Why One Workers' Union Wants Armed Guards In Colorado Grocery Stores

As if the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't hard enough already on grocery store workers, a shooting at a King Soopers in Colorado, and another at a Kroger in Tennessee, has kicked employee stress into high gear. Nationwide violence at grocery stores has seen such a dramatic increase since these two incidents that it has employees like Eddie Chavez, who's been working at a Safeway in Colorado since 1995, fearing for his life every day he comes into work. "I just want everybody to be able to go home at night," Chavez told ABC Denver.

Colorado workers' union Local 7, which represents thousands of employees across Colorado and Wyoming, is now pushing for more security in their state's grocery stores. That means fully trained, armed guards to protect both employees and customers. "We get calls just about every single day from our membership telling us that they're concerned and they're scared to come to work," Local 7 retail director Ramon Zuniga explained to ABC Denver.

It's up to the grocery chains to put security measures in place

While using armed guards to secure grocery stores might seem like a complicated legal matter, the truth is that ultimately it's the grocery store that makes the decision. Local 7's executive board has been negotiating directly with the grocery store chains that their members work at; Ramon Zuniga of Local 7 confirms to ABC Denver that Kroger is currently "evaluating" the idea, while Albertsons is still on the fence. 

Local 7's request might seem far-fetched, but all the ShopRites in Burlington County, New Jersey have already put armed guards in place (via Burlington County Times). The change happened in March 2020, and it was simply to prevent overcrowding and any customer fights that escalated due to the pandemic. A ShopRite security guard told the newspaper that "different measures have been taken at each individual ShopRite location," depending on the needs of each store. Whether for a global pandemic or the threat of a shooting, Local 7 is now trusting the grocery stores in their own counties to implement those same safety measures.