The Stand

UFCW 367 to grocers: Improve safety, reinstate hazard pay

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The following is from UFCW Local 367:

TACOMA (Nov. 19, 2020) — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 367, the union for more than 8,000 food and retail workers in the South Sound, is taking action online and sharing their concerns with press on the new surge in COVID-19 cases across Washington state and the growing impact on grocery workers who are still on the frontlines of the pandemic.

UFCW Local 367 grocery workers are telling their stories about the risks they face on the frontlines as COVID-19 cases increase. Union leaders are calling for big chain grocers like Kroger (Fred Meyer and QFC stores) to strengthen safety measures in stores, enforce masks in stores, and reinstate hazard pay. Kroger cut hazard pay for its workers just two months into the pandemic, despite posting record sales and authorizing over $1 billion in stock buybacks this year.

Angel González, President of UFCW Local 367, and several South Sound grocery workers are speaking to the press and sharing their stories online expressing their concerns and call for grocers to take action. You can find their stories, community support and other actions at UFCW 367 Facebook page and read more members’ stories at UFCW367.org.

“We are fighting for Hazard Pay and safety for all essential grocery workers,” González said. “These grocery workers are vital to our communities and they deserve a safe workplace and fair pay for the risks and stress they experience daily due to COVID-19. The big chain grocers like Kroger have had record breaking profits during this pandemic, they need to invest in their employees and the safety in their stores.”

UFCW has been a leading voice in the push to protect frontline workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses. Just weeks after UFCW Local 367’s national partner launched a national hazard pay campaign, the union successfully secured a new agreement to provide retroactive hazard pay for 56,000 grocery workers.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris partnered with UFCW on a CNN op-ed calling for all grocery chains to restore hazard pay as these essential workers continue to put themselves in harm’s way as COVID-19 cases increase nationwide.

UFCW recently confirmed that frontline workers continue to be at risk as COVID-19 cases increase nationwide. Among the frontline workers represented by the union in Washington and across the country, there have already been at least 108 grocery worker deaths and nearly 16,300 grocery workers infected or exposed.

UFCW 367 has over 8,000 members in grocery and retail in Pierce, Mason, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Lewis Counties. UFCW Local 367 is part of UFCW International, the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org.

 


► TODAY from the NY Times — Virus cases rise, but hazard pay for retail workers doesn’t — They were hailed as heroes during the first wave of the pandemic, but wage increases were fleeting, and companies, whose businesses are booming, have been slow to pay out more. Amazon, which said last month that its quarterly profit had increased nearly 200 percent, ended its $2-an-hour pay raise for workers earlier this year, but a spokeswoman said no new hazard pay was planned. Walmart, which reported another big increase in quarterly sales on Tuesday, had paid a series of special cash bonuses, but the company has not raised wages broadly as a way to reward workers during the pandemic.

The grocery chain Kroger offered raises at the start of the pandemic and bonuses through mid-June, but those have ended. Employees nationwide have staged protests outside stores asking Kroger to reinstate the pay, especially given its booming business — sales are soaring, and it recently said its 2021 business results “will be higher than we would have expected prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.” This week, the company told workers that they would receive discounts at its fuel centers and a $100 store credit as a “holiday appreciation.”

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