Los Angeles, California — UFCW grocery store workers in Los Angeles are demanding employers provide personal protective equipment in the face of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Grocers have moved slowly and inconsistently in response to workers’ safety concerns.
In Los Angeles, UFCW 770 is addressing the lack of action from companies. The union is purchasing needed safety equipment for members. The items read “Union workers paid for this mask.” Although Mayor Eric Garcetti urged all Angelenos to wear face coverings while in public, Ralph’s and other food stores have been slow to comply with safety equipment for employees.
The company has not been as responsive as the crisis demands and that leaves customers, workers, and our families vulnerable,” said Emily Alvarado, a cashier at Ralphs who lives with her 4-year old daughter and elderly parents. “We are experiencing serious safety challenges every day as crowding in stores continues. Kroger finally agreed to let us wear masks but hasn’t provided them for us. They depend on us to show up to work, but it’s clear we can’t depend on these corporations to keep us safe. That’s why we took matters into our own hands.”
Workers are also demanding that all grocery store companies give workers the right to wash their hands every 30 minutes or as needed, add plexiglass barriers at check stands and pharmacy counters, limit crowds and increase sanitizing in the store, among other things. In absence from action from large chains, union members are also calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare frontline grocery and pharmacy store workers emergency personnel.
“Companies are playing a dangerous game right now,” said John Grant, president of UFCW 770. “It’s a slap in the face for them to ask these workers to expose themselves to a deadly, invisible enemy without providing them the necessary protections and training to keep them and their families out of harm’s way – all while these same companies rake in unprecedented profits.”