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UFCW: Trader Joe’s Hazard Pay Cut for Grocery Workers Ignores Health Risk of COVID Exposure on Frontlines as Pandemic Continues

May 5, 2021

A person wears a bandana face covering outside of Trader Joe's

Union Reports 40,000 Grocery Workers Infected or Exposed to COVID Due to Ongoing Health Risks, Calls on Trader Joe’s to Stop Dangerous Cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million essential workers in grocery and other frontline industries, condemned the new Trader Joe’s cuts to hazard pay just announced. UFCW confirmed today that more than 40,000 grocery workers have been infected or exposed to COVID-19 and there have now been at least 179 grocery worker deaths as new cases continue to be confirmed daily.

With COVID-19 grocery outbreaks in CaliforniaTexasWashington, and other states, there have been over 23,000 grocery workers infected or exposed since January. In response, there has been a wave of city grocery hazard pay mandates enacted in Los AngelesSeattleSan Francisco, among more than 24 cities and counties. In April, grocery hazard pay momentum continued with new mandates in ConcordEdmondsRedwood CityOlympia, and Bellingham, among others recognizing health risks grocery workers continue to face on the frontlines of the pandemic.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s essential grocery workers continue to put their own health at risk every day on the frontlines to make sure families can put food on the table. Trader Joe’s cutting COVID hazard pay for these brave frontline grocery workers is inexcusable when these workers are continuing to get sick and die from this virus.

“When grocery chains refuse to provide workers with critical PPE, workers have to spend their own money to protect themselves and their customers. When grocery workers are exposed to COVID-19 multiple times and no longer have enough paid sick leave to safely quarantine, they feel forced to come to work sick to pay the bills. Hazard pay is not just about recognizing the health risks grocery workers face, it’s about making sure essential workers have the support they need to keep our grocery stores and our communities safe from future outbreaks. 

“Trader Joe’s must stop these cruel cuts to hazard pay for their frontline workers. Every grocery CEO needs to wake up to the reality that this pandemic is far from over and we cannot afford to abandon the essential workers keeping our food supply secure as this health crisis continues.”


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 recently confirmed that COVID-19 continues to threaten essential food workers nationwide. Since March 1, UFCW reports a nearly 30 percent increase in grocery worker deaths and a 24 percent increase in grocery workers infected or exposed following supermarket outbreaks at Whole FoodsCostcoTrader Joe’s and other chains across the country. According to new UFCW estimates, among the union’s members nationwide, there have already been at least:

  • 457 frontline worker deaths and at least 92,000 frontline workers infected or exposed
  • 179 grocery worker deaths and at least 40,300 grocery workers infected or exposed 
  • 132 meatpacking worker deaths and 22,280 meatpacking workers infected or exposed

Brookings Institution report highlights the ongoing 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.


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

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