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UFCW: Kroger Threatens Seattle Food Supply with Store Closures Retaliating Against Initiatives to Protect Community & Ensure Grocery Workers Have Hazard Pay for COVID Risks

February 16, 2021 Updated: February 17, 2021

America’s Largest Food and Retail Union Condemns Kroger Decision to Close Grocery Stores After Seattle Mandates Hazard Pay

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million essential frontline workers in grocery, meatpacking, and other critical industries, condemned Kroger’s new action to close grocery stores in Seattle, a move that represents not only a threat to the food supply for Seattle residents, but is an appalling attempt to threaten improved store safety and hazard pay for essential workers.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Kroger has literally made billions in pandemic profits off the sacrifices of grocery workers in Seattle and across the country. Kroger’s action today not only threatens these workers, but it also threatens the local food supply. Instead of doing what is right, protecting the community and providing the hazard pay for these essential grocery workers, Kroger is once again trying to intimidate local and national elected leaders. It will not work. 

“Threatening frontline workers with ruthless job cuts and endangering the community’s access to food in the middle of a public health crisis is inexcusable and will only serve to strengthen this movement to provide hazard pay for frontline workers. 

“Regardless of the city or state, America’s grocery workers have earned and deserve hazard pay as they face the daily risk of COVID exposure on the frontlines. With companies like Kroger refusing to provide proper safety equipment like N95 masks, grocery workers are being forced to use their own money to pay for PPE, making hazard pay more important than ever for these workers who are already sacrificing so much. Kroger’s actions are even more appalling given that major grocery chains like Trader Joe’s are doing the right thing by expanding hazard pay for all their employees. Kroger is not above the law and has a responsibility to abide by common-sense COVID protections for grocery workers, measures that cities are enacting as the risks continue for these frontline workers during this escalating health crisis. 

“As America’s largest food and retail union, we will use every tool available to stop Kroger’s war on essential workers, including doing all we can to ensure that our local, state and federal leaders hold companies like Kroger accountable for flagrantly choosing to ignore their responsibility to protect our community and follow these critical health, safety and wage laws.”

BACKGROUND:

Kroger’s new Seattle store closures come just two weeks after Kroger announced similar store closures in Southern California, part of the company’s escalating retaliation campaign against a new wave of grocery hazard pay mandates in a growing number of cities. A recent Brookings Institution report highlights the new momentum for grocery hazard pay, with more than 75 percent of Americans supporting hazard pay, and more and more localities mandating the critical lifeline for these essential workers most at risk.

UFCW has been a leading national voice for frontline workers and has already helped secure new hazard pay deals for over 120,000 grocery workers across the country. 

COVID NUMBERS: UFCW has been a leading national voice for frontline food workers during the pandemic and recently highlighted the impact on the union’s essential workers, confirming there have been at least 137 grocery worker deaths and over 30,100 grocery workers infected or exposed nationwide. Across all the industries UFCW represents, the union has reported there have been at least nearly 400 frontline worker deaths and 77,600 frontline workers infected or exposed

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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