Coloradans for the Common Good (CCG), a broad-based organization of congregations, unions, and civic organizations, took action in support of additional protections to grocery store workers in Colorado. Clergy, union presidents and nonprofit directors met with Governor Polis Tuesday afternoon, and were pleased to gain his support to further protect essential workers who may have been overlooked in recent Executive Orders.

CCG leaders asked the Governor to designate grocery store and food processing workers as First Responders during the Covid-19 public health emergency. Citing that, along with police, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, and health care workers, grocery store employees are on the front lines ensuring a consistent supply of food and critical merchandise to the general public. This meeting was held in conjunction with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 (UFCW), who recently proposed a list of policies to the Governor’s office to protect grocery store and other food supply chain workers.

“We support the regulations proposed by UFCW Local 7,” said Marilyn Winokur, Chair of Coloradans for the Common Good and member of B’nai Havurah, Denver Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, “because these provisions are absolutely necessary to protect the public as well as the workers. Most of us are at home, but grocery store workers must go to work. A healthy and strong food service workforce—at the store, the warehouse, the food processing centers—is critical to our getting through this crisis together.”

As a result, Governor Polis issued a letter to the parent companies of King Soopers and Safeway stores, supporting the groups’ positions. Governor Polis also assured CCG and UFCW leaders during the meeting that food workers were considered essential workers and qualified for priority childcare, including up to two weeks free childcare, and other protections afforded to first responders during this crisis.

“We commend Governor Polis for taking steps to protect workers who are making additional sacrifices for us,” said Rev. Reagan Humber, pastor of House for All Sinners & Saints, “but we’ve learned that unless these protections are clearly stated in policy, vulnerable workers will continue to suffer. It appears that grocery store workers are not currently named as essential workers in the Governor’s order providing emergency paid leave or in the list of occupations slated to receive childcare benefits. We’ve shared this recent discovery with the Governor’s office and look forward to seeing those changes in policies very soon.”