Following nearly two dozen positive diagnoses of COVID-19 at a Ralphs in Hollywood and several protests, grocery workers represented by the UFCW Local 770 learned Monday that Kroger, which owns Ralphs and Food 4 Less, has agreed to provide free, voluntary COVID-19 testing to all members at its flagship Hollywood store. 

Since the start of the pandemic, grocery workers have called for emergency measures inside the stores and wide access to testing to slow the spread of the virus and keep workers and community members safe. 

Grocery workers at the “Rock and Roll Ralphs” in Hollywood staged a May Day protest after many workers at the store reported a positive diagnosis. On April 27, workers and community supporters surrounded a Koreatown Food 4 Less to support a coworker who is recovering from COVID-19. 

“Testing is a key ingredient to slowing the spread of the virus and keeping workers and customers safe,” said Kathy Finn, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 770. “With so many asymptomatic people, regular testing is essential to safety. Kroger has met the demands of workers at the Rock and Roll Ralphs and now they must expand testing to all workers.”

Jackie Mayoral, who works at the Hollywood Ralphs, is currently recovering from  COVID-19. She has called for free testing for all workers as well as other safety measures to ensure public health. 

“Grocery workers are on the frontlines, but we are not being treated like we are essential. We are getting sick and it needs to stop. Free testing for essential workers who are serving the public should be required,” Mayoral said. “I’m glad I stuck my neck out. I want others to be safe and to know if they have been exposed or not.”

Twenty-two grocery workers have reported testing positive for COVID-19 at the Ralphs, located at 7257 W. Sunset Blvd. With 129 workers total, this means 17% of the store’s unionized workforce is infected with the virus. This store has the most publicly reported positive cases of grocery retail workers in California.

About UFCW Local 770

UFCW Local 770 represents over 20,000 grocery workers in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. Overall, the union represents more than 30,000 members in the retail food, retail pharmacy, meatpacking and food processing, laboratory, and cannabis industries. 

Its retail members are disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, the union has won a $2 temporary pay boost for union members at many Southern California grocery and drug chains including Albertsons, Vons, Gelsons, Super A, Stater Brothers, and Rite Aid. The UFCW has worked with local and state officials to win protections for grocery workers including access to personal protective gear and crowd control measures in stores.  It also worked with Gov. Gavin Newsom to win two weeks of paid quarantine leave for all food chain workers, which covers nearly 3 million workers in California. 

Click here for more COVID-19 coverage and how it is affecting the refrigerated and frozen foods industry.