June 19, 2020
Explosion of COVID-19 Cases Nationwide Makes Clear America’s Food Retailers Must Reinstate Hazard Pay
America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Top Companies Like Kroger for Action As Health Threat to Grocery Workers Continues
WASHINGTON, DC – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores and other essential businesses, called on America’s largest supermarket chains, like Kroger, to immediately reinstate hazard pay in light of an explosion of COVID-19 cases nationwide with 10 states reporting their highest average of daily new cases since the pandemic started.
The failure to reinstate “hazard pay,” or what Kroger called “Hero Pay,” not only ignores the continuing health and safety threat faced by America’s 3 million grocery workers, but ignores the reality that grocery workers contributed to record sales supermarket companies are experiencing, including Kroger, which just announced total sales reached $41 billion in the latest quarter, a 19 percent increase from one year ago.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“Across the country, America’s food retailers have ended hazard pay even as COVID-19 health risks have increased for grocery workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Even worse, multi-billion-dollar companies like Kroger are raking in record sales just weeks after cutting hazard pay for the very grocery workers who made that success possible.
“The decision by these companies to end COVID-19 hazard pay, despite the ongoing danger, ignores the simple fact that these essential workers are still on the frontlines of a growing pandemic. As the nation’s largest grocery chain, Kroger should be a leader in the industry instead of ignoring the serious health and economic effects faced by these brave workers.
“As long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, every grocery worker in America must receive the hazard pay they have earned for the vital work they are doing to serve our communities as the danger continues. Moreover, every company that is seeing record profits and sales should realize that these brave workers are literally putting their lives on the line to help feed this nation – and they deserve better than a pay cut from companies like Kroger.”
In a recent national press conference, Kroger workers represented by UFCW spoke out about the company’s decision to cut the hazard pay they had received for working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In May 2020, the UFCW sent a letter to top grocery CEOs across the country condemning them for suggesting that the health risks of this pandemic have diminished, and failing to provide the pay and protections necessary given the risks that America’s grocery workers face.
The UFCW is 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.