Grocery workers shouldn’t be ‘traffic cops’ for store capacity limits, union leader says

Retail stores, union want more protection for workers

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The country’s largest food and retail union is asking for more security at grocery stores so its members don’t have to act like “traffic cops" counting how many shoppers are coming and going.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s extended stay-at-home order, which lasts through May 1, features a rule that limits how many people can be inside an essential business like Kroger.

“We’re limiting to about half of our capacity," Kroger spokesperson Erin Rolfes said when DeWine announced the extension. “We’re prepared to have some cue lines out front if we need it as well.”

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Right now the order is little more than a guideline. Signs out front say how many shoppers can be inside at any given time. Grocery stores largely rely on shoppers to self-regulate while practicing good social distancing.

But with a May 1 target for the phasing out of DeWine’s restrictive orders, the prospect emerges of a longer-term mandate for store capacities — a mandate UCFW Local 75 President Kevin Garvey says none of his 30,000 members should have to enforce.

“Because that’s not what they’re paid to do,” Garvey explained. "They’re paid to wait on the customers and provide the conditions and services in the store.

“If there are restrictions on the amount of people that can enter a store, that should be supervised and overseen by proper security, not our employees, not the members, and if it’s paid for by the state that would be wonderful too.”

Garvey says 15 employees have contracted the novel coronavirus between all the grocery stores, drug stores and packing plants in the ‘Cincinnati area,' which stretches from Lexington to Toledo.

Forty more are in quarantine, he adds. None have died.

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