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    UFCW Blog

    coronavirus employer updates

July 9, 2020

Hospital Workers in Washington Continue to Join Local 21

We’re excited to welcome to our union a new group of certified nursing assistants, housekeepers, kitchen workers, phlebotomists, pharmacy and radiation technicians, respiratory therapists, and sonographers at Providence Centralia Hospital in Centralia, Wash., who recently made the decision together to join UFCW Local 21 on June 29.

Members of UFCW Local 21 who are registered nurses at Providence Centralia Hospital reached out to their coworkers to provide encouragement.

“RNs have had a union at Centralia for over 30 years,” said Diane Stedham-Jewell. “It has helped us fight for better wages, job security, and better care. It’s great to have someone who can fight for you. Sometimes people are afraid of fighting for more because they are grateful for what they have, but I don’t like to see big companies take advantage of folks. Everyone deserves to be represented, have rights, and fair living wages!”

“They say a happy worker is a productive worker, but when big business gets too big, the little people get forgotten,” said Gary Mersereau. “In fact, the wheel of Providence’s business turns on our ability to do our jobs effectively and without fear. I keep that wheel turning for the patients and community I care for, and with the union at my side we’re not little at all—we are the spine of the system that keeps people healthy and safe. Together we stand!”

“I feel it is vital for us to have a union,” said Brooke Adams, a surgical technologist. “It allows us workers to finally have a voice. We will be able to negotiate fair benefits, wage increases, and labor practices. The union will give us the ability to feel secure in our positions and protect us in the event of an unfair layoff or firing. We’ll have a representative in our corner at all times.”

 

June 17, 2020

While some employers roll back “hero pay,” new UFCW agreement with Cargill makes it permanent

In an in industry-shifting win for meatpacking workers, over 7,000 Cargill workers who are members of UFCW Locals 2, 293 and 540 recently ratified strong, new contracts that include better wages and benefits. The workers are employed at Cargill plants in Dodge City, Kan.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Schuyler, Neb.

The UFCW negotiated a $2 per hour temporary raise for Cargill workers from March 23 to May 5 as part of our effort to increase pay and other benefits for frontline workers during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, and the new contract makes the $2/hour increase permanent through the rest of the 5-year agreement. In addition to the permanent $2 per hour raise, the workers will also receive a $6 per hour temporary raise in response to the ongoing health crisis through August 31, 2020, and short term disability benefits will be significantly strengthened.

The agreement with Cargill stands in a sharp contrast to how employers such as Kroger, who recently ended their so called “hero pay” despite the objections of the UFCW and concerned shoppers, have handled hazard pay and benefits for their employees.

The UFCW has been pushing for better standards for food workers since the beginning of this crisis. With Cargill as the third largest meat producer in the United States, the UFCW hopes the victory will help pave the way for raising standards in the entire industry.

“The $2 permanent wage increase and enhanced benefits represent a significant breakthrough for our members at Cargill,” said International Vice President and Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing Division Director Mark Lauritsen. “Our union will push other meatpacking and food processing employers to follow Cargill’s lead with the goal of raising standards for all workers in this industry.”

Work in these plants is never easy, and at a time of so much turmoil, it is welcome to have a bit of good news that the hard work and sacrifice of these men and women will be recognized. There is no price on someone’s safety, but these increases help define essential workers as valued and important to our communities rather than disposable, and we hope that more employers, in not only meat packing but in all essential industries, will recognize this and follow suit.

May 22, 2020

UFCW Calls on Top Supermarket Companies to Reinstate Hazard Pay

On May 20, the UFCW hosted a national press call with leading reporters from across the country to address the fact that many of America’s largest supermarket and food retail companies – including Kroger, Walmart and Amazon – have recently ended so-called “hazard or hero pay” even as the pandemic continues across the country.

During the call, UFCW International President Marc Perrone called on these companies to immediately reinstate this essential pay until the need to wear masks and other protective measures are no longer necessary.

As a measure of the real and growing risk of the public health crisis facing grocery workers, the UFCW also released new internal numbers that show at least 68 grocery workers have died and more than 10,000 have been infected by or exposed to the new coronavirus. During the call, the UFCW called on every leading food retailer to release the number of their food retail and supermarket workers who have died or become sick and/or exposed to COVID-19.

“As this pandemic continues, the threat of this virus is real across every grocery store in America,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “Yet, most states and supermarket chains are still failing to enforce social distancing or mask wearing in stores to keep customers and workers safe. Even worse, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Kroger have failed to release internal numbers on worker deaths, infections, and exposure. Amazon even fired workers brave enough to speak out.”

“Amazon, Whole Foods, Kroger and other companies have shamefully announced pay cuts for millions of these workers on the frontlines, even as each company experiences record sales,” added Perrone. “When workers face higher risks, they should be paid more. These workers are not facing fewer hazards and are still putting themselves in harm’s way, interacting with thousands of customers a day to help ensure our families have the food we need. While we hope some of these companies do change and follow the lead of other national companies like Albertsons and Ahold who acted responsibly to extend this hazard pay, we are preparing options to ensure that every American knows which supermarket companies stood by their workers and their families and which did not. American consumers and workers deserve better and we will continue to stand with them.”

As part of the call, Kroger grocery workers from across the country spoke about the serious risks they face, and how Kroger eliminating its ‘hero pay’ has had a damaging effect on them and their coworkers.

“Five people in my household work for Kroger and together, we put in about 250 hours per week,” said a Ralphs (Kroger banner) grocery worker in San Diego, Calif. “When Kroger gave us ‘hero pay,’ it felt like we mattered and they were recognizing the risks we are taking. Every day, you fear that you might catch the virus at work. You fear that you might take the virus home to your family. I’ve had customers swear at me when we ask them to wear a mask. One customer even told me I might be dead in a month. After work each day, I want to cry, but I don’t have the tears to cry because it’s not going to make things better. We are working longer hours under stressful conditions. At my store, they take daily temperature scans, but the thermometers the company provides us don’t work. Kroger and all grocery companies need to provide the protective equipment, testing, and essential pay that all of us need so that we can keep our stores operating safely. Our lives are on the line.”

“There is a lot of fear in my store because of the virus,” said a Kroger meat department worker in Lansing, Mich. “Every day, we prepare like we’re going into battle with the virus. We are exposed to thousands of people every day for hours and the reality is it only takes one person to expose an entire store. Kroger ended our ‘hero pay,’ but the crisis is not over. I face each day with anxiety and it gets worse when I see customers refuse to wear masks. I am a mother and my children need me to stay healthy.”

You can access the full video recording of the press conference here.

 

UFCW & COVID-19

April 1, 2020

UFCW and Kroger announce pay and benefit increase

UFCW and the Kroger Co. announced a new increase to the pay and benefits for the company’s more than 460,000 workers across the country.

Kroger and UFCW have been working closely to ensure that these grocery workers are able to continue to provide the necessary food and supplies to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Kroger and UFCW announced the following increases to pay, benefits, and protections for frontline associates across the country:

  • $2 Per Hour Pay Increase which will be paid to hourly frontline associates in retail stores, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, central fills, pharmacies and contact call centers for the next three weeks at which point UFCW and Kroger will revisit discussions.
  • Providing Emergency Paid Leave: This ensures that any associates who are affected by COVID-19 – whether experiencing symptoms and self-isolating, diagnosed or placed in quarantine – can recover with the financial support they need.
  • Additional Cleaning and Sanitizing protocols which include allowing associates to wash their hands and sanitize their registers every 30 minutes.
  • Shortened Store Operating Hours to provide ample time to allow restocking, cleaning, and to provide appropriate rest and relief for associates.
  • Installing plexiglass partitions at check lanes, pharmacy and Starbucks registers across each store.
  • Adding floor decals to promote physical distancing at check lanes and other counters.
  • Earlier Access to Pay: Beginning next week, the Kroger Family of Companies is adding ExpressPay – a new benefit that allows most hourly associates to access some of their pay faster, putting money in their pockets sooner than usual.
  • Financial Assistance for Childcare and Other Needs: Kroger will make $5 million available for those facing hardship, including lack of access to childcare and for those considered high-risk, due to COVID-19 through the Kroger Family of Companies Helping Hands fund.
  • Employee Hotline: Kroger will offer an associate hotline to answer benefit questions quickly.
  • Expanded Health Care Services: Kroger will provide access to mental health services and other benefits to support associates’ mental and physical well-being during this stressful time.

“Today’s increase in pay and benefits is an important first step in our ongoing effort to keep customers and workers safe,” said UFCW International president Marc Perrone. “We will continue to listen to our members and will work with Kroger – and all responsible employers – to provide these incredible members and workers the support and protections they need to be able to do a job that is more essential than ever before.”

This agreement applies to all Kroger banners including Ralphs, King Soopers, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Dillons, and more.

Learn more about what the UFCW is doing to protect workers during COVID-19

March 30, 2020

Amazon, Instacart grocery delivery workers strike for coronavirus protection and pay

Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, N.Y., and Instacart’s grocery delivery workers nationwide plan to walk off their jobs on Monday. They are demanding stepped-up protection and pay. Instacart workers in Chicago made history in February by voting to join UFCW.

March 24, 2020

Cargill workers to receive $2/hour emergency pay increase during COVID-19

After talks with the UFCW, Cargill has agreed to give employees at their meatpacking facilities a $2/hour emergency pay increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the raise in pay, the union and the company are working out ways to better practice social distancing within the packing plants, where under normal conditions workers work in close proximity to each other. Increased sanitation and screening at the plants will also be going into effect, and virtual health visits will be expanded for those seeking care in the health clinics so that they do not have to visit the health clinics in person to receive treatment where possible.

Keeping our meatpacking and food processing plants running is a matter of national security to ensure that everyone has enough to eat during this difficult period. The UFCW is actively negotiating with other companies in the meatpacking and food processing industries to ensure workers are protected and our food chain remains secure during this crisis.


We’re calling on ALL food employers to step up and compensate our front line workers.

Add your name here.

March 24, 2020

Updated coronavirus policies from SaveMart, Meijer, Schnucks, Dierbergs Markets, and Straub’s Markets

Union grocery workers continue to get the extra pay and health benefits they’ve earned during COVID-19. Here’s the latest from our grocery negotiations:

SaveMart Supermarkets

  • All grocery workers will start receiving an extra $2.50 per hour, retroactive to March 8, for all hours worked up to 40 hours per week.
  • Anyone working beyond 40 hours per week will earn an extra $3.50 per hour for all hours worked over 40 hours per week.

Meijer

  • All hourly team members in stores, pharmacy, supply chain, and manufacturing will be receiving a bonus of $2 per hour for hours worked paid on a weekly basis from March 22 – May 2.

Schnucks, Dierbergs Markets, and Straub’s Markets

  • All co-pays for coronavirus testing will be waived.
  • The companies will also maintain pay for their workers who become sick and expand access to telemedicine with zero out-of-pocket costs.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone appeared on MSNBC earlier today to talk about the importance of protecting grocery workers.


Some companies have already agreed to do the right thing and provide paid leave, emergency pay, and protective shields for all cashiers, but many are still holding out.

Take action now: tell your favorite grocery stores & brands to protect ALL food workers!

March 24, 2020

Danone, Pepsi, and Kraft agree to additional protections for workers during outbreak

Three more companies, Danone, Pepsi, and Kraft, have agreed to extend additional protections to their employees who are working during the coronavirus outbreak. The UFCW hopes more companies will follow the example and make the necessary changes to protect the workforce that powers America’s food chain.

See the agreements from these three companies below:

Kraft

  • Workers who miss work because of COVID-19 will receive short term disability pay with waived waiting times.
  • Workers who live in a school district that has shut down will be paid 100 dollars extra per week to help offset the cost of childcare.
  • Any co-pays on healthcare related to the virus will be waived.

Danone

  • Hourly workers will receive a premium payment equivalent to 15% of their base hourly rate for all hours worked.
  • If a worker contracts coronavirus or must stay isolated at home because they have been in close contact with someone with the virus, they are eligible for up to 80 hours of paid quarantine leave.
  • Workers who have childcare needs are eligible to utilize any state, city or provincial paid sick leave where applicable.

Pepsi

  • Workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19, showing symptoms, or caring for a family member in their household who has been diagnosed or showing symptoms will receive 100% of their pay for up to 14-days.
  • Workers who work at a facility that must be closed will receive 100% pay for up to 12 weeks.
  • Workers who are impacted by school or daycare center closure with no one home to look after a child will receive a minimum of two-thirds of their pay for up to 12 weeks if they are not able to work from home.
  • Workers are also eligible for free COVID-19 testing, a “Crisis Care” reimbursement of $100 a day for child care, and access to specially trained mental health professionals.

For updates related to COVID-19, please visit www.ufcw.org/coronavirus. 

If you are a worker experiencing an issue at your workplace related to COVID-19, please report it to us online.

March 22, 2020

Rite Aid employees to receive emergency pay increase

Rite Aid announced they have agreed to give their workers an emergency pay increase of $2 an hour and will also raise their employee discount from 20% to 35% so they can shop for essentials.

Everyday companies across the nation are proving they can afford pay increases. Add your name and demand emergency pay increases for all essential workers here.

Sign the Petition

March 21, 2020

Stop & Shop workers to receive ten percent pay raise, additional paid sick leave during coronavirus pandemic

 After talks between the union and the company concerning the safety and well-being of the men and women who are tirelessly working to keep grocery shelves stocked and doors open during the coronavirus outbreak, Stop & Shop announced they will be giving all union Stop & Shop and Peapod employees represented by the UFCW a ten percent increase in pay during this crisis. Workers will also receive two additional weeks of paid leave if they become sick.

“Every supermarket, grocery store, and food retail employer – union and non-union – in the Northeast and across America must follow the example that Stop & Shop has set and follow their lead,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone.

UFCW International and UFCW Locals have been negotiating with employers across the country to recognize how hard grocery workers are working to provide necessary food and supplies to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

UFCW and Safeway announced that Safeway would provide a two-dollar-per-hour increase in pay for its grocery workers across the country during the outbreak.

In California, UFCW Locals applauded Stater Bros. Markets for implementing a $2.00-per-hour pay raise to its workers. The raise will apply to all hourly employees over the course of four weeks beginning March 23.

In Missouri, UFCW Local Union 655 secured a deal for grocery workers at Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Straubs to waive all co-pays for coronavirus testing, maintain pay for those who become sick, and expand access to telemedicine with zero out-of-pocket costs.

For updates related to COVID-19, please visit www.ufcw.org/coronavirus. 

If you are a worker experiencing an issue at your workplace related to COVID-19, please report it to us online.