The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has long known how essential their members were to the economy and the country. They represent workers from grocery and retail stores to meat packing plants and cannabis dispensaries.
It seems, however, that the employers running these companies are just now waking up to how integral their employees are to maintaining day-to-day life in this country. The result of that awakening? An increase in benefits, pay, protections and sick leave that the union has been working hard to secure for these workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.
Government too, is learning to appreciate these workers:
Minnesota recognized the critical work being done by grocery workers in their state and designated grocery workers as first responders during the Covid-19 outbreak, similar to health care workers. As a result, UFCW members working in grocery stores in these states will now have access to free childcare.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to expand the capacity for childcare services for health care workers, first responders, and other members of the essential workforce during the coronavirus crisis. This expands the essential workforce to include grocery workers who are helping to provide needed supplies and goods during the outbreak.
Vermont is developing a plan to reimburse private childcare centers for providing care to essential workers, including grocery store workers who are now considered essential employees during the outbreak.
UFCW's website and Facebook pages detail other gains for their members:
Grocer Stop & Shop gave over 70,000 Stop & Shop and Peapod employees across New England, New York and New Jersey, a 10% increase in pay during the coronavirus outbreak. Workers will also receive two additional weeks of paid leave if they become sick.
Safeway announced that they would provide a $2.00/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/hour pay raise to its workers. The raise will apply to all hourly employees over the course of four weeks beginning March 23. Workers also have dedicated time when they can wash their hands and new flexible scheduling to help cover childcare needs.
In Missouri, UFCW Local Union 655 secured a deal for grocery workers at Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Straubs to waive all copays for coronavirus testing, maintain pay for those who become sick, and expand access to telemedicine with zero out-of-pocket costs.
Pepsi Co. is offering 12 week childcare support for employees whose children can no longer attend school. Workers who get sick, show symptoms, or who need to care for someone sick will receive full pay for up to 14 days. Workers who are at a facility that has to close will receive 100% of their pay for up to 12 weeks.
Smucker's company gave workers a $1,500 bonus.
Danone is increasing pay by 15%. If a worker needs to quarantine they are eligible for up to 80 hours of paid leave, and workers who have childcare needs are eligible to use any state or city paid sick leave, where applicable.
National Beef and agreed to increase pay by $2/hour on all hours worked from March 16th to May 10th.
Cargill gave workers at their meatpacking plants a $2/hour pay increase during the Covid-19 crisis.
Rite Aid announced an emergency pay increase of $2/hour and an increase in the employee discount from 20% to 35%.
JBS USA is giving workers a $600 bonus, workers will also qualify for short term disability on day one if they need to quarantine.