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Missouri AFL-CIO forms COVID-19 Task Force, sends requests to Parson


The Missouri AFL-CIO created a coronavirus task force — made up of members from retail, service, manufacturing, and health care industries, among others — because the state “is moving too slowly to protect workers” during the global pandemic. 

More than 650 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19 this month, and nine people have died. Missouri has been under a state of emergency since March 13. 

The task force is made up of representatives for building trades, education, health care, manufacturing, retail, and service in both the public and private sectors. 

“We got them together because we knew that what we were hearing from our members just wasn’t coinciding with what Gov. [Mike] Parson was doing,” Mike Louis, the Missouri AFL-CIO president, told The Missouri Times. “In our opinion, everything he did, he was doing the right thing, but he was moving at a snail’s pace. It should have been more, and it could have been quicker.” 

“We’ve got an ear with Missouri workers that [Parson] doesn’t,” Louis added. “He’s talking to employers, and he’s not really talking to the grocery store workers who are out there working every day or people who are still cleaning hotel rooms, but we are.” 

Along with the announcement of the task force, the Missouri AFL-CIO penned an open letter to the state’s chief executive with eight coronavirus response requests. Among them is a request that all workers employed by what is deemed an essential business be given the status of first responders “for the purposes of all safety precautions.” 

UFCW Local 655 has also pushed Parson to designate grocery and retail workers as “first responders.” 

Additionally, the Missouri AFL-CIO asked Parson to create a statewide task force to handle the mitigation of coronavirus across the state. That task force should include at least three labor representatives, the letter said. 

Louis said he has not talked with Parson or anyone in his administration in the wake of the open letter. The group has also sent a hard copy of the letter to the Governor’s Office. 

A spokesperson for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.