Grocery workers ‘not facing fewer hazards,' UFCW says

Call to extend hourly bonus pay comes as retailers enhance support


Russell Redman, Supermarket News

May 20, 2020


The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union said today that at least 68 of its grocery worker members have died from coronavirus and over 10,000 have been infected or exposed to COVID-19.


The updated figures represent double the total of infections and deaths from five weeks ago, according to UFCW. With the virus taking a rising toll on grocery store associates, UFCW International President Marc Perrone on Wednesday called for food retailers to extend hourly hazard pay — also known as “appreciation” or “hero” pay — for frontline workers and for government and retailers to better police safety practices in stores, including the possible use of security guards.


“Amazon, Whole Foods, Kroger and other companies have shamefully announced pay cuts for millions of these workers on the front lines, even as each company experiences record sales. When workers face higher risks, they should be paid more. These workers are not facing fewer hazards and are still putting themselves in harm’s way, interacting with thousands of customers a day, to help ensure our families have the food we need,” Perrone said in remarks for a national press call today.


Until the need to wear masks and other protective equipment is no longer necessary, grocery retailers should reinstate hazard pay that has lapsed or extend it if nearing expiration, according to Perrone (left). He said leading retailers such as Walmart, Amazon/Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Kroger have not released internal numbers on worker infections, exposure and deaths.


“While we hope some of these companies do change, and follow the lead of other national companies like Albertsons and Ahold [Delhaize USA] who acted responsibly to extend this hazard pay, we are preparing options to ensure that every American knows which supermarket companies stood by their workers and their families and which did not,” he said. “American consumers and workers deserve better, and we will continue to stand with them.”


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