In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, three states have classified grocery workers as members of the essential workforce. As such, supermarket employees in Minnesota, Michigan and Vermont will have access to child care in a similar way to health care workers.
The Washington, D.C.-based United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) applauded the states for recognizing those providing families the food and supplies they need.
"As our country confronts this outbreak and its devastating impact on our economy, there has never been a more important time for strong leadership," wrote UFCW International President Marc Perrone. "Congress must follow the lead of these states and provide paid leave and other essential protections needed to support the brave grocery and retail workers keeping our communities strong."
In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz specifically added store clerks, stockers, food preparation personnel, cleaning staff and deli staff at grocery stores to the list of Emergency Tier 2 workers, according to NBC News. Workers in those occupations with school-age children can now receive child care.
The Michigan executive order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offers similar provisions, while in Vermont, the government is developing a plan to reimburse private child care centers for children of essential workers.
UFCW has also sent a letter to President Trump and congressional leaders mentioning what they say is a need for at least two weeks of paid sick leave for all workers, extension of unemployment benefits for workers temporarily laid off or whose work hours have been disrupted, and protection against unfair termination or discrimination for those suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus.