Maskless Appearance Called Reckless, Disrespectful; Apology Demanded

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s decision to not wear a mask at a press event he held at an Alexandria, Virginia, Safeway was reckless and disrespectful, putting workers’ and customers’ health at risk, the union representing Safeway employees charged.

“Words cannot do justice to how irresponsible the governor’s behavior was,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “By refusing Safeway’s request that all customers wear masks and by failing to keep a six-foot distance from our members, he put their lives and health at risk. Gov. Youngkin owes our members and every customer present at Safeway an apology.

Noting that COVID transmission rates during the Omicron wave are near record highs, with 127 average new cases reported every day in Alexandria alone and more than 8,000 daily new cases statewide, Federici said, “Gov. Youngkin’s actions were reckless, dangerous and disrespectful to Virginia’s hardworking grocery store employees, all of whom are essential frontline workers. He should be modeling the safe, responsible behavior public health experts recommend, not engaging in performative stunts. And for someone who claims to value the private sector and support business, he should have respected Safeway’s reasonable request to wear a mask in the store.

“If Gov. Youngkin wants to earn the support of Virginia’s working men and women, he’s off to disastrous start here,” Federici said. “If he can’t bring himself to have the simple common courtesy of making sure he doesn’t infect others with a deadly disease, what hope is there that he can govern in the best interest of his constituents?”

The United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 is led by President Mark Federici and represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.