LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The union that represents roughly 22,000 grocery workers at Ralphs and Food 4 Less in Southern California announced Monday that Kroger has agreed to provide access to free COVID-19 testing for workers.

“That UFCW members successfully compelled Kroger to provide testing is a significant victory for the public’s health,” John Grant, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770, said. “Grocery corporations like Kroger have been doubling and tripling their profits while other businesses are shuttering, yet they have been slow to implement safety measures and share profits with essential workers on the front line.”

Starting this month, Kroger Health, the healthcare division of the company, confirmed it would start offering COVID-19 testing to associates, based on symptoms and medical need, through a combination of self-administered kits and drive-thru testing sites.

“At Kroger, the safety and health of our associates and customers remains our top priority during this unprecedented time,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s senior vice president. “Our associates have worked tirelessly to provide communities continued access to fresh, affordable food. We are dedicated to providing support and gratitude to our associates across the country.”

The announcement came just days after grocery workers at the Rock and Roll Ralphs in Hollywood staged a May Day protest Friday, after 21 workers at the store tested positive for COVID-19.

In addition to testing, UFCW Local 770 is calling for:

  • deep cleaning of an entire store when an employee tests positive and a 24-hour store closure for sanitation;
  • notification for affected workers and evaluation of who to quarantine when someone contracts COVID-19;
  • access to testing for all workers when someone contracts COVID-19;
  • a safety and health committee at each store comprised of both union and management representatives; and
  • a review by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Department and CalOSHA at a store where someone tests positive for COVID-19.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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