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'They're scared': Colorado union pushing for armed guards at grocery stores after rash of violence

Safeway in Colorado
Posted at 5:06 PM, Sep 28, 2021

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Following recent violence at grocery stores around the country, a union representing thousands of workers is pushing to add armed security guards to stores in Colorado.

The pandemic has made the past 18 months challenging for grocery store workers. Add on the tragedies of the King Soopers shooting in Boulder and the recent Kroger shooting in Tennessee and they'll tell you they're at a breaking point.

"A lot of them, they're scared. They really are," Eddie Chavez said.

He's worked for Safeway in Colorado since 1995, and not a day goes by when he doesn't think about leaving.

"I just want everybody to be able to go home at night," Chavez said.

The recent violence has changed his daily routine, with him looking over his shoulder more often. And he's not alone.

"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 because of this uptick in violence," Ramon Zuniga, UFCW Local 7's retail director, said.

The union represents thousands of grocery store workers in Colorado and Wyoming. Its leadership has been trying to convince companies like Kroger and Albertsons to have armed security guards at their local King Soopers and Safeway stores.

"Not just any armed security, but we want trained professionals to keep our membership safe. And not just our members, but also the members of the community," Zuniga said.

Kroger, he says, is evaluating the idea, but he's not sure where Albertsons stands.

"The longer the company waits, you know, they're putting our members lives at risk," Zuniga said.

Chavez, who also serves on the union's executive board, knows an armed guard won't fix all the problems, but it's a move in the right direction.

"I feel that if somebody had bad intent, that if they saw an armed guard at the front door, that they wouldn't come," he said.

Denver7 reached out to King Soopers and Safeway for comment, but neither has responded as of Tuesday afternoon.