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Union asks for armed security at some Colorado grocery store chains

While several grocery stores in the area already have security guards, this most recent push is for all Colorado stores under certain companies to have them.

DENVER — For Eduardo Alvarado, working at King Soopers is a job he's loved since 1997. 

"I mean, I get to provide food for my customers," he said. 

That love for the job runs in the family too. 

"My daughter works here, my wife, my mom," he said. 

Having family working at the same job makes his desire for a safer workplace that much greater.

"It's kind of sad to have that talk with your daughter, with your wife, and trying to come up with a plan on what's going to happen," he said. 

Alvarado is a member of the local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Local 7), which has been asking big grocery store employers like Safeway and King Soopers to add armed security guards at all of its stores in the state. 

Some stores under those particular chains already have security guards, but this most recent push is for all of its stores. 

“I feel like if we have an armed guard 24/7 in all of the stores, it would definitely deter some of these problems that are going on," he said. 

Credit: Mat Gaskins
The front doors to a grocery store.

Ramon Zuniga, a director at UFCW Local 7, said the request for more security in stores is something he's heard a lot recently from members. 

The chapter represents thousands of workers in grocery stores and other industries in Colorado and Wyoming. 

"We just finished having meetings with our membership this month, and that was one of the biggest concerns that I heard," he said. "They're afraid that--you know, if a customer comes in and they're disgruntled, they're afraid of what they can do." 

The union said it's been writing letters to companies about their concerns since 2018, most recently to Safeway and King Soopers. 

The push comes in the months after the deadly shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder, and a more recent shooting at a Kroger in Tennessee

But the pandemic has been another reason for the push.

Alvarado said, "Coworkers who are like, hey, this customer got mad because the other customer wasn’t wearing a mask."

"The well-being of our associates and customers is a top priority, every day," a King Soopers spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. "We continually and substantially invest in training and in various other safety measures."

The statement says King Soopers associates have participated in an incremental personal safety training program for more than five years.

"Unfortunately, violent incidents and other emergency events are unpredictable," the statement says. "There isn’t going to be a one size fits all plan that applies to and can address any and every single situation. Instead, they must be confronted and dealt with on a case-by-case basis. One thing is certain and evident: We care deeply about our associates and customers; and have supported them when a heartbreaking tragedy or an emergency situation has occurred, and we always will."

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