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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Video of mask confrontation at Costco highlights need to protect retail workers

Union says at least 65 grocery workers have died from virus
Video of Costco mask confrontation highlights need to protect retail workers
Posted at 12:43 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 17:35:25-04

THORNTON, Colo. – A Costco employee is being celebrated for his response to a shopper who refused to wear a face mask while shopping at a Colorado store.

A video of the confrontation between the two men is circulating online. It begins with the shopper telling the worker that he’s recording him for his “3,000 follower Instagram feed.”

The worker, identified as Tison, then speaks directly to the man’s camera phone and says, “Hi everyone. I work for Costco and I’m asking this member to put on a mask, because that is our company policy.”

The shopper continues refusing to wear a mask.

“I’m not doing it because I woke up in a free country,” says the shopper.

Afterwards, the worker takes the cart from the customer, asks him to leave and tells him to “have a great day.”

KTRK reports that the incident happened at a store in Thornton on May 16. The video has since gone viral and Tison says he’s received many messages of support. He took to Twitter to express his gratitude.

“People of Twitter thank you for all of the support,” he wrote. “I was just trying to protect our employees and our members.”

The incident highlights the stark reality that many retail workers face as they attempt to enforce store rules and public health guidelines. At Costco, the chain has required members and guests to wear face coverings that cover the mouth and nose since May 4.

While stores are requiring customers to wear masks to help protect other patrons, the face coverings are also meant to protect workers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic, risking their lives.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, many grocery store workers have died of COVID-19. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) said last Friday that its estimates show at least 65 grocery workers have died as a result of the coronavirus and at least 9,810 have been infected or exposed to the deadly virus, potentially infecting others.

One of the most recent grocery worker deaths was in Denver, a few miles south from where the Costco confrontation happened. The UFCW says a man who worked at a King Soopers for more than 30 years died of COVID-19 and the store he worked at had 11 cases of the virus among employees.

UFCW is encouraging everyone to “shop smart” and take easy steps to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, especially at groceries.

“All we are asking is that shoppers take these easy safety steps – beginning with always wearing a mask – to help protect these essential grocery workers and make sure that grocery stores continue to be open and a safe place to shop for all of our families. Working together, we can do this, but only if all Americans realize the power that each of us has to fight this virus,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone.