Albertsons and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are attempting to obtain a temporary designation of “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel” for supermarket associates. With such a designation, grocery workers would be prioritized for COVID-19 testing, and personal protection equipment like masks and gloves.
The joint effort was made last Tuesday in an open letter to policymakers via a full-page print ad in the New York Times.
Albertsons operates 2,200 supermarkets in 34 states, and employs more than 25,000 people. Acme and Safeway are among the company’s 22 banners. UFCW represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, health care, meat packing, food processing, retail and other industries across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
According to UFCW, some states have already given grocery workers benefits – like access to emergency child care – as first responders. Those states include New Jersey, New York, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts and Minnesota. And governors in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have issued executive orders to make grocery work environments safer.
Like many supermarket operators, Albertsons has instituted an extra $2 per hour for frontline associates, offered part-time employment to displaced hospitality workers, and pledged millions of dollars to help feed families during the pandemic.