Grocery Workers' Union Seeks Same Coronavirus Protections as First Responders

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The union representing thousands of grocery store workers in D.C. wants its members treated like first responders regarding protections from the coronavirus.

Some grocery store employees say they are concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 while delivering essential food to the community.

“They don’t know if they can have it. They don’t know if the guy next to them has it,” grocery store employee Dave Bracken said. “You just don’t know.”

UFCW Local 400, the union representing more than 8,000 grocery store employees in D.C., wants Mayor Muriel Bowser to designate grocery, pharmacy and food processing workers as first responders.

“We’re on the front lines. We’re dealing with many people, many coworkers, many customers,” Bracken said.

“We’re also concerned about our customers because if any of our members are sick, and perhaps asymptomatic, they may not be aware that they’re sick. They could be infecting others at the grocery store,” union spokesman Jonathan Williams said.

The declaration would allow grocery store workers to get COVID-19 testing and more protections at work.


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The union says one member tested positive this week and several members are being quarantined.

“Unfortunately, because they are not designated as first responders, they don’t have access to the testing, treatment or protective equipment they need,” Williams said.

The union is seeking the same protections for grocery stores in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

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