The union that represents about 22,000 grocery workers at Ralphs and Food 4 Less in Southern California announced today that their employer has agreed to provide them with access to free COVID-19 testing.
"That UFCW members successfully compelled Kroger to provide testing is a significant victory for the public's health," said John Grant, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770. "Grocery corporations like Kroger have been doubling and tripling their profits while other businesses are shuttering, yet they have been slow to implement safety measures and share profits with essential workers on the front line."
Starting this month, Kroger Health, the healthcare division of the company, confirmed it will begin offering COVID-19 testing to associates, based on symptoms and medical need, through a combination of self-administered kits and drive-thru testing sites.
"At Kroger, the safety and health of our associates and customers remains our top priority during this unprecedented time," said Tim Massa, Kroger's senior vice president. "Our associates have worked tirelessly to provide communities continued access to fresh, affordable food. We are dedicated to providing support and gratitude to our associates across the country."
Since the start of the pandemic, grocery workers have called for emergency measures inside the stores and access to testing to slow the spread of the virus and keep workers and community members safe, according to the UFCW Local 770.
Grocery workers at the "Rock and Roll Ralphs" in Hollywood staged a May Day protest on Friday, after many workers at the store reported they had tested positive for the virus, according to the union.
In addition to testing, the UFCW Local 770 is calling for:
- Deep cleaning of an entire store when someone tests positive and a 24-hour store closure for sanitation;
- Employers to provide notifications to affected workers and evaluation of who to quarantine when someone contracts COVID-19;
- Access to testing for all workers when someone contracts COVID-19;
- A joint union and management safety and health committee in all stores. The committee would include workers with the purpose of reviewing conditions in each store and making recommendations to ensure compliance with state and local regulations and a safe worksite; and,
- Procedural review by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Department and CalOSHA at a store where someone tests positive for COVID- 19 to ensure it is in compliance with public health standards and to notify workers about what has and has not been done and still needs to be done.