Kristen Flanagan: Deli Manager & Frontline Hero

Meet Kristen Flanagan, a Deli Manager at the Somerville Stop & Shop and member of UFCW 1445. Kristen shares her story from the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. 

This story is the first in the Greater Boston Labor Council's #FrontlineHeroes series, lifting up the work of union members and everyday heroes who are working on the frontlines during the global pandemic. Please share.

Kristen Flanagan didn't plan to be on the frontlines. A ten year deli manager at the Somerville, MA Stop & Shop, Kristen has always enjoyed serving customers and doing her work. But today she is one of the essential workers in the global Covid-19 pandemic, a fact that worries her. "Everyone everywhere is stressed and worried, but it's different for grocery workers. We signed up to take care of customers, help people and serve food with a smile. We're trying to do that now but we're stressed about our safety and worried about getting our families sick. We didn't sign up to be on the frontlines."

Kristen has long admired first responders and other crisis workers and says her admiration is now even more profound. "I understand what it feels like and some of the worry that they deal with on an ongoing basis." From the moment the pandemic hit, Kristen has been working long shifts as panicked shoppers clear shelves and weave lines through her store. While many in the Boston area are working from home or dealing with sudden unemployment, grocery workers have found themselves in the middle of the crisis with more work than can be done. 

Kristen is a member of UFCW 1445 and she is grateful that the union is fighting for protective gear, leave and hazard pay. At her store she reports that there is a genuine feeling that employees are cared for - not just with shields and masks - "they've looked out for us as far as making sure we're ok mentally and emotionally too. It's nice to know you have that. We're trying to hold each other up."

As Kristen bravely reports to the frontlines, she wants you to hear this message: "We're happy to still help our customers, but there are a ton of people working at Stop and Shop that are worried and many have people at home who are immunocompromised - my husband being one of them. Think of other people's families when you go out. Wash your hands, sanitize, give us 6 feet or more of space. If you don't absolutely need anything, please don't shop."