ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has issued a call for a $15 minimum hourly wage for frontline workers in the food-retailing, food-processing, meatpacking and health-care industries in light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the United States. The union also wants grocers to restore any pandemic “hazard pay” programs that were recently discontinued.
As reported in GroceryDive.com, the UFCW also wants to see the creation of a national, public registry to record COVID-19 cases of frontline workers, plus mandates for companies with 1,000-plus employees to provide monthly data on worker deaths, infections and exposure to the disease.
In addition, the UFCW wants all state and local officials to require the wearing of face coverings in public places, and to compel employers to enforce those mandates. The UFCW is concerned over the lack of uniform safety standards to protect workers from the disease and is unhappy that even when people are required to wear face masks, they often fail to comply.
“If our national airlines can ... do this, there is no excuse why retailers like Kroger and Walmart can’t do the same, especially [given] the fact that we have more workers being exposed in these stores than we do on those planes,” said Marc Perrone, president of the UFCW, during a virtual meeting with reporters. “America’s food, retail, meatpacking and health-care workers should not be the ones that have to do the enforcement. It should be the companies and the government.”
The union wants grocers to pay workers more amid reports of rising COVID-19 cases in the supermarket industry and in the overall population. The UFCW reports that at least 82 grocery workers have died from COVID-19, and more than 11,000 supermarket industry employees have been infected by or exposed to the virus. Across all the industries where UFCW represents frontline employees, 238 workers have died and almost 29,000 have been exposed to or contracted the coronavirus, the union said.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.