Leading up to Labor Day, workers at a number of large chain grocery stores participated in walkouts and demonstrations calling for the reinstatement of hazard pay. From a Kroger store in Richmond, Va., to a Food 4 Less in Anaheim, Calif., and a nonunion Whole Foods Market in Portland, Ore., workers are fighting for better compensation as the pandemic wears on.
Many of the grassroots efforts were part of a new national campaign from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which seeks to restore hazard pay for millions of America’s front-line workers. The campaign calls on the country’s leading grocery companies, including Whole Foods Market, Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Ahold and others, to reinstate hazard pay in light of the continued health threat that COVID-19 presents to essential workers.
“With this initial national week of action, we are sending a clear message to the CEOs of our nation’s largest grocery store chains that workers and customers are standing together for the hazard pay that America’s essential workers have earned and deserve,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement.
As part of the initial phase of the UFCW’s campaign, some 26 worker actions were held at grocery stores, including Food 4 Less, Kroger, Giant, Fred Meyer and Safeway; U.S. Senate offices; pharmacies; and other essential business in California, Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Tennessee, Maryland, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and other states hit hard by COVID-19.
The campaign includes grassroots actions, as well as targeted paid and digital media, to highlight the serious health threats these workers continue to face.
“Essential workers, like America’s grocery workers, require essential pay and protections. A strong national agenda to protect our country’s grocery workers must include essential hazard pay for as long as this pandemic continues,” added Perrone.
The UFCW recently confirmed the deaths of at least 103 grocery worker deaths and more than 14,300 grocery workers infected or exposed to COVID-19, but other reports suggest those numbers may be higher.