Grocery workers union wants Virginia food workers declared ‘first responders’

A union representing workers at a number of Virginia grocery stores is calling on the Governor to classify food workers as first responders amid the coronavirus crisis.

In a news release sent out Tuesday, UFCW Local 400 officials said they were calling on Governor Ralph Northam to designate all “grocery, retail, pharmacy, and food processing workers as ‘first responders’ so they can access free testing, treatment and personal protective equipment needed to protect workers essential to the food supply chain.”

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The union represents workers at Kroger, Giant, Safeway and Shoppers; along with workers at food processing facilities in Virginia.

They noted that 14 cases of coronavirus have been reported at 12 grocery stores in the state, and three other cases have been confirmed at two food processing facilities.

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Grocery store workers in a number of states – including Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan and Vermont – have already received the designation, according to the union.

And while workers in Maryland are classified as “essential,” that designation doesn’t go so far as to offer them testing, treatment or protective equipment.