Despite appeals for immediate action, Missouri Governor Mike Parson is ignoring the dangers posed to tens of thousands of frontline grocery clerks and pharmacy technicians across the state who are potentially putting their health, and possibly lives, on the line to ensure the public has food supplies and can fill their prescriptions during the growing coronavirus pandemic.
“Frontline grocery and pharmacy workers are showing more courage than the governor of Missouri,” said David Cook, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655. “As they stand in front of customers who are potential carriers of the coronavirus, these workers need protections, but the governor refuses to listen any to common sense suggestions to mitigate the danger.”
Cook and others have repeatedly called on Parson to take actions similar to what has already been seen in states like Minnesota and Vermont, where grocery workers are classified as emergency first responders and subject to additional benefits under the law.
It is imperative that these workers receive guarantees like priority testing and access to medical care and safety equipment, additional security at their workplaces, and wage guarantees in the event that they are unable to work due to COVID-19, Cook said.
In a letter to Parson’s office, Cook laid out a series of actions that the governor could immediately take by Executive Order to protect the workers’ health and welfare. So far, Parson has failed to respond.
Cook went on KMOX radio’s Hancock & Kelley show Friday, calling out the governor for ignoring calls to immediately act on this life-and-death issue impacting the more than 8,500 members of Local 655 working for area Schnucks, Dierbergs and Straub’s grocery stores, and grocery clerks and pharmacy technicians across Missouri.
Cook praised the three major area grocers for taking steps to protect their workers.
“I have yet to make one suggestion to protect my workers that they have not implemented,” Cook said. “With schools closed, my partners have kids at home but they feel obligated to serve the public and I commend them on that.
“Grocery clerks and pharmacy technicians serving the public in these circumstances are as much front-line workers in this crisis as are our incredible and brave first responders,” Cook stressed.
Cook urged everyone to call Gov. Parson’s office and ask him to do the right thing for front line grocery workers and pharmacy technicians. You can call the Governor’s office at 573-751-3222 or fill out a form online at governor.mo.gov/contact-us.