• The CEO of Albertsons Companies and the president of a major retail union are calling on government officials to protect grocery workers.
  • United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or the UFCW, released a statement to Business Insider announcing that it had partnered with the retailer.
  • Albertsons and UFCW are seeking "a temporary designation of 'extended first responders' or 'emergency personnel' for supermarket associates."
  • The retail company and the union argue that grocery employees risking their safety on the frontlines should receive the designation in order to receive priority COVID-19 testing.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A major North American supermarket company and the largest food and retail union in the United States have teamed up to push for grocery store employees to be designated as "first responders."

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or the UFCW, released a statement to Business Insider saying that it had partnered with the Albertsons Companies in "a joint national effort to seek a temporary designation of 'extended first responders' or 'emergency personnel' for supermarket associates."

According to UFCW, that designation would provide frontline grocery store workers with prioritization when it comes to the distribution of COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment. Albertsons Companies owns grocery chains like Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Pavilions, and its namesake supermarkets. The UFCW represents the workers in these stores.

Vivek Sankaran, Albertsons Companies' president and CEO, and Marc Perrone, UFCW International's president,  released a joint statement to state and federal government officials.

"The temporary designation of first responder or emergency personnel status would help ensure these incredible grocery workers access to priority testing, have access to personal protection equipment, like masks and gloves, as well other workplace protections necessary to keep themselves and the customers they serve safe and healthy," Sankaran and Perrone said in a joint statement.

Retail employees themselves have called for more COVID-19 testing and protective measures for frontline grocery workers. 

"We need more testing," a Safeway employee from California told Business Insider. "I'm surprised no one has been tested at my store."

As part of its campaign to secure an "emergency personnel" designation for grocery workers, Albertsons and UFCW took out an advertisement calling on the public to remember "the dedicated grocery and pharmacy employees who continue to serve our communities during this critical time" in the New York Times.

"This joint action is an example of how all Americans must work together to protect everyone working on the front lines," Sankaran and Perrone said in a joint statement. "This includes not only our brave first responders and healthcare workers but also associates at our nation's grocery stores who are providing communities with the essential food and supplies needed to weather this public health crisis."

Are you a retail worker? Business Insider wants to hear from you. Email covidtips@businessinsider.com.

Read the full statement from Albertsons Companies President and CEO Vivek Sankaran and UFCW International President Marc Perrone:

Since the onset of this pandemic, associates in Albertsons Companies stores, who are also proud members of UFCW union, have been working tirelessly to make sure that America's families have the food and groceries they need. These men and women are sacrificing every day to protect our nation's food supply, and now is the time for our leaders in state and federal governments to do the same for them. 

The temporary designation of first responder or emergency personnel status would help ensure these incredible grocery workers access to priority testing, have access to personal protection equipment, like masks and gloves, as well other workplace protections necessary to keep themselves and the customers they serve safe and healthy.

This joint action is an example of how all Americans must work together to protect everyone working on the front lines. This includes not only our brave first responders and healthcare workers but also associates at our nation's grocery stores who are providing communities with the essential food and supplies needed to weather this public health crisis.

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