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Safeway has come to an agreement with its Yakima bargaining group that will allow it to bring on more staff in Central Washington because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stores statewide are also setting aside store hours for community members at high-risk to the new coronavirus.

The Safeway-Albertsons Seattle Division on Monday announced 400 immediate openings throughout Central Washington stores, including positions available at deli, meat, bakery, produce and fuel stations, as well as customer service departments. The corporation also needs cashiers and courtesy clerks, a news release said.

On Tuesday, United Food & Commercial Worker Union Local 1439, which represents Yakima workers including those in grocery stores, and three other bargaining units statewide reached an agreement with Safeway that would “better support and protect grocery store workers and shoppers in this time of need due to the Coronavirus,” the unions said in a statement.

The agreement would allow employers to temporarily bring in extra outside help during the crisis after existing employees were offered first dibs at hours and overtime, it said.

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Source: Yakima Health District, Yakima Herald-Republic reporting

It also approved coordination with the state and federal government to set up a child care fund for workers, allows schedule flexibility to accommodate child care needs and grants up to two weeks paid leave on top of existing paid leave for employees diagnosed with the respiratory virus or who are required to stay home in self-quarantine.

Special hours

Also announced Tuesday, Safeway is implementing special store hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 a.m. for “at risk shoppers” including senior citizens and individuals who are pregnant, immunocompromised or have been advised to stay home, the company announced. It asked that community members respect the devoted hours.

Those interested in working for Safeway can apply online at www.careersatsafeway.com, at https://www.albertsonscompanies.com/careers/albertsons-careers.html, or ask for a store director at a local Safeway.

Fred Meyer also announced immediate openings Monday at retail stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers. Candidates may apply via jobs.fredmeyer.com and could be placed for employment within several days of applying, according to a company news release.

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Reach Janelle Retka at jretka@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @janelleretka