Features, Finance, Health and Safety, New York, Retail

Supermarket Heroes Deserve Hazard Pay

May 19, 2020

By Neal Tepel

New York, NY – Supermarket workers throughout the country are still losing their lives and deserve to be paid a higher rate during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Those working in grocery and drug stores as well as meatpacking plants are true heroes. During the pandemic, more then 65  employees in the food industry have died, and 9,810 have been infected or exposed to infection. 

Although the coronavirus health crisis is continuing, supermarket chains are discontinuing to pay their employees additional compensation. The United Food and Commercial Workers international union has written to the key 49 supermarket CEOs, urging them to continue compensating their employees  at a higher rate during the COVID-19 crisis. The large food chains as Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods, are planning to discontinue emergency pay and protections for these front line grocery personnel.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone’s letter to the CEO’s in the supermarket industry asks for a continuation of  hazard pay for their employees:

“Millions of American grocery workers have been rightfully called essential by our nation’s elected leaders. Given the daily risks faced, these workers deserve critical protections, benefits, and a higher wage for as long as this public health crisis endures. That your companies are even considering cutting the pay of these frontline workers, while you experience record sales, is shocking in its indifference.

“Workers are still dying, including many of your own frontline employees. Every one of your grocery workers are still being asked to risk exposure to this virus and work in dangerous conditions that require them to wear protective equipment on the job. You are suggesting that frontline workers should work for less because the threat has diminished even as you and your entire executive teams continue to work from home.

“If you truly believe that the threat of COVID-19 has passed for your workers, then you should be willing to admit this publicly. Until that day comes, you have a responsibility to provide your workers with essential protections and benefits, including so-called hero/appreciation/hazard pay, until this terrible threat has passed.

“For the sake of these workers, our families, and our nation’s food supply, we ask you to remember your responsibility to ensure that these workers are receiving the premium pay that they have rightfully earned by facing the very risks that so many Americans—including all of you—have been lucky enough to avoid.”

The dedicated front line  workers in the food industry need to be publicaly recognized for putting their lives in danger.  They continue to work during the COVID-19 epidemic inspite of the health risks posed by this pandemic. The hazard pay for these employees need to continue as long as the risk of the virus is not abated.

*** The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union is America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members.

May 19, 2020

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