Grocery and Retail Workers' Union Says Oklahoma Needs Mask Requirement

Sep 18, 2020

Credit Roland Leach / U.S. Air Force

The union representing grocery and retail workers is calling on Gov. Kevin Stitt to implement a statewide mask requirement.

United Food and Commercial Workers Oklahoma representative Fitz Jennings told lawmakers during an interim study this week the workers they represent are among the lowest-paid and most likely to be exposed on the job.

Jennings said things are generally good in cities like Tulsa and Oklahoma City that have instituted mask requirements, but in other places where only employees must mask up, customers aren’t doing their part.

"I go into locations where no one is wearing a mask.That puts our members, it puts their customers and it puts all of our communities at greater risk," Jennings said.

Many big retailers like Target and Costco have taken it upon themselves to require masks even if the city they’re in don’t. Jennings said that creates a "perverse incentive."

"Some of the smaller companies are seeing a boom in their business because folks who do not want to wear a mask are refusing to shop at some of the bigger companies. And so, all are flocking to the stores where the employees might be wearing masks, but they don’t have to," Jennings said.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended a statewide mask requirement in nearly all of its weekly reports on Oklahoma’s outbreak, including the most recent one. Stitt has said the recommendation is just that and has repeatedly said he will not require masks.