Albertsons Cos. stores—including Safeway, Acme Markets, Jewel Osco, Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons supermarkets—and United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union, are working in a joint national effort to seek a temporary designation of “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel” for supermarket associates to ensure that they are prioritized for testing and provided personal protection equipment during the coronavirus outbreak.
The UFCW announced the joint effort to address workplace and public safety in an open letter to the nation’s policymakers and influencers in a full-page advertisement April 7 in the New York Times print edition of the newspaper.
Albertsons Cos. President and CEO Vivek Sankaran and UFCW International President Marc Perrone 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 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 frontlines. 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 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 the following states: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York.
Governors in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have issued executive orders to ensure grocery stores are safer workplaces.