored the Free COVID-19 Testing Act, which would expand free tests to confirm coronavirus infections, and helped introduce the comprehensive COVID-19 RELIEF for Small Businesses Act of 2020 to help support small businesses across the country and give them the resources they need to weather this crisis and she helped introduce legislation that passed both the House and the Senate to make sure student Veterans and their loved ones receiving benefits through the GI Bill continue receiving full benefits as universities move online. Duckworth also joined her colleagues on the PAID Leave Act (Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act) to provide additional support to workers and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak and future public health emergencies and helped introduce the Small Business Debt Relief Act of 2020 to ensure every small business with a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan would be relieved of their SBA loan payments.

In addition to her legislative work, Duckworth joined U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in demanding additional federal resources from the Trump Administration for O’Hare International Airport after hundreds of passengers were forced to wait in close quarters for hours in order to clear medical screenings at customs. She called on Donald Trump to take immediate, concrete and decisive action under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost production of critical life-saving ventilators. She also called on U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work together to ensure civilian healthcare workers are well-trained to use military-issued respirator masks and other personal protective equipment that DOD has made available to civilian healthcare providers during COVID-19 pandemic. Duckworth joined a bipartisan group of Senators urging the Trump Administration expand access to telehealth services to rural communities and she pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information on the potential shortage of enzymes needed for CDC coronavirus test kits. The Senator is also seeking information from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper about any proactive steps the Department of Defense is taking to ensure the readiness of National Guard and Reserve units to support local civilian authorities as the pandemic spreads.