Grocery workers union president said employees are feeling the demand over COVID-19 shopping rush

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ST. LOUIS – They’re the workers who are keeping the country fed right now. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, grocery store employees are feeling the strain of demand.

David Cook, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655, which represents approximately 10,000 workers throughout Missouri and southwestern Illinois, says they’re feeling the demand that’s been placed upon them.

Employees at area grocery stores are working day and night to keep up with the demand during these early days of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I want to say the companies have been great – Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Straubs,” Cook said. “They are stepping up every request we’ve made for safety precautions they’re implementing.”

David Cook says the grocery and pharmacy workers his union represents are on the front lines of ensuring food supplies during the coronavirus spread worldwide.

He’s wanting them to be considered as first responders and says his workers are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“They are stressed beyond belief. This is a more sustained business than anybody has every projected. This isn’t like a Thanksgiving or Christmas, this is a frenzied purchasing taking place right now,” Cook said. “Let me assure the public. I’m in contact with my food suppliers every day. The food supply is good. The food chain is good. It’s getting there. But they can’t supply what the public is buying right now. Let’s be real with each other – we don’t need to buy seven gallons of milk. We don’t need to buy five loaves of bread. We need to buy a little more than we usually do and back some up.”

Cook is asking for patience with grocery workers and pharmacy technicians, some working 10-hour days.

His office has been sending updates to employees who he says are putting their health and lives at risk to keep up with the demand.

Cook adds that many grocery stores are hiring employees currently.

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