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May 15, 2020

Top Supermarket Chains Condemned for Ending COVID-19 Emergency Pay Even As Grocery Worker Deaths Increase

In Letter to 49 Supermarket CEOs, America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Urges Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods, and others to Immediately Extend COVID-19 so-called Hazard Pay For Frontline Grocery Workers  

Group Also Releases New Estimate: At Least 65 Grocery Workers Have Died, and 9,810 Have Been Infected or Exposed in COVID-19 Pandemic 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, sent a letter to 49 CEOs of top U.S. supermarket chains including Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods and many others condemning them for a failure to extend emergency pay and protections for grocery workers who are working on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.  

In the letter, UFCW International President Marc Perrone urged them to reverse the decision to end so-called hazard pay for their employees, and to publicly recognize that the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to cost lives all across the country. In fact, new internal UFCW estimates show that at least 65 grocery workers have died, and at least 9,810 have been infected or exposed to the deadly virus.  

In the letter, UFCW called for these CEOs, most of whom continue to work from home even as their workers face dangerous conditions, to do what is right and immediately extend hazard pay until the risk of the virus has abated.  

Today’s letter was sent directly to the CEOs of top supermarket chains across the country, including John Furner (Walmart Supercenters), Dan Bane (Trader Joe’s), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Craig Jelinek (Costco), Kathryn McLay (Sam’s Club), Todd Jones (Publix), and many others. Excerpts of the letter are included below: 

“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.”


Background: 

As of today, the UFCW estimates that at least 65 grocery workers have died and 9,810 workers have become sick or exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Please click here to read the full text of the UFCW letter, which was sent to the the CEOs of the following supermarket companies: 

  1. Walmart Supercenters – Bentonville, AR
  2. Costco Wholesale Corp. – Issaquah, WA
  3. Publix Super Markets Inc. – Lakeland, FL
  4. Sam’s Club – Bentonville, AR
  5. H-E-B – San Antonio, TX
  6. Whole Foods Market Inc. – Austin, TX
  7. Aldi Inc. – Batavia, IL
  8. Southeastern Grocers – Jacksonville, FL
  9. Wegmans Food Markets Inc. – Rochester, NY
  10. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. – Westborough, MA
  11. Hy-Vee Inc. – West Des Moines, IA
  12. WinCo Foods LLC – Boise, ID
  13. Save-A-Lot – Earth City, MO
  14. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. – Jacksonville, FL
  15. Sprouts Farmers Markets – Phoenix, AZ
  16. DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc. – Tewksbury, MA
  17. Smart & Final Stores LLC – Commerce, CA
  18. Ingles Markets Inc. – Black Mountain, NC
  19. Golub Corporation – Schenectady, NY
  20. IGA Inc. – Chicago, IL
  21. Lidl US LLC – Arlington, VA
  22. K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. – Abingdon, VA
  23. Brookshire Grocery Co. – Tyler, TX
  24. Grocery Outlet Inc. – Emeryville, CA
  25. Big Y Foods Inc. – Springfield, MA
  26. Gordon Food Service Store – Wyoming, MI
  27. The Fresh Market Inc. – Greensboro, NC
  28. Bashas’ Inc. – Chandler, AZ
  29. Cardenas Markets LLC – Ontario, CA
  30. Fareway Stores Inc. – Boone, IA
  31. Woodman’s Food Markets Inc. – Janesville, WI
  32. Rouses Enterprises LLC – Thibodaux, LA
  33. Marc Glassman Inc. – Cleveland, OH
  34. Lowes Pay and Save Inc. – Littlefield, TX
  35. Redner’s Markets Inc. – Reading, PA
  36. Brookshire Brothers Ltd. – Lufkin, TX
  37. Four B Corp. – Kansas City, KS
  38. Associated Food Stores – Salt Lake City, UT
  39. Niemann Foods Inc. – Quincy, IL
  40. Cosentino’s Food Stores – Prairie Village, KS
  41. All American Quality Food Inc. – Stockbridge, GA
  42. Food Giant Supermarkets Inc. – Sikeston, MO
  43. Harmon City Inc. – West Valley City, UT
  44. Sedano’s Supermarkets Inc. – Hialeah, FL
  45. Stew Leonard’s – Norwalk, CT
  46. Fresh Encounter Inc. – Findlay, OH
  47. B & R Stores Inc. – Lincoln, NE
  48. ABC Stores Hawaii – Honolulu, HI
  49. Aurora Grocery Group – Charlotte, NC 

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 The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.