Coronavirus News: Campaign aims to safeguard grocery store workers amid pandemic

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) launched a new national initiative to help protect the nation's food and grocery store workers amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

The new #ShopSmart add campaign, announced Monday, will feature nationwide digital and TV commercials and will target American grocery shoppers.

The UFCW hopes this initiative will help protect and safeguard the nation's food supply as well as grocery store workers from becoming exposed to the coronavirus.

"The coronavirus pandemic represents the greatest health and safety crisis that America's grocery and food workers have ever faced," UFCW International President Marc Perrone said. "Since the beginning of the outbreak, these workers have been on the front lines of this terrible pandemic."

The UFCW estimates that 30 members have died from COVID-19, and nearly 3,000 food and grocery workers have been directly impacted by COVID-19.

The estimated number of deaths and exposed workers is based on reports from UFCW local unions and includes those who have tested positive for COVID-19, missed work due to self-quarantine, are awaiting test results, have been hospitalized, or are symptomatic.

"While tens of millions of Americans were told to work from home for their safety, grocery store and food workers have never had that option," Perrone said. "More must be done to protect them and our food supply now."

To highlight the growing concern of food and grocery workers, the UFCW released results from a survey of more than 5,000 grocery and food workers.

Customer support for workers and safety issues:
--29% said customers treated them somewhat poorly or very poorly.

Top Customer Safety Issues:
--85% said customers are not practicing social distancing.
--81% said customers are hoarding supplies or groceries.
--62% said customers are blaming employees for shortages
--43% reported instances ofcustomers shouting at employees

Safety Priorities for Grocery Stores
72% supported a limit on the number of customers in stores
49% supported stores banning unruly customers
41% supported stores hiring more security
26% supported stores hiring more workers to meet demand
23% supported advertisements with customer safety tips

Perrone said the key survey results highlight the real fear and concern of food and grocery workers, as well as the need to take a more dramatic series of action to protect workers.

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