The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest food and retail union in the United States, spotlighted its national safety initiative, #ShopSmart, with a full-page ad in the April 26 edition of The New York Times. At a time when the possibility of closing brick-and-mortar supermarkets has been discussed as a way to slow the coronavirus pandemic, the initiative aims to help keep grocery stores open and to encourage consumers to take three basic steps to protect grocery employees from COVID-19: Always wear a mask or face covering when shopping, respect social distancing at all times, and discard used masks and gloves safely.
Besides the Times ad, the UFCW’s six-figure national media campaign for #ShopSmart, which launched earlier this month, includes a PSA-style television ad running in 21 media markets across eight states, including the major media markets of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. and a social media advertising effort.
“To keep our grocery workers safe and grocery stores open for all, it is essential that Americans #ShopSmart and take easy steps to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Marc Perrone, president of Washington, D.C.-based UFCW International. “All we are asking is that shoppers take these easy safety steps – beginning with always wearing a mask – to help protect these essential grocery workers and make sure that grocery stores continue to be open and a safe place to shop for all of our families. Working together, we can do this, but only if all Americans realize the power that each of us has to fight this virus.”
According to the union, there are more than 1 million grocery workers currently striving to protect the nation’s food supply.
Meanwhile, the UFCW and Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop have issued a joint call for grocery workers to be classified as first responders, following similar moves by Albertsons and Kroger.
"This critical status would help ensure ... essential grocery workers have priority access to testing, emergency child care and other protections to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy," noted Perrone and Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid.
The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers in health care, grocery stores, meatpacking, food-processing, retail shops and other industries in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Stop & Shop employs nearly 60,000 associates and operates more than 400 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 4 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.