Union calls for protections following deadly Kroger shooting

Memphis, Tenn — The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is calling on leaders to put emergency situation protections and protocols in place after a gunman walked into a Kroger last week and shot 15 people.

Union representatives for thousands of grocery store employees in the Mid-South are calling on the chain to make changes to protect workers.

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“I’ve since been out shopping, and I’ve been hyperaware of my surroundings,” Becky Hammond told FOX13.

Hammond said her head is on a swivel in public following the mass shooting in Kroger.

“This is my community. This is my Kroger. I knew some of the workers, had friends who knew Olivia, the woman who passed. So it affected me,” said Hammond.

Of the 15 people shot Thursday, 10 were employees and five were shoppers. To protect workers in the future, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1529 is calling for worker emergency situation protection and protocols.

“It seems like big-box grocery stores are being targeted, and we have to do whatever we can to protect those workers,” said Leon Sheppard, UFCW Local 1529 President.

Some protocols include annual paid training for all workers on dangerous emergency procedures and armed security at all stores and fuel centers while workers are present.

“It would definitely be a deterrent if someone tried to walk into the front door and there was an armed guard there. Because I believe the gentleman the other day just walked right in and started firing,” said Sheppard.

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Sheppard is also calling on Kroger to offer employer-paid counseling, therapy and similar trauma or crisis service for workers related to dangerous emergencies

“We’ve made a lot of proposals and had a lot of conversations regarding safety, the pandemic, and emergency situations as well,” said Sheppard.

“We are such a close-knit community. We will heal,” said Hammond.

UFCW represents 7500 frontline workers at Kroger stores in Memphis and its neighboring areas.

According to a release, UFCW presented Kroger with a proposal on June 29 that included the following:

  • Store closure and reopening plan and agreement after a dangerous emergency has occurred.
  • Procedures for workers to protect themselves and co-workers during dangerous emergencies.
  • Ongoing updates to training as new procedures to protect workers against dangerous emergencies develop.
  • Annual paid training for all workers on dangerous emergency procedures.
  • Trained professional armed security present at all stores during all times workers are in the store and the fuel centers.
  • Established paid special administrative leave for workers post a dangerous emergency and agreed-upon procedures for returning to work.
  • Employer-paid counseling, therapy, and similar trauma or crisis service for workers related to the dangerous emergency.

FOX13 reached out to a Kroger representative for a statement about these requests. Once we receive it we will post it here.