Albertsons, UFCW Want Grocery Workers Classified as First Responders
Albertsons Cos. and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the largest food and retail union in the United States, have launched a joint national effort to seek a temporary designation of “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel” for supermarket employees to ensure that they’re prioritized for testing and given personal protection equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic.
In support of this undertaking, the entities placed a full-page advertisement in the April 7 print edition of The New York Times.
“Since the onset of this pandemic, associates in Albertsons Cos. stores, who are also proud members of UFCW union, have been working tirelessly to make sure that America’s families have the food and groceries they need,” noted Albertsons President and CEO Vivek Sankaran and UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a joint statement. “These men and women are sacrificing every day to protect our nation’s food supply, and now is the time for our leaders in state and federal governments to do the same for them protect our nation’s food supply, and now is the time for our leaders in state and federal governments to do the same for them."
Added Sankaran and Perrone: “The temporary designation of first responder or emergency personnel status would help ensure these incredible grocery workers access to priority testing, have access to personal protection equipment, like masks and gloves, as well other workplace protections necessary to keep themselves and the customers they serve safe and healthy.
“This joint action is an example of how all Americans must work together to protect everyone working on the front lines. This includes not only our brave first responders and healthcare workers but also associates at our nation’s grocery stores who are providing communities with the essential food and supplies needed to weather this public health crisis.”
Several states have already taken measures to ensure that grocery store workers have access to similar benefits and protections as first responders. For instance, supermarket associates have access to emergency child care in California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York, and the governors of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have issued executive orders to ensure grocery stores are safer workplaces.
At least four grocery workers have died of COVID-19, according to The Washington Post and other media outlets.
Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., which operates stores across 35 states and the District of Columbia under 20 banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs, as well as meal-kit company Plated, is No. 3 on Progressive Grocer’s Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.
Based in Washington, D.C., the UFCW is the largest private-sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in health care, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.