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Kroger, UFCW call for designating grocery store workers as ‘first responders’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Several groups of professionals are on the front lines battling against the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some businesses and organizations have been shut down in order to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, some simply cannot close. Supermarkets and grocery stores fit that category of places that cannot shut down. And Kroger and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union want those individuals to receive a distinction for their role in the fight against the virus.

The two organizations are calling for government at both the state and federal level to designate those working at grocery stores to be designated as “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel.”

The CEO of Kroger and the president of the UFCW released the following joint statement:

“Since the onset of this pandemic, Kroger family of companies associates, who are also members of the UFCW, have been working tirelessly to make sure that millions of American families have the fresh food and products they need. As all Americans are now witnessing – grocery workers play a critical role in our communities and they must be protected.

Working together, Kroger and the UFCW have already taken significant steps to keep Kroger associates safe and reward them for their incredible sacrifices throughout this ongoing crisis. The truth is more must be done and it must be done now.

Given the significant daily risk these workers face, we are calling on all of our federal and state leaders to take immediate action. Specifically, we are requesting our nation’s leaders to assign a temporary designation of first responder or emergency personnel status for all grocery workers. Make no mistake, this designation is absolutely critical as it will ensure these frontline workers have priority access to personal protection equipment like masks and gloves.

This urgent call for temporary first responder or emergency personnel status is not just about protecting grocery store workers; it is also about protecting the customers they serve and our nation’s food supply in general.

We urge our national and statewide elected leaders to act now and protect these essential workers.”