Albertsons, UFCW ask for grocery workers to be designated as first responders

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Albertsons has joined up with the nation’s largest food and retail union to attempt to get front-line grocery workers in stores and throughout the operation to be temporarily designated as “extended first responders” or as “emergency personnel” so that they are given prioritized access to testing and protective equipment as they serve during the coronavirus pandemic.

Albertsons, representing employees at its banners including Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel Osco, Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons, are working with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union on the campaign, which included the placing a full-page ad in the New York Times.

UFCW represents 1.3 million employees in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Albertsons president and CEO Vivek Sankaran and UFCW International president Marc Perrone released a joint statement saying the members of the union working in grocery stores are sacrificing every day to protect the country’s food supply and is asking for state and federal governments to do the same by awarding this temporary designation. 

The designation would give the grocery workers access to priority testing, access to gloves, masks, and other protective equipment, they said. “This joint action is an example of how all Americans must work together to protect everyone working on the frontlines," the statement said. "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.”