PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- You've most likely seen pictures and videos of empty store shelves, and probably experienced it yourself!

Grocery store employees have been working nonstop since the pandemic started, and now Governor Doug Ducey is activating the National Guard to help keep stores stocked.

For the first time, Phoenix-area grocery store employees spoke out to Arizona’s Family about this past week. “I really don’t get tired, but I’m tired from working so much,” said Leevon Motes, who works at a Safeway in Tempe.

Motes got off work at  2 p.m. on Wednesday. On Friday, he's going in at 3 a.m. “We’re doing everything we can," said Motes. "Fifteen-hour days just trying to help people."

Essential businesses like grocery stores and those in health care are staying open and are now hiring to help with the extra workload and to fill in the gaps for those who are sick, staying home with children or are quarantined.

Despite the extra work, Motes says their stock is just flying off the shelves. “I don’t think you can get toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizer,” he said.

And Bill Pollock from north Phoenix is seeing the other side of that for the same company. “Right now, we’re scheduled six days a week," he said. "Fourteen to 16 hours a day is what we’re doing right now as drivers." Pollock drives for Safeway and Albertsons, and was on his way to Tucson Thursday from New Mexico.

“We’ve gone from probably putting out about 160,000 cases a day to about 350,000 cases a day,” Pollock said. “As fast as we take it in, the customers come in and take it right back out. So, it’s just a vicious cycle.”

Pollock said even once things die down, he expects around six more months of rigorous schedules for drivers to get stores all properly re-stocked.

And even through the long hours, and chaotic lines, they're still just happy to serve the public. “As a company, as a whole, we’re doing everything we can do to keep our customers satisfied,” Motes said.

 

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