America’s Largest Food and Retail Union Applauds New Hazard Pay Action by Los Angeles City Council and Trader Joe’s for Frontline Grocery Workers
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking, and other frontline industries, applauded a unanimous vote by the Los Angeles City Council to move forward with a new $5 per hour grocery hazard pay mandate. This is the latest in a new wave of local grocery hazard pay measures that prompted Trader Joe’s to provide increased hazard pay to all of its grocery workers nationwide, while the country’s largest grocery chain, Kroger, announced retaliatory store closures to avoid providing hazard pay to its frontline employees.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“Today’s unanimous vote by the Los Angeles City Council for grocery worker hazard pay sends another powerful message that the safety of grocery workers must come first. From Long Beach to Los Angeles, and all across this country, brave essential workers have been risking their lives to keep food on the table every day during this crisis, and these brave men and women have earned and deserve hazard pay.
“Today’s vote, which comes just 24 hours after Kroger attempted to threaten and intimidate elected leaders and discourage them from passing this essential hazard pay, proves that the demands of irresponsible companies do not trump worker or public safety. With Trader Joe’s announcing today it will provide new hazard pay to their workers nationwide, it’s clear that some companies are stepping up to do the right thing for these essential workers.
“As COVID cases skyrocket, and new variants of this virus continue to emerge, there has never been a more important time for our elected leaders to stand up for the men and women who are keeping food on the table for families across the country.
“It is now time that our city, state, and national leaders follow the lead of Los Angeles and pass a strong hazard pay mandate that recognizes the extraordinary risks these essential workers – union and non-union – are taking every day as they serve our communities during this ongoing and worsening pandemic.”
Today, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in favor of a new grocery hazard pay mandate. In response to such action by Los Angeles, Seattle, and other cities, Trader Joe’s announced today it would be providing at least $4 per hour in hazard pay to its grocery workers nationwide.
In contrast, the nation’s largest grocery chain, Kroger, announced on Monday it would be closing grocery stores in Long Beach in retaliation for the city mandating hazard pay for grocery workers as the health threat from the pandemic continues. Similarly, a major Seattle grocery chain is pressuring elected leaders to reverse a similar grocery hazard pay mandate recently passed there.
A Brookings Institution report highlights the growing momentum for grocery hazard pay, with more than 75 percent of Americans supporting hazard pay, and more and more cities and counties act to mandate the critical lifeline for these essential workers most at risk:
- Santa Monica, Calif: On January 12, the Santa Monica city council approved $5 per hour “hero pay” for grocery workers at large employers.
- Seattle: On January 25, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a similar mandate requiring certain large grocery and food retail businesses with at least 500 employees globally to pay $4 per hour hazard pay for grocery workers.
- Los Angeles County: On January 5, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to draft a mandate—also citing Brookings research—requiring large grocery and drugstore chains to provide workers a $5 per hour pay increase for at least 120 days.
- San Francisco: Earlier this month, San Francisco passed a nonbinding ordinance urging companies to pay hazard pay.
- San Jose, Berkeley, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Santa Clara, and San Mateo: Several other California cities are also considering mandates.
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 134 grocery worker deaths and 28,700 grocery workers infected or exposed nationwide. Across all the industries UFCW represents, the union has reported there have been at least 388 frontline worker deaths and over 75,800 frontline workers infected or exposed.
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.