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Retailer, union look to classify grocery workers as first responders

albertsonslogoAlbertsons Cos. stores — including Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel Osco, Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons supermarkets — joined the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union in announcing 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.

“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," Vivek Sankaran, Albertsons Cos. president and chief executive officer, and UFCW International President Marc Perrone said 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.

“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 Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York; and governors in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have issued executive orders to ensure grocery stores are safer workplaces.

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