On April 7, the UFCW and Albertsons Companies announced a joint national effort to seek a temporary designation of “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel” for grocery workers in the company’s stores. Albertsons Companies employs more than 250,000 workers across the country at Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel Osco, Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons supermarkets and this designation will ensure that these workers are prioritized for testing and provided personal protection equipment during the coronavirus outbreak.
Several states have taken measures to ensure grocery store workers have access to similar benefits and protections as first responders. Grocery store workers have access to emergency childcare in Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. In addition, governors in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have issued executive orders to ensure that grocery stores are safer workplaces.
The UFCW announced the joint effort with Albertsons Companies to address workplace and public safety in an open letter to our nation’s policymakers and influencers in a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone and Albertsons Companies President and CEO Vivek Sankaran released the following statement:
“Since the onset of this pandemic, associates in Albertsons Companies 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. 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.
“The temporary designation of first responder or emergency personnel status would help ensure these incredible grocery workers have 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 health care 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.”
A copy of The New York Times advertisement announcing the joint effort can be seen here.
Over the past few weeks, the UFCW and local unions have been working with employers to secure the protections these frontline workers need to stay safe and continue doing this essential work during the pandemic. Working with Kroger and Safeway/Albertsons, the UFCW secured new protective measures for 710,000 grocery workers across the country who work at these stores. In Stop & Shop stores across New England, New York, and New Jersey, 70,000 grocery workers received an additional two weeks of paid sick leave to ensure they are able to stay safe and healthy on the job.
You can read more about the UFCW’s effort to protect our members and the customers they serve here.