Executive Order provides grocery and food distribution workers access to free child care services, but falls short of designating workers as “first responders”

LANDOVER, MD (March 27, 2020) United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, which represents thousands of union workers in grocery stores and food processing facilities, applauded Governor Larry Hogan today for signing an order to classify all “food distributors and suppliers” as “essential persons,” making them eligible for access to free child care services during the COVID-19 crisis.

“This is a crucial first step to addressing the needs of our members working on the frontlines of this crisis,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici. “But more must be done. We are calling on Governor Hogan and every state to declare all grocery store, pharmacy, and food processing workers as ‘first responders’ so they may also be eligible to get free coverage for all coronavirus treatments and tests, as well as the medicines and personal protective equipment they need to stay safe on the job while they continue to serve our communities.”

UFCW launched an online action targeting governors of all states as well as the mayor of Washington, D.C. to designate grocery store, pharmacy, and food processing workers as “first responders.” The action has already generated hundreds of messages to governors in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Mayor Bowser in Washington, D.C.

UFCW Local 400 has called on every employer to institute a suite of new policies to protect workers and customers, including:

  • Mandating an additional 14 paid sick days to be used without the need to a positive COVID-19 test or quarantine order
  • Mandating paid leave of 12 weeks for those in high risk categories such as those over 60, immune-compromised individuals, and those who need to care for sick loved ones
  • Access to free childcare
  • Increased security at all stores, both through store security and increased police patrols
  • Banning any discipline relating to time and attendance
  • Mandatory wiping down of grocery carts, self-scan screens, and credit card touch screens after each use
  • Limiting the number of customers in a store
  • Public address announcements at regular intervals reminding people to maintain a 6-foot distance from employees and other customers
  • Requiring a 6-foot distance be kept from cashiers and other customers in line at check stands
  • Requiring shorter store hours to allow for additional cleaning, stocking, and rest time
  • Mandating that employees be allowed to wear masks and gloves even if they are not sick
  • Requiring employers to provide adequate amounts of masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer
  • Mandating hazard pay with a minimum of at least $2 about the current minimum wage and double time for any overtime hours worked

Some employers, including Giant Food, Kroger, Safeway and Shoppers grocery chains as well as CVS, Keurig Dr Pepper, and Boar’s Head Provisions, have taken steps to provide temporary pay increases and sick leave, as well as enhanced cleaning procedures and social distancing protocols while employees are working during the crisis. The details of those changes are listed on the union website at www.ufcw400.org.


The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 represents 35,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.