Grocery workers ask you to #ShopSmart during pandemic

Members of UFCW Local 1189 are keeping food and critical supplies on the shelves of local grocery stores, but they’re asking for our help keeping themselves – and all of us – healthy.

Going grocery shopping? Retail workers have a few polite requests for your consideration.

Wear a mask if you have one. Go alone if you can. Keep six feet between you and others in the store. And don’t leave trash – especially not gloves or tissues – on the floor.

In other words, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1189 President Jennifer Christensen said, “shop smart” until the pandemic is over – please and thank you.

“It’s about keeping yourself safe, keeping the workers safe and keeping the community safe,” said Christensen, whose union represents workers at Cub Foods, Jerry’s, Kowalskis, Lunds and Byerlys, Festival, Cooper’s, Oxendales and other union grocers in the east-metro area.

“It’s about all of us doing the right thing to ensure that everybody has safe access to food.”

Bakery Workers (BCTGM) Local 22 represents people working inside many of the same stores. Union President Wally Borgen said most employers have made unions aware of management’s plans for dealing with potential exposure to COVID-19, with many committed to a full facility shutdown for deep cleaning.

To prevent that from happening, employers are taking extreme precautions, Borgen added.

“Most companies are following a very diligent sanitizing plan, many with dedicated employees who simply spend the entire day sanitizing and re-sanitizing any surface that is touched frequently,” he said. “Most of them are also enforcing the 20-second hand washing rule, some literally observing with stop watches and issuing discipline to employees who don’t do a good enough job.”

So far, it’s worked well.

Minnesota has avoided the fate of areas forced to limit the number of customers allowed into the store at one time, or consider delivery-only options. And union members, many of whom are earning bonus “appreciation pay” during the pandemic, want to keep it that way.

“Our members are going to work, and I know they’re happy to be working, proud to be working,” Christensen said. “And they want to stay working, but that means they need to stay healthy.”

The UFCW’s international union launched the #ShopSmart campaign on social media and other channels earlier this month after a poll of some 5,000 members found 85% said customers are not practicing social distancing, 62% said customers are blaming employees for shortages and 43% reported instances of customers shouting at employees

“We really are all in this together,” Christensen said. “It’s a people business, and it’s hard to get away from people in these stores. They weren’t built for social distancing. But you can get six feet apart if you try, and that’s what we’re asking.”

As of last week’s print deadline, no UFCW Local 1189 grocery workers had tested positive for COVID-19, nor had any member of BCTGM Local 22.


%d bloggers like this: